Q: Vacation tips are a mystery to me. I know to tip the employees of my Upper West Side Cooperative, but I never know how much. This year the pandemic makes the question seem complicated. Tell me how much should i give
A: Every year New Yorkers tip their bouncers, supers, and porters for a year to help open doors, clean hallways, collect packages, and do the other ungrateful chores that are required for a building to run smoothly . If ever there was a year where you could open your wallet wide, this is it.
"Much more was asked of these people at the beginning of the year and it is important to acknowledge that," said Philip Lang, co-founder of Triplemint, who helped develop the company's online Tip-O-Meter. "These were the people who had no choice but to come to work every day. They interacted with everyone who entered the building."
But the pandemic has also been financially devastating for so many New Yorkers, many of whom don't have the money they have left. Between February and May, 1.25 million jobs are said to have been lost in New York. In October the unemployment rate was 13.2 percent – a huge jump from 3.6 percent in October 2019.
If you are able to give, consider tipping generously. How much you give will depend on the size of your home, the number of units in the building and the size of the staff. If you live in a building with 200 apartments and a large staff, each employee should get a smaller share of your total gift. If you live in a small building, the total staff will receive fewer envelopes, but you will likely have fewer staff to consider. So give an appropriate tip.
Think about how often you use the building's services and which employees have done everything for you – but don't overlook the doorman on the cemetery shift just because you rarely crossed paths. (Tenants tend to tip smaller than owners. This year, employees who work in rental properties may receive fewer tips for vacancies.)
If you left town during the pandemic, as many New Yorkers did, your absence shouldn't result in a minor gift. During your absence, the staff were still clearing the hallways, collecting packages and showing up for work while the city was closed. "What you need to realize is that you still own your apartment, the staff are still working there and working extremely hard in a very stressful situation," said Dan Wurtzel, president of FirstService Residential New York.
If your household has lost income this year, give what you can. You are never required to tip and the staff shouldn't withhold services that you cannot. If you're short on cash to spare, consider a thoughtful personal note, baked gift, or something else to show your gratitude during this troubled year.
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