Playing the Tipping Game

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Originally published in the S.F. Examiner on October 2, 2019.

After guiding me through the process of becoming a cab driver over five years ago, Jacob Black offered one last bit of advice before I started my first shift. We were standing outside the Veterans yard and he asked if I had at least $20 in small denominations to make change. I showed him my wad of singles and fives.

“It’s best to wear a shirt with pockets,” he told me. “So you can keep track of your money.”

Fortunately, I have an assortment of western-style button-ups. So when it’s time to hand a passenger change at the end of a ride, I’m not fishing around for my cash.

Little did I know back then, though, that my hand wouldn’t be the only one reaching into my pockets. Because when you deal with lots of cash, someone always wants a piece of the action.

From cab companies to the SFMTA. From dispatchers and gasmen, to hotel doormen and bouncers at strip clubs.

Read the rest here.


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