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andyvaughn

DZ etiquette?

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I have some questions about DZ etiquette that I’m hoping you old timers can help me out with. First, at what point am I supposed to buy the beer? I did after my first AFP jump, (I’m only on AFP 3) but not my second afp jump. I hung out for a very short bit after my first jump. I have a lengthy drive back home, and I don’t drink (sober a number of years, I don’t get tempted by the company of others drinking, but just was so wiped from the day). Was it rude to not stay?
Second question is on tipping etiquette. I was shocked to read the average pay for instructors in another thread, I had no idea the person training me, whose got my life in his hands, makes so little. Like every other student, I’m hemorrhaging money into the drop zone, and sacrificing on every financial level in my life to keep jumping. I just assumed that he was making a reasonable living doing this based on what I’m dishing out. Should I tip on every training jump, at the end, ever? And if so, what is the standard of tipping..ie 20%?
This probably sounds naïve, but I’m very new to this and just trying to figure out the pecking order of things…I want to believe I’m making lifelong friends around my drop zone, and no sense bungling it all up by acting like a jerk when I don’t know how I’m supposed to act.

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Every DZ is a bit different. Our DZ one case of beer after (graduating to solo status and first solo). One case at A license with of course a nice stamp on the forhead.

If the older jumpers are making you buy beer for everything you do, tell them to go pound salt.

search the threads about beer rules, I am sure you will find numerous conversations about this.
As for tipping search again, it had been beaten to death.

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Unfortunately the only people who determine the pay rate of instructors are the DZO's. I'm not saying drop zone owners are cheap, but that's just the card that's been dealt to them. If I were rich I would personally give a thousand dollar tip to each of my instructors, but I'm like you...just trying to keep afloat and jump to be current. Its just my opinion, but the instructors you jump with...I think just mentioning giving them a tip would possibly make their day because you gave it some extra thought. But what am I saying..I went out the the DZ this past friday and got current again and I needed a refesher course. I study my all the time about skydiving and when I took my refresher it took little time because i remembered virtually everything and he didn't charge me for a refresher. So when I paid I told him I'd give him 20.00 for his jump since it was a coach jump, but I gave him 40.00 since he didn't charge me for a refresher course. But once again..just my opinion, but I think some of the instructors gain happiness just seeing students get better...but I could be wrong.

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I'll just say I gave my AFF instructor $10 after each jump. I also gave $5 to a coach when I felt they did well. Compared to the amount I was already spending, it wasn't a big deal to me. But really helped forge some lasting friendships. Hell, I even gave the pilot a buck or two for each load I was on for a long time.

I don't make a lot of money (E-4 in the military at that time) It's just something I've always done. I was never pressured or expected to tip. (I also brought a case for the beer fridge every weekend from the base liquor store, and in Utah that was highly appreciated ;) )
"Damn you Gravity, you win again"

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I want to believe I’m making lifelong friends around my drop zone,...when I don’t know how I’m supposed to act.

if you have to act / pay , I wonder what kind of friends they would be. Be yourself. Pay what you are supposed to pay. When you feel it is appropriate, bring some beer/food/whatever to share and party.
scissors beat paper, paper beat rock, rock beat wingsuit - KarlM

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Buying beer is largely cermonial for a non-drinker. Your fisrt jump is a good one, maybe your graduation jump, and beyond that any significant 'firsts'. The on going joke about buying beer everytime you say the word 'first' is mostly a joke, but if you are a drinker then it's just good practice to buy beer for the DZ. I'm sure you've caught on that there is a lot of 'community' beer at the DZ, so those that partake need to kick in a case or two every now and again.

Hanging out at the DZ is optional. Nobody will give you a hard time for having a long drive and needing to hit the road. You'll be welcome to hang anytime you have the time.

Tipping is another story. As a full on 'student' who intends to complete the program and get a license, you probably don't need to worry about tipping for every jump. You can keep track of the instructors who work with you, and maybe when you complete the program, tip or gift each of them accordingly.

