Should stupid people tip those who help them?

I felt like this guy must have when he found this picture of himself on the internet

Happy New Year!

I’m back posting on Sunday evenings after having a few weeks away from blogging. (Its tougher than you think writing 300-500 words a week.) In fact, I have just walked through my front door a few hours ago.

But I was only able to do so with the help of a Locksmith. Nice guy, although I can’t remember his name. I’ll ruin the ending by asking now whether we should be tipping our Emergency Locksmiths, who really do perform a valuable service.

But the bulk of this post will be focussed on how it is I ended up needing a Locksmith in the first place, after which I intend to renew my membership with the Society for Australian Stupid People of Australia.


This afternoon I arrived home after a few weeks interstate. All in all, it was a good break. Caught up with friends, watched pay-TV at someone else’s house and collected my annual $300 in cash from Santa (read, my parents. Bless ’em.) But still, like many of us returning home from a holiday, I was tired.  I was also somewhat miffed that my key was unable to unlock the dead-bolt lock.

The key itself must have been fine as it worked on the other lock on the front door. But this dead-bolt was always tricky and it appeared to have finally given up.


Text messages confirmed the house-mates weren’t coming home for days, so my only chance was an Emergency Locksmith.

Clive (let’s just call him that) was great. He was pleasant over the phone and arrived within 15 minutes of me calling. Upon arrival he introduced himself and set about trying to solve the problem.

At first he said it looked like some kids had jammed something into the lock. Apparently that happens a lot during the new year period. (It was probably unfair of him to blame rowdy teenagers, as he could never really know the ages of the perpetrators. However, its hard to see senior citizens jamming up front door locks for fun.)

But the solution (which seemed to involve some sort of flushing out of the lock) didn’t work. Clive started to realise his initial diagnosis was the wrong one.

Clive then started to look at the key, then the lock, then the key again. Clive was musing and a moment later he asked, ‘Are you sure this is the right key?’

Of course it was the right key. It worked on the other lock. I only have a few keys and if this isn’t the key to the house then I don’t even know why I have it. ‘Oh, that’s the key to my office’, I realised, followed by an incredible sinking feeling similar to when you ask a woman if she’s pregnant when she isn’t.

When I put the other key in the lock only to have it open more smoothly than it had ever opened before, my first words were, ‘Well, how much do I owe you then?’

Clive would have been justified if he were rolling around on the ground with laughter at that point, but he said it happens all the time. (I expect he was just trying to make me feel better. It didn’t work, but I appreciated his efforts all the same.)

The call-out fee was $154. I know this sounds too perfect but I had exactly $154 in cash left over from Santa. But because I was paying cash it was only $140. Score!!!


I suppose, in a sense, Clive didn’t have to do much. But that was my fault, not his. His Sunday was spent fixing people’s locks when they’re stuck outside their homes, or occasionally telling some muppet to try another key. Either way, his Sunday was sacrificed to help others.

On the other hand, he did take home $140 for less than 30 minutes work.

I didn’t tip him. To be honest it just didn’t occur to me to think about whether I should have. I don’t know what I would have done if I did think about it.

Does Clive deserve a tip for his efforts?

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6 Responses to Should stupid people tip those who help them?

  1. Sarah says:

    Ha! Love it.

    $140 for 30 minutes work and no expectation of a tip; I think you did the right thing.

  2. TeX says:

    All depends on where he was in his ovulatory cycle.

    • tippingoz says:

      I guess that means you have read at least two of these posts.

      While different stages of the ovulatory cycle has been shown to influence the level at which people ‘do’ tip, it doesn’t help us understand whether someone ‘should’ tip in a given circumstance. (Although in this particular case, consideration of ovulatory effects seems largely irrelevant. Unless, of course, Cilve is a woman, which is unlikely.)

  3. Kim says:

    Should stupid people tip those who help them?

    The answer is most certainly yes. Remember though you are in Australia and we don’t force smart or dumb people to tip. It is optional. In Australia it is even optional for dumb people to do PhDs! Zap!

    The real problem dumb people will face is calculating the percentage amount they should tip. I mean they should be fine calculating 10% but perhaps a 15% might throw them a little. And an 18%, which is what restaurants in New York seem to prefer can even get tricky for a mathematician, a different kind of mathematician and a statistician. The restaurants generally calculate the suggested tip and print it on your bill to help out. Sometimes they just include it in the overall price though….

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