Remember this scene from English-Vinglish where Shashi was embarrassed at the cafe? Its something that has happened to me. Well, a toned down version. The people behind counters are generally sweet and not like the rude lady in the movie. So what really happened to me in the Amerikya? The first time i went to US i was all alone myself and had no one around to tell me how things work there. I had to learn them the hard way.
Hailing a taxi in Manhattan is like a roller coaster ride. Everyone is running busy there. This american-african (ya you are not supposed to call them black) driver of the cab i took zipped through the roads and screeched to a halt. I was not sure if I had reached the destination so was looking around and this guy said something which i didn’t understand.
Me: Sorry, What?
Cabbie: Are you paying by cash or card?
Me: Card. And I handed it over to him.
Cabbie: Swipe it on the machine and enter the tip. Make it fast.
By this time he spotted a lady who was looking for a cab and he wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible.
And I was wondering where the hell was the machine he was talking about. Then I noticed the small screen that was showing ads through the ride had then become a credit card reader interface.
I swiped the card on the screen’s side. It then asked me to enter the tip amount. I had to understand that screen in seconds and not end up making mistakes.
Cabbie: Can you make it fast. I have someone else here…
I think the fare was 8 dollars. So my non numerical head tried doing a quick math of calculating its 10%. However it was too difficult of a calculation for me to get the answer.
Cabbie: Hey maannn
By now I wanted to finish it off soon and so punched 3 and hit enter. Immediately i realized it went in as .03. I was supposed to punch in two zeros also. The cabbie got a shock and gave me a dirty look. I also saw the lady who was waiting for me to get out getting into another cab.
Cabbie: Comeonnnn maaannnn. (*&&%$%^$^$&*****)
I quickly got out saying Sorryyyy avoiding eye contact feeling like a nincompoop.
You are expected to tip for every service you receive in US. When the amount is within 20 dollars you simply add 2-4 dollars and dont do 10% math. In restaurants you tip from 10% to 20%. And Yes like SRK pointed out in the comments if you see something called “Gratitude” in your food bill, its the tip or service charge as we Indians call it they have added to the bill.
To be continued