How To Change The World

Back in the summer of 2003, my friend Oliver Baker made a comment here where he wrote, in part (emphasis mine):

I’d be interested to hear your philosophy of tipping, Peter. Tipping is just paying again for what you already paid for, and letting the corporation snooker you into paying the workers’ salaries, and yet I imagine you are a regular or even generous tipper.

The thing is, until that point I had been an irregular and not particularly generous tipper. That Oliver would imagine I was forced me to immediately change my behaviour, and since that time I’ve probably paid out 50-100% more in restaurant tips.

Earlier in the winter I ran into my friend Ann Thurlow at Timothy’s — it was one of those crazy post-Eurotravel mornings when I was getting up at 7:00 a.m. Ann sat down, we had a pleasant chat, and then when we stood up to leave Ann took her dishes to the back counter rather than leaving them on the table; I asked her why, and she said “oh, I always clean up my dishes at Timothy’s.” So, since that day I have always cleaned up my dishes at Timothy’s too.

On Friday afternoon my friend Cynthia Dunsford and I made a pilgrimage out to the Ellen’s Creek Plaza location of the Formosa Tea House for lunch. On the way out there in Cynthia’s car we had to stop at my house so I could run inside for a second. When I got back to the car I noticed that Cynthia had turned it off; when commented on this, she simply said “I don’t idle.”

So last night, waiting in the driveway to drive our babysitter home, I didn’t idle. It was a little chilly, but I made do.

We think it’s so hard to change the world, but, at least in my case, often a few well-placed words will do.


alexander o'neill's picture
alexander o'neill on March 5, 2006 - 21:45 Permalink

On tipping I’ve found that if you have a close friend or family member who has worked as a waiter or waitress the tipping issue never even comes up, it’s jsut a given that that’s how tehy make their salary. For me, even if I got bad service, I’ll still leave a tip (since they’re often pooled) but will also leave a note registering my complaint. That will get you listened to the most.

And it’s true that little gestures seem to leave big impressions on people especially when it’s not expected, I remember just casually grabbing the other plates that were on the tables at a pizza place as I was taking mine to the garbage, that was enough to spark a conversationwith the nice but overworked girl behind the counter.

steve's picture
steve on March 5, 2006 - 23:10 Permalink

Idling is now illegal in some boroughs of Montreal.

Ann's picture
Ann on March 6, 2006 - 13:42 Permalink

Since you seem receptive to my advice (which I hand out to a nauseating degree, I’m afraid) : I have always been surprised how easy it is to say something kind to another person and at how very well that is received.

And it was great to run into you at Timothy’s or any place else for that matter. Those who read this blog but don’t actually know you are missing the very best part of the ruk experience.

Sandy's picture
Sandy on March 6, 2006 - 16:10 Permalink

As you can probably imagine, I am big on the not idling thing. I read that if it is going to be more than 10 seconds, it makes sense economically, as well as environmentally to turn your car off. I am amazed when I drop Riley off at kindergarten that some parents leave their cars running. It usually takes at least 5 minutes to get back to the car, if not longer.

Cyn's picture
Cyn on March 6, 2006 - 16:52 Permalink

I was at UPEI yesterday to play squash and the Women’s AUAA championships were on. There were two big fat buses in the parking lot idling when I arrived and still idling when I left. (one and half hours later)

G stands for gross.

ghislaine's picture
ghislaine on March 6, 2006 - 21:14 Permalink

Although I love the bus, I HATE that they leave 4 of them idiling at Confederation Centre waiting to pick people up. The drivers are off having a pee and a smoke and the doors of the bus are wide open, letting in the fumes. I have arrived early several times and had to open the window on the bus to let the fumes out. Blech. I take the bus to reduce my contibution of green house gasses, but it seems Trius is bent on making up for it. I wonder if they will turn off the buses in the summer when tourists and downtown workers are eating thier lunch on the plaza of the Centre? I hope so…

Leah Tremain's picture
Leah Tremain on March 8, 2006 - 20:29 Permalink

My husband got me in the habit of turning off the car at drive-thru windows. It keeps the fumes out of the servers face and keeps it from our car when stopped with the window open.

I like the David Suzuki Foundation’s Nature Challenge, “10 simple things you can do to protect nature”…