Favorite

The Observer Feb. 24 

Does tipping now work in reverse? If you give someone money for good service, do they hold this against you? The Observer inquires because of a recent experience with his newspaper carrier. (Yes, The Observer subscribes to the daily paper, despite its deficiencies. We like its star columnist, Gene Lyons, and we chuckle at “Dilbert” and the wilder letters to the editor. In the summer, we read the reports of Arkansas Traveler games.) First, a little background. Years ago, newspaper carriers were schoolboys who came around to each house on their route and collected for the papers. Customer and carrier knew each other. Tipping was common. It was not resented. Now, the carriers are adults delivering papers as a second source of income. They don’t collect. Instead, the newspaper office sends out bills. Chances are, you never see your carrier. But around Christmas time, the carrier will stick an envelope bearing his name and address inside a newspaper, obviously an invitation to send a gratuity. Under this impersonal system, The Observer had grown rather lax about tipping, frankly. He’s not proud of this. The quality of service didn’t seem to be affected, though, tip or no tip. Late last year, he felt obliged to tip. On Election Day, the National Rifle Association paid to have the papers delivered in a plastic covering with a “Vote Bush” message on it. Some carriers declined the NRA materials, using the standard yellow plastic coverings instead, even though they had to pay for those and the NRA plastic was free. The Observer’s carrier was one such. Did the carrier know that The Observer’s neighborhood is perhaps the most anti-Bush area in Arkansas? Perhaps. We appreciated the gesture regardless. So, when the time came, we sent a tip to the carrier. That’s when our heartaches began. Since tipping, our service has gone to pot, the paper often arriving late and sometimes not at all. We came across for him, and now he doesn’t respect us anymore. (Alternatively, the NRA may have put a contract out on him. It’s hard to deliver newspapers under fire.) The Observer took himself to New York last week and the entertainment included a visit to “Fat Pig,” the off-Broadway drama that stars Little Rock native Ashlie Atkinson as the surprising (because she’s plus-sized) girlfriend of a studly guy. It ends badly. The guy can’t handle the peer pressure from a witch of an ex-girlfriend with thighs the size of pencils and a guy friend who’s a pluperfect butt. Atkinson is great, as all the reviews have said, a warm stage presence. Her trip to her boyfriend’s company beach party in a bathing suit (a “fat suit” that dramatically exaggerates her size) is no fun for a plus-size Observer to watch. Most of us decided to go easy on dinner that night. Playwright Neil LaBute puts the audience right to work on the eating thing. The play opens with Atkinson at a lunch counter, methodically putting away a slice of cheese pizza and other food, the only sound for several minutes her mannerly dining. We had a warm reunion with Atkinson after the play. She was an intern at the Times years ago. She was heading out to dinner with her boyfriend. He always wants to grab pizza. She confesses she’s lost her taste for it. Reader Paul Nations petitioned the Arkansas Times last week for The Observer’s help in identifying a bird in his backyard. The Observer is glad to oblige. Mr. Nation’s note: “This evening I saw a bird in my backyard I’ve never seen in Little Rock before. It was about the size of a cardinal. It had a black neck, head, back and wings with a white wing slash, the sides were reddish brown and the underbelly was white/grey. It was feeding on scattered seed on the ground with my doves and female cardinals.” Had it been spring, Mr. Nations’ bird would have introduced himself and he wouldn’t have had to turn to The Observer. He would have said “towhee.” Then, he would have commanded Mr. Nations, quite clearly, to “Drink your tea.” It’s winter, though, so the Eastern towhee (which used to be called a rufous-sided towhee, but the show-offs in charge of bird names insist on changing them every year just to prove they can) is not quite ready to sing for a mate and warn other towhees off his turf. There’s always a towhee about somewhere in Arkansas, any time of the year. Now that Mr. Nations has seen one, he’ll see more.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • The Arkansas Traveler

    The Observer gets letters from folks, either directly or through the grapevine. Recently, somebody forwarded us one written by a former schoolteacher, writing to her granddaughter, who is a new student at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs.
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • The Grand Old Flag

    The Observer, like nearly everyone else with access to an internet connection, routinely sees our personal lighthouse battered by Hurricane Outrage, which — on a planet where billions of people struggle to find water and a crumb of daily bread — seems more like a tempest in a teapot inside a series of other, progressively larger teapots the longer we weather it.
    • Sep 1, 2016

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Latest in The Observer

  • The Talk

    By the time you read this, Valentine's Day will be receding into the rearview for another 360-plus days, much to our satisfaction. The Observer has nothing against love, having been in it for over 20 years with a wonderful woman we met several professions for both of us ago. But we do have a bone to pick with Valentine's Day, that holiday that seems to be designed to make everybody making an attempt feel both financially poorer and a bit inadequate.
    • Feb 15, 2018
  • Memoir

    The Arkansas Times got a visit this week from some folks teaching a class for LifeQuest of Arkansas, an outfit that puts on continuing education courses for older folks.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • 45

    Arkansas Times Senior Editor Max Brantley, who hired The Observer as a pup a few eons back, recently took to the Arkansas Blog to mark his two score and five years so far in the newspaper business. It tickled many of our own heartstrings about Little Rock, this profession, and what it all means in 2018 A.D.
    • Feb 1, 2018
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • Locked away and forgotten

    In 2017, teenagers committed to rehabilitative treatment at two South Arkansas juvenile lockups did not receive basic hygiene and clothing supplies and lived in wretched conditions.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation