Saturday 9 October 2010

How to Tip a Railway Porter

The railway porters, who attend to the business of transferring the passengers thus from the railway carriages to those of the street, are very numerous all along the platform; and they are very civil and attentive to the passengers, especially to those who come in the first-class cars — and more especially still, according to my observation and experience, if the traveller has an agreeable looking lady under his charge. The porters are dressed in a sort of uniform, by which they are readily distinguished from the crowd. They are strictly forbidden to receive any fee or gratuity from the passengers. This prohibition, however, does not prevent their taking very thankfully the shillings or sixpences that are often offered them, particularly by Americans, who, being strangers in the country, and not understanding the customs very well, think that they require a little more attention than others, and so are willing to pay a little extra fee. It is, however, contrary to the rules of the station for the porters to receive any thing; and, if they take it at all, they try to do it as secretly as possible. I once knew a traveller who offered a porter a shilling openly on the platform ; but the porter, observing a policeman near, turned round with his side to the gentleman, and, holding his hand open behind him, with the back of it against his hip and his fingers moving up and down briskly in a beckoning manner, said, — " We are not allowed to take it, sir — we are not allowed to take it."

Jacob Abbot, Rollo in London, 1864

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