Something needs to fix tipping in this country


Tipping is out of hand. It seems like everyone is looking for a gratuity, reaching into my pocket anytime I make a purchase.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for tipping. I’m not one of those Ayn Rand brown-nosers whose college dorm room economics tell them to never tip their servers as a protest against the food service industry.

Like it or not, this is the way eating at restaurants works. You’re not striking a blow for service workers everywhere by stiffing them on the tip. You’re being a major-league jackwagon by refusing to pay for the service you received.

If you think your wait staff doesn’t deserve a tip, be sure to tell them before they take your order and go to the kitchen to be alone with your food.

This goes double for people who go out after church and then “tip” their servers with Bible tracts that look like money but promise a “greater reward.” Next time, pay your mortgage with those Bible tracts and see how that works out for you.

Even though I’m in favor of tipping, I have to draw a line somewhere, I just don’t know where.

It started at the coffee shops.

Whenever I get a latte, there’s a tip jar there to thank my barista for their service. I can live with that; tipping a buck at a coffee shop has been standard for years. If I can’t afford the dollar, I shouldn’t be getting a latte in the first place.

It makes me neurotic though. Sometimes, when the barista hands me my change, I’ll wait until they’re looking at me before I drop the dollar into the jar. I can’t do it when they’re making my coffee because they won’t see me do it.

It’s not that I want the credit, I just want them to know that I was looking out for them. I want them to remember me next time as a stand-up guy, not because I stiffed them a buck.

Because they remember. Oh, boy, do they ever! They’ll pretend they don’t remember you, but then they put way too much foam on your latte. Or don’t fill it to the top. Or give you decaf when you ask for regular. Or vice versa, and then you don’t fall asleep until 5:00 in the morning.

But mostly, I don’t want them to think I’m an Ayn Rand brown-noser.

Now the credit card screens have tipping built-in, and I think the baristas are a little embarrassed about this. They punch in my order and then turn the screen toward me, but they won’t make eye contact. Suddenly, there’s something more interesting on a nearby wall, and they have to go study it as they fumble to flip the screen toward me.

“It’s just going to ask you a couple of questions,” they mumble.

Except it doesn’t ask questions, it puts me on a guilt trip. It says, “How much are you gonna tip, Mr. Moneybags? Is that all? How are you like a bird’s song? You’re both ‘cheap cheap cheap!’” It’s rather off-putting.

It wouldn’t be so bad if coffee shop prices weren’t getting outrageous. Several shops in town charge $6.50 or more for a regular latte. It used to be $5, which means prices have increased by 30%, and I’m supposed to tip on top of that. I can’t get out the door for less than $7.50.

I found a new place last week that charged $7.50 for a 20-ounce latte, which makes it the first and last time I’ll ever go there. I bought the smallest latte and was immediately set upon by a band of blood-thirsty pirates who demanded I “cough up my booty.”

I said that we were in public and there were children present, and they said, “Arrr, no, ye cheapskate. We meant give us yer gold!”

Tipping has made its way into many quick-serve restaurants, but not all of them. McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s don’t ask for tips, but Subway does. Anytime I get a sandwich, which now costs more than $11, I’m asked to tip on that as well.

The payment screens even have the tip amount helpfully filled out with amounts like 15%, 18%, and “Get a load of Mr. Moneybags!”

What’s the tipping etiquette here? Do you have to tip? Is it required? Or is it just the owners trying to get out of paying their staff a living wage?

Servers at sit-down restaurants don’t make a full wage, so they rely on your tips. That’s the system we all participate in, except for the Ayn Rand brown-nosers.

Anyone working behind a counter is getting a full wage, but it’s only $12 to $15 per hour, and you can’t live on that. Quick-serve restaurants were supposed to be the more stable alternative to working for tips, except now we have to tip there, too.

When will it stop? When will restaurants pay their people a living wage so they don’t need me to supplement their lives when I’m struggling to get by myself? How far will tipping go before someone finally says, “Enough! This far, but no further!”?

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