I just found out that my super is suing our building. Do I still have to tip him this holiday season? Signed, East Side Ebenezer
Dear East Side,
The law protects those who sue. For example, it would be illegal for your building to fire him because of the lawsuit. Similarly, you should carry on as you always have. Besides, you don’t know why, exactly, the building is being sued.
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It may be that he has been wronged and therefore has every right to sue. Or maybe the suit is frivolous. At this early stage, you don't know. Either way, your obligation is to treat him as you always have, with courtesy and respect.
Tipping, of course, is always optional. If you never asked for any help, and have never tipped in the past, then maybe you can feel justified in withholding a holiday tip. That’s on your conscience.
But unless you know the entire story, you should tip him as you usually would. I would imagine that before you knew that he was suing that you liked him and asked him to do small jobs for you during the year. The holidays are when the bill for those favors comes due.
That’s how I do it, anyway. Rather than tip my super every time I ask him to come up to my apartment, I tip him handsomely at the holidays. This seems to work for both of us.
Even if he is wrong in pursuing his suit, try not to take it personally; it most likely has nothing to do with you. These matters usually need to be kept confidential while they are going on. However, once the case is settled, the shareholders will probably be told about the case. You will also be advised of how much the building paid out in legal fees and/or a settlement.
Until then, act as you always have and tip him accordingly. After all, chances are he will continue to be your super and will remember when you acted like a Grinch.
Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.
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