Well, you've all had to take those depos in downtown LA where the high rises are taller and the price of parking is even higher. You know the area I'm talking about, around Grand, Hope and 5th and above. $38.80. I always pray that I get a nice law firm that will validate.

Also, some of those buildings have mandatory valet. So do you tip the valet? My gut instinct is to say not in these tough times, especially if we don't have the choice of valet or self-parking. I mean, if the attorney doesn't validate you, that means you're going to be paying 40 bucks for parking and the agency isn't going to be reimbursing the tip money.

I always used to think that tipping was for excellent service. Basically I'm paying them to park my car. I certainly don't let them touch my writer or laptop case. So I'm lugging all that stuff in and out myself.

So it depends on the mood I'm in. If I get validated and I've got a couple of bucks in my wallet, and the valet is nice, I'll tip. But otherwise no way.

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I know exactly the area you're speaking of, Kyung. That area of downtown is a bit more expensive than the rest, although I'm not sure why. Maybe because it was developed later in years and they have different parking contracts (?) I left in '05, and parking fees were around $33 a day for the Grand/Hope St. garages, so it sounds like it's gone up in the past 3 years.

When I lived in LA, my first apartment was on the West Side, on Beverly Glen Blvd. I remember being shocked that I had to valet just about everywhere, even at my gym AND at my local Ralph's grocery store. Sometimes I'd want to run out and get a frozen yogurt or something, and even those little strip mall centers would have a parking person awaiting your handing over of your keys! I took the attitude of "When in Rome . . ." and I just paid, paid, paid. After a while, I started figuring out other ways around all the parking, but in many cases there's no way around it, especially when it pertains to downtown law firms. It's more expensive to live and work there, that's why the rates are higher too!

My general rule of thumb was if it was mandatory, such as in the area you're speaking of, and I was going to a depo, I did not tip. When I intentionally wanted to be lazy and use valet so I didn't have to find my car at the end of the day or schlep my equipment around, I'd tip them. One example is at Century Towers in Century City. I hate that garage -- it's like a city underneath the earth's surface down there. You know, the one where you take 10 escalators to reach the main elevator? So when I'd have a depo there, I'd intentionally drive straight up to valet and have them park my car. In situations like that, I'd tip them.

As far as receiving parking validations, I found very few in the 6 years I worked there who offered validation. In fact, reporters were strongly urged to NOT ask for validation because the firms would get upset and then report it to the agency. So if they offered, I accepted. If they didn't offer, I never requested.

I also had the every-Sunday-night-practice of going to the ATM and getting out at least $100 cash for parking for that week. This was before they had all the automated machines, and most garages wouldn't take credit/debit cards. I know in San Diego there are still a few agencies/firms who don't reimburse for parking (which still boggles my mind to this day), but it was RARE, if ever at all, that I was told I'd not be reimbursed for parking from a Los Angeles agency -- it was just unheard of, at least among the agencies I worked for. Hopefully you're getting a full reimbursement, not this cheesy "We'll pay up to $10, then you pay the rest" nonsense we deal with down here. Overall, it is a tax write off, but trying to manage the "split" in your commission checks is, to say the least, a huge PITA!

Also, do keep a log of your tips -- those are tax deductible!
I didn't know they weer tax deductible. Cool beans!! Too bad we can't get a receipt for the tips as well.
If I use a valet, even if it's the only way to park in a building, I do tip between $1.00 to $2.00. I waitressed part of my years of college and then court reporting school. If the economy isn't doing well, believe me these people feel it. Some valets are very perfunctory, and I am tended not to tip, but then I usually do. When I first started out, I never tipped. I think it must be a tedious job and to be inhaling all the exhaust. Sure, they chose the job, but. . . .


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