Last week I met up with an old family friend. Well, the family friendship is old, but Chris is a mere pup at 24. It was sobering to remember over our sandwich lunch that I have known him most of his life. He’s halfway through the Australian middle-class rite of passage: the post-university northern-hemisphere tour – and landed recently in Connecticut, a mere hour’s train ride away from the bright lights and big smog of Manhattan.
We met on a rainy day in SoHo and swapped stories. He confessed to having recently forgotten to tip a hairdresser, and only realised later why she had been hovering at the till as he collected his change from the cashier, put it in his pocket and walked out the door with a cheerful wave goodbye. At a minimum wage of $5 or so in that particular industry, individual hairdressers rely on tips. Depending on who you talk to, it’s a longstanding convention, or a form of subsidised slavery.
Chris, if you read this please send me your email address, as my attempts to reach you keep bouncing back.