On Friday night, I went down to Cedar Springs — which I confess I don’t do terribly often, my evenings are often filled with plays, films and restaurants — with several friends I hadn’t seen in months. We decided to go to Mickey’s to start the evening. I left my car with the valet, who stood in front of a podium with a sign that read “complimentary.” We went into Mickey’s and ordered a few rounds.
After an hour or so, we bar-hopped a little: some beers at TMC, then one round of karaoke at the Round-Up Saloon. It was almost closin’ time, so we wandered back to Mickey’s valet. I handed him my keys and a few bucks.
“You owe me $10,” the driver said, having moved my car all of 20 feet. “Oh, it says complimentary,” I said, pointing to the sign. “Only if you spend the ENTIRE NIGHT at Mickey’s,” he said. Since I approached the valet stand from the street, not through the club, he assumed (correctly, I admit) that I had not spent the entire night in the same bar. I can’t myself name a single person who does that on a regular basis — three hours in one club. “Well, it doesn’t say that on the sign…” I said.
“… And NOBODY tips as little as that,” he said, complaining of my tip. “NOBODY is that cheap.” I handed him two or three bucks (and actually gave him another when he complained); if the “real” cost was $10, that was a 20 or 30 percent tip — not outrageously low, in my opinion. (He spent that evening, all tolled, about 45 seconds with my car.)
I gotta say, even if I was a cheap tipper (anyone out there think $2 or $3 is fair?), applying rules such as “complimentary” only applies if you spend the entire evening at the same place, or trying to extort $10 out of me (I wonder if Mickey would have seen that $10 or just the inside of the valet’s pocket) and insulting my tipping isn’t exactly that smartest way to ENCOURAGE people to come to the strip. In fact, it’s a sure way to keep some people — me included — away.