Small Change

October 16, 2008

Kristin and I had a great dinner last night at a local seafood restaurant. Hers a plate piled high with various and sundry shrimp (called prawns when they are 4” long) and mine a local fish. Including a bottle of wine and dessert, our meal came to R420 (divide by 10 remember.) That includes the 14% VAT tax. We had been talking with the waitress who has a winsome smile and informed us that we had a funny accent. A very sweet and beautiful young lady. I have not figured out the exact protocol about tipping, but I soon found out that a standard 15% US tip is way beyond the norm here.

Finding this out started out innocently enough. Her colleague came to our table to swipe the credit card. Another new practice for us, but as explained the night before, there had been so much credit card fraud in SA when patrons gave their credit cards to the waitress to take to the back. Now they have a wireless machine that is brought to the table so that the credit card never leaves your sight. Her friend was typing in the final charge and I noticed a smile cross her face as she quickly looked over to catch the eye of her colleague. She asked us where we were from. When Kristin told her from the U.S., she then asked if she could be packed into one of our bags. We told her that being in one of our bags was not the best idea at the time, unless she really wanted to be lost in Dakar somewhere.

As we were leaving, I saw her grab her friend by the shirt, and then our waitress put her hand over her mouth and started laughing/crying. Tip: $6. On this trip, I really don’t care about protocol, if a $6 tip is enough to make someone’s day, then that is the least that we can do.


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