Make sure you’ve got your docking bra on love’, called the Silver Fox, my stewardess pal as she exited the cabin.
It was 1972 and it was my first trip as a sea stewardess on the S.A. Vaal, doing the South African run.
The ‘docking bra’ was a bra with a little extra room in which to accommodate all the tips we would hopefully get from our kind-hearted passengers.
We relied heavily on our tips back then as our wages on board really weren’t that good.
It’s the same for a lot of people in catering and other service industries.
But now in this poor economic climate, should we feel obliged to tip?
Shouldn’t people be paid a decent wage and not have to rely on the customer to tip to make their money up to a respectable amount?
I met hubby number two, the Geordie Gent, when we both worked on another ship in the mid-1970s.
We’d gone for our first meal shoreside and I’d left a £1 tip and then popped to the loo.
GG was waiting outside and, as he held out his hand, in his palm was the £1 tip.
‘The service was rubbish, so why leave a tip?’, he said to justify his action.
I was mortified.
Surely the waitress would think we were cheapskates.
But was he right folks?
Should we automatically feel obliged to leave a tip even if our waiter/waitress isn’t that courteous or efficient?
Why should we feel embarrassed or awkward at not tipping?
But my worst tipping nightmare was in 1990 when GG and myself did a Caribbean cruise.
The restaurant food was diabolical, so we informed our waiter we were going to complain.
He collapsed in tears begging us not to, as he would have a table taken away and not earn enough money to send home to his starving family in the Philippines.
So what do you think happened? Yep, we took pity on the poor man and put up with the food.
On that cruise I remember we were also left envelopes and a list in our cabin of who and how much to tip.
We’re British and we’ll tip only if we want to do so.