There's a long standing debate about how much or what to tip, but my vote has always been cash, and how much depends on what you can afford. If a college kid tips me $10, I appriciate that as much as a doctor who tips me $50. Some people say just buy the guy a beer, or dinner, but in the end cash can be spent for either of those, or whatever the instructor may need (or want).

In terms of pay, every professional skydiver knows what they're getting into. None of them are there because it's the only job they could find, they chose that line of work. The vast majority are not full time jumpers, and have a 'day job' of some sort to pay the bills.

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Beer rules vary from one DZ to the next.

The original reason was to encourage older skydivers to stick around in the evenings to tell "no shit, there I was, thought I was gonna die ..." stories that allow you to learn from their mistakes ... without the scar tissue.

Surviving the drive home is far more important than socializing with a bunch of lushes.

Similarly, wasting money on tips is less important than graduating. Focus your money accordingly. Just remember which instructors were most helpful and reutrn the favour after you graduate.
You might also consider trading skills instead of dollars. Your nursing skills may prove invaluable ...
Full-time instructors (who usually lack medical insurance) will value your medical advice far more than dollars.

For example, the best tip I ever got was from an MD/fun jumper who helped me straighten my neck after a dirt-dive gone wrong. Her massaging my neck and reassuring me that I had not broken anything was worth more than any dollars!

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I hung out for a very short bit after my first jump. I have a lengthy drive back home, and I don’t drink (sober a number of years, I don’t get tempted by the company of others drinking, but just was so wiped from the day). Was it rude to not stay?



I'm no old-timer, but at our dz it wouldn't be "rude" not to stay. I actually use to do the same thing when I first started on AFF. Jump, then leave. Then, someone invited me to go out to dinner with everyone after sunset and I slowly started to get to know the jumpers/instructors. I started staying 30 minutes, then an hour, then for a bit around the bonfire.....but what I found happening was I genuinely started enjoying my time hanging out at the dz with everyone. Now, I don't just stay for a few hours--I'm often there the whole weekend! And I'm not the only one. IMO, I think that speaks volumes for the quality of people that jump at our dz and the way the dzo runs the place. I heard that it becomes like a second family, but sorta brushed it off at first....then when you get to know a few jumpers, then another and another, it really does end up feeling like a little extended family. Even though I'm still getting to know everyone, I've really enjoyed gaining a whole other group of friends that really are starting to feel more like a family. I'm sure there are other sports out there that might be like this, but none that I've ever known. Just another aspect of skydiving that makes it all worth the (calculated) risk!

I bet you'll find a similar experience....you'll get to know everyone and then start making plans around STAYING at the dz! Bonfires, crazy games, lots of good times! No one will think you're rude if you don't, but you'll miss out on all the fun!!! ;)

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its not rude to leave. on the other hand makes things a lot easier if you are an active member of the dz. i didnt know anyone when i first started jumping, but now my dz friends make up a large portion of my friends. the more people see you around, the more people you will meet, and that means more people will be willing to jump with you. i live 90 miles from my dz, but i go up there for the weekend usually and spend the night.
"Never grow a wishbone, where your backbone ought to be."

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Obviously, I'm not an old-timer in skydiving, but in years on the planet, I am. I'm one jump away from self-supervision, but I've brought beer and pizza to the DZ a couple of times just to be friendly and meet people. My personal DZ beer-buying rule will always be: "When in doubt, whip it out." So far, it has worked well to help "break the ice" with the experts.

Don't feel bad about leaving when you're wiped out. It's pretty common (especially in my age group). Nobody will think you are being any less friendly for it.

As far as tipping goes, I feel that money is an impersonal thing to give to someone doing something really personal (like teaching me how not to die), so after my first jump I gave personal gifts (things with meanings attached to them) to my instructors. However, I agree that they should be making a lot more money for what they do (that goes for school teachers, firefighters, police, and everyone in the military as well).

