In 1726 in his The Political History of the Devil, Daniel Defoe penned, “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed.”
Benjamin Franklin’s wording, however, in his 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, is the more recognized expression: “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
In truth, there is literally nothing that can be done about the inevitable certainty of death.
Taxes, however, aren’t as solidly set in stone. They just seem to be, which explains why the humorous proverb has endured all these centuries.
Some, however (Wesley Snipes comes to mind), call into question this enduring adage by simply not paying the revenue collectors. These same upstanding citizens usually end up paying, instead, with jail time (again, Wesley Snipes pops into my head), just not in dollars and cents.
Some pay, but inwardly protest (unlike Wesley Snipes). And others pay, but outwardly protest. (Again, excluding Wesley Snipes here as there’s a conflict with the actual paying part.)
These days, some of these outward protests take the form of the extravagant “tea bagging parties” in commemoration of the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773 (which was neither a party nor did it involve Boston tea).
I’m not terribly thrilled about paying taxes, either. But I pay. Nor am I ecstatic about the prospect of a painful demise—though I look forward to a potentially painless one.
Believe it or not, however, these days there’s something just as inevitably certain as death and taxes, but sticks in my craw far more….
I’m genuinely, wholeheartedly appalled—nay, disgusted—at our commonly accepted culture, the unyielding social pressures, and the near full-throttle coercion of the restaurant industry to pay tips.
Here’s a tip for ya: Expect to get paid what your menu lists your prices for—no less, no more.
My grandfather—when he was alive, bless his soul—hated to pay tips. He got ragged on about that a lot. While there are many things I can rag on my late grandfather over, his objection to tip-ation without representation is not one of them. In fact, that is one of the few—if not perhaps the only—issues he and I really agreed on. Seriously. And who can deny that rare bond between a grandfather and his grandson? What demonic beast dares shatter that one, truly good memory a lone grandson clings to over his deceased grandfather?
Let me tell you a true story. I had a co-worker once who worked part-time for our transportation company and part-time elsewhere waiting tables. He told me he was going to go full-time waiting tables since, in his words, he made four times as much from tips than in the business of which he and I shared. He did go full-time at the other job. And I shortly thereafter visited the restaurant. By chance, he served me. And in light of his previous (and somewhat secretive) divulgence of making four times— four times!—what I did, I almost felt like asking him to pay me the tip. But I guess he already did.
Lest I sound like a monster, though, I in fact did—and do—pay the standard gratuity. (It is still 10%, right?) But when I get home afterwards, I invariably vomit and convulse for several excruciating hours. Usually each hour of writhing in agony on the floor is in direct proportion to each dollar of tip I involuntarily left. It’s almost enough to drive me to a tip teabagging party.
But my usage of “teabagging” here is that of the youngsters. Unlike those who use the tea bag as a symbol of that historical event where actual bags (or chests, technically) of minced herbs were dumped into the harbor of Boston all those centuries ago, I, on the other hand, don’t mean this kind of traditional beverage that you drink. Well, you sort of drink it. But it’s more like a hard, hairy, and sometimes sweaty, swallow. (Here’s a mildly censored live demonstration, if you need one.) Yeah, I know. The thought of it sends a piercing chill down my spine, too.
But then again, so does the thought of paying tips. The difference? The teabagging—whether the kind you drink or the kind you swallow—is, by all intents and purposes, not socially coerced.
Like Defoe and Franklin of old, I’ve come to accept the certainty of death and taxes. So I guess it boils down to the slow but inevitable loss of those social liberties that never used to be so certain.