The Humorless Twit’s Best Tip | October 2009

 

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Not to brag, but I tend to be a generous tipper when I go to restaurants, get my haircut, or receive a similar service where a tip is usually given.

By way of example, I just got my hair cut a few days ago. The haircut itself was $15; I gave the lady who did the honors a $5 tip.

Just this evening, I had dinner with my wife at a Chili’s. The service was good—not stellar, but solid. The bill was $29. I gave our waiter a $9 tip.

In fact—again, not to brag—I usually leave a minimum $7 or $8 tip on a restaurant bill that’s $30 or less, and I’ll leave more if the bill is more.

Okay, so why am I making myself out to be the Mother Theresa of tippers? Because I’d like to point out that few things annoy me as much as going someplace where a tip is NOT merited at all, and seeing a tip cup staring me in the face!

I mean, they expect a tip at a sub shop? At a place where I have to go to the counter to place my order? Or a tip at a fast food restaurant?

Is it just me, or does it seem EVERYWHERE you go nowadays, you see a tip cup on the counter? Is this just a Miami/South Florida phenomenon, or is this going on everywhere across the country?

What’s worse is that, invariably, when you walk into one of these places, the hired help is hiding. But there’s the ubiquitous tip cup, larger than life and in a place where you can’t miss it.

When the employees at many of these places finally deign to grace you with their presence, they give you dirty looks and ask “May I help you?” in a tone of voice that indicates they’d rather be, oh, having a root canal done without anesthesia than serving you. In my mind, I fantasize about obliging them. But I’m hungry and—customer service principles or no—I don’t want the person preparing my food to get too upset at me while he/she is preparing it.

So I meekly place my order, all the while daydreaming about re-enacting a scene from the film The Marathon Man, with the food preparer as Dustin Hoffman and me as the old German dentist.

My food gets microwaved/handled/wrapped by the food preparer. I walk up to the cash register to pay and see “the tip cup,” which—as a gimmick to entice customers to leave tips—has at least a one dollar bill in it and assorted coins. I pay for my food and the cashier deliberately hands me my change with a flourish, designed to draw attention to the tip cup.

Sometimes I’ll pay with a credit/debit card to foil the cashiers. But they’ve caught on. Now there are fast food joints where the credit card receipt will include a line meant for you to write in a tip amount.

I went to a Cuban restaurant near my home recently, to order food from their window for take-out. Despite the fact that the “waitress” here did about as much work as an order taker at a fast food restaurant, there was that line for a tip on the credit card bill. That’s when I whipped out the cash instead—just enough to pay for the food.

Honey, I’d’ve happily tipped you—and generously—had I eaten inside at your restaurant, not taken my food to go. Nonetheless, I’ll leave you with these “tips:”

-Can the surly attitude.
-Can the “I’d rather be a million miles away from here” look.
-Can the phone call to your friend complaining that you “have” to work today (be grateful, there are millions of unemployed people in the U.S. these days) and the snarky “oh, here’s another pesky customer interrupting my phone call, I’ll have to call you back” comment.
-And last but not least, can the tip jar.

Do all that and I might come back and I might actually leave you a generous tip.