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On Tipping and Adriana Lima


Holler! I’m a graduate student at the University of Chicago, studying philosophy.

I take mad walks.

Especially now that the weather is blingin’ back toward sunshine. Weather.com: “36 degrees, feels like 28”. That’s not bad with the sun out hitting your face.

Right now I’m supposed to be writing an exegesis of Derrida’s Of Grammatology, which splinters apart structuralism and casts us into a fluxing, dynamic reality. But my mind is unfocused because I got little sleep last night and my large coffee is jolting it around. Instead of writing, I'm thinking about the following:

Adriana Lima is uh-fficient. I’m probably more impressed by Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, or Condoleezza Rice. But damn that Lima: she’s a lithe, feminine, eye-dropping presence. It arrests me. Nothing to say. I am arrested. Fills up my panorama.

That said, a quick critique of Victoria’s Secret runway shows: Lose the “wings” on your angels when they’re walking. Those flappy things are just cumbersome.

But I digress. The ethical dilemma circulating today is about tipping ethnic minorities vs. the white majority.

Here at U. Chicago there are two coffee shops I frequent. One’s called Hallowed Grounds and is a sweet study room/café with pool tables, lounging chairs, and a hip demeanor. It’s run mostly by white U. Chicago students looking to make an extra buck while they’re in school.

The other is more of a lunch place with toasty fontina sandwiches and good coffee. It’s run by several latino workers, who speak spanish as their native language.

At both, there is a “tip” jar by the register. I’ve tipped in both places, but I think about it differently.

For the white students, if I get, say, 17 cents in change, I may just drop it into the tip jar. I do this not so often, but sometimes.

I won’t do this for the latinos. For them, I’ll make a more conscious effort to only put in, say, a dollar or 75 cents or 50 cents. I’ll never just drop my change in. But I tip them less often than I do the students at Hollow Grounds.

Thinking about the straight-up economics: over the long-haul I probably tip the same monetary amount to the white students as I do the latinos. But I feel more inclined to make a gesture, maybe a symbolic gesture with the latinos: a tip that also says I’ve thought about this. Whereas with the white students, this is still true, but it’s more of a “Oh I got 17 cents, might as well help ‘em out by dropping it into the tip jar.”

With the latinos, I’m spurred to think more incisively about, “What is the respectful thing to do?” Whereas with the whites I’m spurred to think a bit more pragmatically.

Anyway, I’d imagine that if I asked these two groups what they thought, their reaction might be just, “Haha whatever man, do what you want.”

Anywayz, I’m off to downtown now, to walk around.

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