Mar 19, 2008

Tipping... not just for cows!

Pick up muffin. Bring muffin to cashier. Pay $1.50. Put change in "Tip Cup". 

Umm... say what?

I realize the profit margin on a lump of batter with 7 cranberries is only, what... 98%? But surely things are not so dire in the land of the $4 coffee as to warrant actually tipping these people as well. Talk about taxation without representation. Apparently, going the extra mile these days means actually giving customers their mathematically-correct change. Here's my tip: Just because you upgraded your title to barista, or Joe-ologist, or Chief Java Officer does not entitle you to a raise, okay Cody? 

My old restaurant manager was fond of saying that TIPS stood for To Insure Prompt Service (because, as we all know, the smart time to tip servers is as they're seating you). She was also big into hair-twirling and Billy Ray Cyrus, but at least her achy-breaky heart was in the right place. Tipping is our bourgeois way of saying, "I know your job sucks, so here's a little something to dull the pain." By the way, you really are an aspiring actor if you can smile through my grandmother ordering a cucumber sandwich at Swiss Chalet.

Another bon mot from the Waiter's Manifesto is that "Tipping is not a city in China." Well, not since they changed the spelling to Xhipiang, anyway. I'm guessing the Chinese literally have bigger fish to fry than whether or not one is supposed to give cash to a person who has done absolutely nothing. Even panhandlers smile and nod if you only give an apologetic shrug instead of a quarter.

But that's for actual "service". What we are now dealing with are donut-drones who somehow feel they can cow us with a taped-down styrofoam cup that has "tips" - or worse yet, "College Fund" - scrawled on it. It ain't gonna happen. My money goes to Those Who Bring Me Food While I'm Sitting Down. 

So, here's the deal, waitron. Because I've been there.
  1. If you acknowledge my presence and remember my order, you get 10%
  2. If you do the above and smile, you get 15%
  3. If you also make an honest recommendation and the food rocks, make it 20%*
Caveat: that whole Sassy Waitress thing negates all the above. If you think that snapping your gum and and telling me to eat my peas is somehow endearing, I implore you to review a few episodes of Alice, and take note of Flo's socio-economic clout.

Call me Mr. Pink, but tipping has to have a purpose. The Americans are big on it; the British, not so much. That should probably tell you all you need to know, but here's some free advice to the waiters of the world: Americans like their food hot and their drinks cold, and plenty of both. If you provide for them, they reward you. Conversely, when you go there, they will provide for you - and then some - and they expect to be rewarded in kind.

And no, you do not tip on the tax.

*I realize that food preparation and presentation should not influence my tip, but there is reality to consider. I will happily penalise you if the "rare" steak I ordered could be used to filter impurities from water.