Friday, August 31, 2007

Tipping: Why I'm Against It*

I’ve never been a tipper. Due to my current circumstances, I rarely have the opportunity these days, but even when I do there’s a voice in my head that prevents me. The social pressure to tip can be intensely hard to resist, especially when you’re out for a night of entertainment with a group of friends. I’ve gotten in arguments over the issue and have even lost the friendship of a college buddy over it. Our friendship simply couldn’t weather my aversion to tipping. Over time I’ve learned to limit my time out with friends and to cut the evening short rather than put myself into a situation where tipping is expected. I’ll make excuses and just slip away to avoid confrontation. I’m a product of my upbringing I suppose. My father had nothing against tipping when he was much younger, and has indicated to me that he certainly did so as a young man, but by the time I was born he had come to believe it was wrong. He taught my sister and me that it was actually harmful, bordering on abuse, and encouraged us not to be herd-followers for the sake of tradition, but to be free thinkers instead.

Dad grew up in a fairly rural area and while they had no cows of their own there were certainly plenty of opportunities for cow-tipping on the neighboring spreads. He’s shared stories of late night escapades in the surrounding pasture lands where he and his buddies allegedly competed to see who could knock over the most cows in a specified time period. They’d get likkered up and take the tractor down the road a piece (plausible deniability I suppose), climb through the barbed wire, stagger out to the nearest concentration of snoozing bovines, and cut loose in an orgy of animal upending.

Sometimes I wonder how accurate his stories are, though. There’s a semi-scholarly analysis of the various moments and forces at play in your typical cow-tipping scenario here. Apparently it’s exceedingly difficult (if not impossible) for a single person to tip a cow. Especially when you’re smashed out of your gourd and fighting to remain vertical.

In any case, as I said, he has come to believe that cow-tipping is abusive and cruel, and has managed to impart that principle (along with many others) to his offspring. So now when my buddies and I get likkered up on a Saturday night and they get a hankerin’ to knock over some poor unsuspecting bovine, I usually suggest we throw rocks at cars instead. Or I make excuses and slip away to avoid confrontation.

*Elevated sensitivity to all things bovine brought to you by Urquhart.