To Tip Or Not To Tip

A lovely friend from school used to call me ‘Luscious Locks Liz’ because of my curly mane. To be honest, I didn’t mind the nickname. My curly hair was my pride and joy. I used to put considerable time and effort into maintaining it’s luscious-ness.

Since then, my hair care efforts have fallen off considerably. After graduating school and starting a 9-5, I said goodbye to my curls and hello to my straightening iron in an effort to decrease the time it took to get ready each morning. Despite popular opinion, most of us girls with curls don’t just wash our hair and go. It takes the right combination of tools and products, along with a great deal of time and patience to cultivate each curl. I’ve never been able to maintain my curls after sleeping on them either, so I would go through this routine every single morning. With straight hair, however, I could wash and dry it in the evening and then just quickly go over it with a brush in the morning. Best of all, it doesn’t even need to be washed every day!

This added heat can be damaging to hair though, so it’s important to use heat protectant products and regularly deep condition when you straighten your hair. Despite this knowledge, these protective products where among the first I dropped from my beauty regime when I needed to cut back on spending. As a result, my hair became a dull, flat mess and I’ve been spending the past five months trying to restore some of its former lustre.

After finally seeing some improvement I decided it was time to book a haircut to add some shape and volume back into my tresses. This led to an appointment with Julieanna at Hair Etiquette last week. I hadn’t been to this salon before, but the reviews online were pretty good. Julieanna ended up being incredible. She took the time to sit down with me to discuss my daily style routine and what I wanted my hair to look like, giving me a couple of options based on the shape of my face and the current trends. She talked me through the cut and included me in the process every step of the way. To top it off, my chair gave me a massage while my hair was being washed! It was one of the best salon experiences I’ve had in years.

Since I’ve lived in Melbourne, I’ve always been under the impression that tipping isn’t necessary here. I’d previously been to several salons for various services and left tip-free and guilt-free. It’s a nice silver lining to the generally higher prices I find down under. However, when it was time to pay for my cut at Hair Etiquette, I paused for a minute. Should I leave a tip? Julieanna had done such a great job. Plus, the price was very reasonable. However, in the time it took her to make my change and hand it back to me I still hadn’t decided what to do, so I opted not to leave one. It’s not expected here anyway, I had figured.

Flash forward to the next night when my significant other and I were at Mamasita, a popular Mexican restaurant, because it was May 5th and sometimes I like to be basic and drink margaritas on Cinco de Mayo. Our server had been helpful explaining the menu and offering advice on drinks. Nothing out of the ordinary, I had though, but good service nonetheless. When the bill came, my significant other asked if I thought we should leave a tip. WHAT?! In the six months we’ve lived here he has never asked this question before.

After some prodding, he explained that tipping isn’t expected but if you think someone did a good job, it’s optional to leave one. But what does that even mean? If I had the option, I think I would always hold onto my money instead of leaving more. (Although, that might just be the unemployed person in me talking). I suppose this contrasts North America, where tipping a minimum of 15 percent is essentially expected. You’re cheap if you leave less and a jerk if you don’t tip at all. But what is the difference between a person just doing their job and doing a good job? I would think the girl at the restaurant had just been doing her job — we asked questions and she answered them.

Looking back, I do think Julieanna deserved a tip though. She went above and beyond just cutting my hair and made sure she I had a great experience. Did I mention she runs the salon by herself, despite having a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old at home? Also, her dad just passed away in March. I’m a horrible person.

My significant other assured me that returning to the salon for another haircut is as good as leaving a tip. I’ve debated going back to leave one retroactively, but thought it might come off as strange. Instead, next time I need a cut I’ll make sure to leave a token of my appreciation.

It seems tipping in Australia isn’t as clear cut as I thought.