I did give a cash tip to one of my JMs once after a not-so-good AFF jump (all my fault). He tried to refuse, but I told him it wasn't for him, but suggested it was for the babysitter he was going to hire before telling his wife they were going out on a surprise date that night without the kids. I'm not sure if he did that, but I hope so.

I hope that helps. In the end, though, I was told by one of the instructor/riggers at my home DZ that the decision to "beer or not to beer" is always up to the individual and that tipping isn't expected, but usually appreciated.

Joe
simplify

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I have some questions about DZ etiquette that Im hoping you old timers can help me out with. First, at what point am I supposed to buy the beer?



After every significant jump. Student program graduation, first rig, license, first night jump, etc. This is heavily weighted towards people just starting which is a good thing.

After you're experienced it's less important because every one knows you; unless you go to a new drop zone, in which case you should bring a case of beer for first jump at a new DZ.

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Was it rude to not stay?



While not rude, it's not in your best interest.

The point of buying beer is that you'll meet up to 23 (24 in your case) other skydivers. Some will invite you on loads, one might teach free packing classes on the condition that you later pass it on to two new jumpers, one might have a used rig sitting in their closet that's your size and available for a low price, etc.

You're loosing out on that experience if you don't hang around.

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Thanks for all of your input. I definitely haven't felt any pressure from the people at my drop zone to tip/buy beer or do anything I didn't feel comfortable doing, I just didn't know what was the norm, and I've been known to not understand the social norms and act out of turn a time or two in my life. ;)
I know the instructors at the drop zone love what they are doing; it shows in their faces, their actions and their attitudes. They have been extremely generous of their time and information. I feel really at home there, and look forward to long and happy friendships, and a lifetime of learning.
Now on to AFP 3 Sunday… life is turning into a series of waiting my turn to jump next!

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Second question is on tipping etiquette. I was shocked to read the average pay for instructors in another thread, I had no idea the person training me, whose got my life in his hands, makes so little.

Tandem instructors make ~ $40-$50 an hour. That ain't bad. AFF instructors, maybe $30 an hour. So if you're a starving teenager just trying to scrape up enough for each jump, like I was when I started, don't worry about tipping me. If you're a successful middle age dude like I am now, bust out a twenty every now and then.B|

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there is no need/requirement or expectation to tip or to buy beer (as a non drinker, you might also consider bringing a case of soda - or ice cream in the hot months - or buy pizza).

as for the original question.....

if there is any pressure to tip, buy anything, one should take their business elsewhere - they should be professionals


however, both beer and tipping are voluntary - so don't worry about what's 'expected' or 'typical'.

Suck it up and decide for your own self how you want to handle it.

The benefits for beer/soda? people meet you, you talk to them, you might integrate into the social structure,etc.

The benefits for tipping - there better not be any other than showing gratitude - I know of no instructor that would slack his efforts if he expected no tip - if I did, I'd focus on getting him fired

...
Driving is a one dimensional activity - a monkey can do it - being proud of your driving abilities is like being proud of being able to put on pants

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As an aside, some people who are "now sober" (as well as some others) are uncomfortable buying beer or anything with alcohol, as a matter of personal principle, even if they won't be drinking any themselves. That's generally OK, too; one can substitute something like soda, pizzas, etc.

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See the story linked below.

http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=2896015;page=unread#unread

Note how the tradition of walking around giving beverages to folks on the occasion of my A license help set the stage for the great day that followed. The beverage tradition provides a structure for social bonding AND for the old dogs to help folks debrief after significant events. Of course, there is an element of "hazing" in this tradition for some "beer fines", such a landing on the runway.

What beverage you bring is less important than the relationships you build.
Heck, if you wanted to, you could probably substitue food and get the same effect. A platter of BBQ here in TX would go a long ways toward making social connections.
The choices we make have consequences, for us & for others!

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From that thread . . .--CReW: I have been told that my personality will fit in well among CReW dogs. (What exactly does that say about me?) . .



usually it just means they need a bath and a shave

...
Driving is a one dimensional activity - a monkey can do it - being proud of your driving abilities is like being proud of being able to put on pants

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