Tipping and culture

Hi. My name is Misa from Japan. Today, I want to share with you guys something concerning an internship I had a month ago. Before I came to Cains, I was working as an assistant deckhand on tourism cruises in Brisbane.

Our responsibility was to welcome passengers in the morning and take them to Lone Pain Sanctuary, which is the only place in Brisbane where you can hug a koala and take a photo with it. Afterward my job was to pick them up to a pier near CEB. Since the koala sanctuary is a must-visit spot mentioned in guide books, customers are mainly tourists from all over the world.

What I did on a cruise was to explain about tickets, take orders as we had a small bar and a kitchen on board. What’s more, I had to handle cash. It took me some time to get used to doing these tasks, but I also learned about Australia cultural norms at a workplace.

Let me give you an example. One day, a man from the US handed me 2 dollars just after I processed his payment. I initially didn’t figure out what it was for. Since his payment had already gone though, there should be nothing to be given. Shortly after, he said ‘Just keep it! ’

So it was the first time I got a tip! It was just a two dollar coin, but more worthy than its original value as I felt like my efforts finally paid off, besides for someone from Japan, like me, tipping is not common.

Some people think a service charge is already added to a bill so, tipping can make us confused. On the other hand, others think tipping is a way of showing respect and appreciation to someone who treated you in a comfortable way.

It’s a controversial issue, and differs from place to place. I can’t say which side I stand by. However, I believe showing respect and appreciation should be more highly regarded in Japan. All most of the passengers on the cruise expressed their ‘thank you’s by either tipping, saying ‘’thank you ‘or sometimes even winking. I would like to introduce this culture into my country.

My internship not only improved my English, but also got me to think about culture and behaviour rooted in it. If you are about to have an internship or start a job, there must be a lot to learn. Enjoy!

Misa Watanabe, Upper-Intermediate

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