Gringo in Guadalajara

 An Unexpected Tip

In every society, tipping seems to be an imprecise science.  Who to tip?  How much to tip?  Is the tip a standard fee?  Does the tipper evaluate the tipee and tip accordingly?  Mexico has its own rules and a lot more people to tip.

Probably the most unexpected tipping situation here for Americans is in the grocery store.  The baggers tend to fall into one of two categories: a) extremely young or b) extremely old.  In both cases, you are generally supposed to tip.  Most grocery stores hire an incredibly large cadre of baggers.  They wear uniforms and are generally between the ages of about 11-16.  The surplus of workers is extensive.  In a large store like Walmart or Bodega Aurrera, there are usually ten to fifteen baggers working the checkout aisles while an equal number sit in a corner of the store jostling on one or two long benches as they await their shift.  Usually, they gossip, giggle and mess around while waiting to take over.

After a bagger has performed his or her task, a shopper usually will use some of the change they receive for their grocery payment to provide a tip. Most baggers wear aprons with store logos and they put their tips in their apron pouch.  All this requires the shopper to think ahead.  For Americans who usually pay for groceries with credit or debit cards, having spare change on-hand is a necessity if one does not want to stiff their bagger.  In fact, it is generally advisable in Mexican society, with its large collection of daily hand-outs, donations and tips, to keep a neatly ordered packet of coins on hand at all times.  So put away the plastic.