As you know, I moved permanently, I hope, into my own co-op apartment in Washington Heights last February. So this is my first holiday season in the ‘new’ building. Although I received the “usual suspects” list of staff wishing me a Happy Holiday Season, I wasn’t sure as an owner now what to tip in this smaller residence which is also a lot less fancy than the luxury apartment house where I rented my first three years in New York.

At The Ashley, I settled on $100 per employee–concierges, doormen, super, etc. When I personally handed each staff member an envelope at that address, I noticed what must have been an instructed protocol. Each gentleman looked me in the eye, removed his white glove, and took my hand and shook it. It felt professional and warm.

I asked around uptown to see what’s standard for tipping at the holidays. The best advice I got was, “Ask someone in your building.” That afternoon I was doing my laundry in the laundry room and saw a contemporary there with her daughter–an approachable, friendly grouping.

“What’s the going rate for tipping?” I inquired.

“Oh, I don’t actually live here. My friend let me in to use the laundry room here, but in this size building, it’s around $50 per guy.”

That was as much research as I was willing to do (except going on to google with the same question and having her response validated). I went to Wells Fargo, got my crispy 20’s, 50’s and 100’s and put different amounts into each envelope. Definitely more for my super and his main assistant who have helped me enormously since I moved in.

When I handed Abel, the super’s right-hand man, his envelope, I fully expected the semi-formal handshake. Instead, this lovely man who has been in my apartment many times helping with plumbing, furniture removal and sink drainage, leaned towards me and kissed my cheek.

At 20-something I might have felt weird about it, but at 60-something, it felt touching and sweet.


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