The Strange Secret Rules of Tipping

There is something of an economic mystery to how and why we tip. Yet social pressure to do so keeps spreading.

Not every tipping situation is this clear.

Photographer: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Image

The Christmas season officially ended in my neighborhood last week. The formal signal arrived in the form of trash cans strewn across the driveway when I arrived home from work. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, the sanitation workers take care to stand the cans straight and tightly lidded. For the two or three collection days afterward, they do the same. Then the clutter resumes.

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