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Now that the holiday season is over and I’m once again trying to re-establish some sort of routine, I take a minute to ask the eternal question: Who gets a holiday tip and who doesn’t?

Part of the enigma can be solved with a little common sense.

My hairdresser, of course, gets her gratuity without fail, owing to my strong recollection of an unfortunate experience one year (different hairdresser,many years ago) when my January appointment after a no-tip December turned into “Let’s see what color we get if we mix Champagne Blonde with Henna Bronze.” Not a pretty sight, I assure you.

My Mail Carrier–who might in the olden days have been called a postman, which wouldn’t have suited her at all–gets the welcome envelope. Because I am one of those people who hates to try on clothes at the store, I buy a lot of things on the internet, carefully checking out sale prices so that I can also afford to pay Shipping and Handling charges to have the items Shipped and Handled to me. My Mail Carrier assures me that it pleases her to bring these parcels every week or so. It helps to pay her mortgage, she says. Unfortunately, the sizing of clothing on the internet has changed just as much as the sizing of clothing at the department stores, and the Size 10 that I used to wear seldom fits me these days. You can understand that this is unacceptable, and is cause to employ the Return Postage label that comes in the package.My Mail Carrier picks up the over-taped return with the same smiling enthusiasm she showed when she delivered it to me in the first place. Now, that is worth a nice Christmas bonus!

After these few old standby recipients, though, we come to somewhat of a gray area. For instance, we had the same trash collector for years. He was a small man, but fast and efficient in his duties. We always figured that he deserved more, surely, than what the City paid him, and we always did our part during the December handouts. But now, three separate trucks come to our curb every week. We have yet to establish much rapport with the drivers of the Recycling truck or the Other Trash truck, because they never step out of their vehicles. Long metal arms snake out and grab our significantly colored cans and invert them over the trucks before returning them to their places. The third truck is for greenwaste, lawn clippings and the like. That driver is a small man, fast and efficient in his duties, but not our old friend. (I think he retired on some sort of special early-out when the new trucks came in.) The new fellow jumps out of his cab and waves to us as he lifts the cans. He gets an envelope. As for the other two drivers (who may be robots, for all I know), that is still under consideration.

There are no longer freckle-faced kids on bikes delivering newspapers. The only thing we know about the person who drops our newspaper is that it’s a female who resides about five miles from us. We cleverly deduced this from her computer-generated Christmas greeting, which was stapled to a self-addressed envelope for our convenience.

I think, overall, it would be less trouble and much less expense to take a cruise every year at this time. A long one. But wait! Do you have to tip the cruise director?

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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