We can’t live on tips

How much might a person earn as a door holder opener? I can answer that in a heartbeat: exactly 25 cents.

Let me explain:

One day, as I was leaving a downtown restaurant I saw a man. a stranger, racing to hold the door open for a family of four. I heard the man in the group utter something like, “I’d like to tip you for that, but I don’t have any change.” I have no doubt a tip for such a simple act was far from anything the door opener was hoping for.

Then, as the patriarch of the old Katzenjammer Kids comic strip would say, “Gifs idea.” I thought I’d try it too.

But let me proceed with my myriad accounts: I certainly am not hard up; I don’t need the money; I realize more people carry plastic than loose change; I ask for a tip only to test others’ reactions; I’ve received only 25 cents in my life, and that was almost forced on me by a woman, a stranger, who insisted, explaining, “You have a right to earn a living.” And finally, I suspect she had wanted the quarter in her hand expecting her genial door opener to ask for compensation.

Additionally, I realize there are needier people, those who would benefit from a handful of quarters which might add up to the price of a meal or a snack. I certainly don’t want to compete with them. But the lady insisted, and I became richer for that.

A few years ago, as I mentioned in a previous column, my family went to Souper Salad in Santa Fe, and as we arrived, I hurried to hold the door open for a couple about my age.

I included the requisite “25 cents, please” phrase and got a surprising response: “Why don’t you get a job? I work for my money.”

He had a point. Here’s a person who did OK as a wage earner, still employed in his old age, masquerading as a mendicant. But regardless of what I was thinking at the time, I needed to explain to the angry stranger that my request had been in jest, a conversation starter with a stranger who I discovered wanted no chit-chat.

I didn’t argue, but he persisted in asking why a person with a fairly new car, suitable clothes and a presentable wife would be bugging people at a restaurant. To punctuate his loathing of my request, he made it a point to seat himself and his family far away from us.

But that gesture never cured me. I remembered the many times I’d used the same plea and ploy in Las Vegas and even got pleasant reactions from the would-be donors.

The experience taught me several things: I like to remain outside of a restaurant when I begin my plaintive plea, For that reason, restaurant doors that open in don’t work, as I choose not to enter the establishment at that moment.

The most common reaction is a smile or a chuckle, or a quick “put it on my tab.” Next is simply being ignored. And then there’s the fake fumbling for an imaginary coin, with the admission that he or she can’t find one.

One person had a quarter in her hand, ready to transfer it into mine. I was busted; she took seriously something I was teasing about. But she persisted, which made me think she was on to me and maybe had seen my panhandling antics before. So I accepted the quarter after explaining I was only kidding.

• • •

I refuse to do it. Checking numerous versions of the obscenity-laced comment of our president, referring to Haiti and some African countries as less-than-desireable nations of origin for American immigrants, I hit a verbal roadblock.

You see, I have read numerous accounts of the choice words of The Donald and am struggling with whether to spell out his exact words or to use some kind of euphemism. After all, if I try to sanitize the dialect of that politician by using “excrement” for the s-word, am I not simply couching language in a way that makes it seem more eloquent?

As noted, in the past several days, the unedited word Trump used had appeared both on the air and in print. Some sources, such as our paper, merely hint at the word Trump used. I think Trump’s choice of words was tacky, tacky, tacky. Moreover, such usage displays to the world some of Trump’s basic feelings toward people of different countries, origins, races and backgrounds.

I’m of two minds: I’d like to express what I really feel about our coarse-speaking president and I also feel compelled to “keep it clean.”

Here goes:

I believe it’s @#!**& for the president to have used swear words in his &%#@ dealings with Haiti and some African countries. It *@%&# me when an out-of-control person uses !%*$~#%^& in describing another country. All he did was show his ?#@*&@% ignorance.
Whew! I’m so-oo glad I got that off my chest and was able to express myself clearly.

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