Four fine Island whines: Not Chardonnay or Montrachet

  1. Tipping

Lord knows I believe in tipping. I may be poor, but I’m not cheap. In fact, I usually overtip to make up for the parsimonious ways of my fellow senior citizens who live on a fixed income. Until capitalism pays each according to their need, I believe that those who do a little extra deserve a little extra. Of course, their salary should be enough so that they don’t need “a little extra,” but until that day, if a person goes out of their way to please me, I should be able to decide whether or not they should be rewarded for it. On the other hand, if I walk into a store, go to the fridge, take out a salad and a soda, and walk to the counter to pay by credit card, do I really have to tip? Somehow, the system has been rigged so that I, and the people in line behind me, think that if I don’t tip, I am a cheapskate.

A few days ago, I did just that. I walked into a store, got what I needed, and when I went to pay for it by credit card, a screen was presented to me with different choices of how much to tip. I ignored it, skipped to “continue” so that I could pay, but the machine wouldn’t let me go any farther. The person behind the counter said, “You can’t go forward unless you address the tip section.” They backed the screen up and said in a very loud voice, “How much do you want to tip?”

What am I tipping for? They didn’t even put my stuff in a bag.

Am I tipping for self-service? My physical therapist gives me more pleasure than any self-serving I can do, and his computer doesn’t ask me if I want to tip or not.

“Ummm. Umm.”

“If you refuse to tip, check this box here.”

 “I’m not refusing, but, but …”

I quietly checked the no tip box, my total came up, I paid it and walked past the line of people behind me giving me the evil, snake-eyed glare. I have seldom felt more guilty. Once outside, somebody came up to me and said, “You know they depend on tips to make a living. Many of them are college kids, and they really need a little beer money.”

“Oh yeah? Well, many of us are sweet little old ladies who graduated from college, worked hard all our lives, and really need a little Geritol money.”

I know, I shouldn’t have said that. I should have explained. But the idea that I could not easily decide whether or not to tip, and that I could be thought of as not caring, callous, or cold-hearted, made me defensive.


  1. Indigenous Peoples’ Day/Columbus Day 

Lord knows I believe that indigenous people should be celebrated. Five years ago, I wrote a piece about that.

But does it have to be shared with an alleged pederast? Yes, Christopher was thought to be a well-known child molester. The following quote is from Columbus’s own log: “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general, and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from 9 to 10 are now in demand.”

God forbid indigenous people — those who were kind enough to host the lost and greedy beyond the dreams of avarice — should have their own designated day of celebration. The following quote is also from Columbus’s log:

“They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features …They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. Their spears are made of cane. They would make fine servants…With 50 men we could subjugate them all, and make them do whatever we want.”

Isn’t it about time we stopped celebrating this man who raped, robbed, pillaged, and destroyed those who were kind to him?

Economically speaking, I can see that giving the working man another free paid day off may not be fiscally sound. But did we have to piggyback it with Columbus Day?


  1. Ecology 

Lord knows I believe in ecology. That’s me you see picking up plastic bottles at the Inkwell in the morning.

But really, do I have to pay 10¢ for a paper bag just because I left my shopping bag at home?

Does charging for a paper bag lessen the effect of the waste of trees? Does it mean that rich people can waste as much as they want, because 10¢ means so little to them? Who gets the 10¢?

Can’t someone develop a biodegradable bag that, when dissolved, is good for the ecosystem?

When I lived in Paris (Oh, I was a mannequin at the Folies Bergère, had to mention that so that you know how hip I am), I had a crochet net bag that when scrunched up could fit in my purse or my pocket. I could pick up a couple of things on my way home and put them in that bag, which would spread out according to my needs. It was very substantial.

The paper bags you buy at the supermarket are not substantial at all. If you buy anything that is cold, like juice or milk, the condensation on the outside gets the bottom wet, and the whole bottom falls through before you get to your doorstep.

AND, while we are still in the supermarket, why is it that I cannot buy one doughnut? It’s either six or none. You can buy one muffin, one bagel, but with doughnuts, it’s either a half-dozen or the highway.


  1. Big-box stores 

Lord knows I believe in mom-and-pop stores. I believe in shopping locally, and get great pleasure from seeing how many times the dollar can circulate without ever leaving the Island. Last time I asked, it was 41 times.

But I have to ask, what’s the difference between seeing the dollar go off-Island to a big conglomerate, which whisks the funds offshore, and seeing the dollar leave the Island for warmer climes elsewhere?

The streets of Sarasota, Naples, and Fort Myers, Fla., are paved with dollars from Circuit Ave., Main Street, and the Tisbury fair.

It could be that we are afraid that, like Tulsa, Okla., if we become too self-sufficient, we will be massacred. The likes of Walmart, Costco, or Home Depot squashing us like a bug looms large in many minds. If that is true, you can say goodbye to Phillips Hardware, Reliable Market, Cronig’s, and Net Result.

Lord knows I’m not a whiner. I am a thinker, and so are you. What do you think?


  1. Thank you, Abigail McGrath, for giving us a good laugh just when we need it! Love your take on fine whines!

  2. Tipping is nonsense. The menu price should include the cost of food, it’s perpetration, delivery to your table, washing your dishes, wiping your table, sweeping your floors and a reasonable profit.

  3. Abigail– great writing, The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM)
    knows I appreciate a well written article on this
    The FSM knows I am for tipping when it’s appropriate.
    As the saying goes, “Tipping is not a city in China”
    I pay cash for most things,so I have have never
    been confronted with that screen.
    Thanks for the “tip” about hitting the
    “no tip” option, so if I do encounter it
    I won’t hold up the line.
    i usually tip 25 % for good service and 15 %
    for bad service in a restaurant.
    It would be good if they got paid a living wage,
    ‘but as for now, they don’t.
    Indigenous peoples day.
    Not I didn’t even mention the “C” name.
    The FSM knows I agree with you 99%
    What’s wrong with another holiday ?
    The FSM knows I am all about that.
    I think the bottle deposit should be $1,
    and on everything.
    Big box stores.
    The FSM knows you gotta love em and
    you gotta hate em.
    This is good NIMBYism.
    But I think circuit ave and main st. are paved
    with the dollars from all those places you mention.
    Curious about the dollar circulating 41 times.

    And I’ll throw in another whine.
    The FSM knows that Vineyarders in general
    suffer from neophobia.
    That’s actually a whole case of not so good whines.
    The roundabout
    solar panels on the landfills
    any affordable housing
    and change in “historic” places
    the bowling alley
    and 6 other “pick your own’s.
    Peace,Love and Pasta !

  4. I’m a devoted fan and collector of your writing, Abigail! Thanks for telling it like it needs to be said.

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