Other bits and pieces

Monday, November 21, 2011

How's Everything Tasting?

Every morning, I stop off on my way into work at the little drug store just inside the building to buy breakfast.  I buy a $.59 shrimp flavored Cup – O – Noodle.  I know, that’s degusting you say.  Maybe that’s true, but it’s not any worse than what most of the rest of you are going to eat, so I don’t want to hear about it.  Anyway, at the check-out counter, there is actually a tip jar.  This begs me to ask the following question:  Why in the name of sweet Mary Poppins’ trouser snake is there a tip jar for the lady running the register?  She’s sitting on a stool, taking money, and handing back change.  The store pays you what they figure that’s worth.  I had to go find the noodles myself.  Then I had to walk alllll the way up to the register and stand there until you snorted, “Next!”.  I’m not going to pay more than the product price just because you stuck a tip jar out there.  Why am I being expected to subsidize the wages of practically every employee I come into contact with?  And why do I have to tip so much now?

Tip jars are basically everywhere.  I get tipping a waiter or waitress (Or server, or whatever else they are called now).  From the dawn of food time everyone knows that you are paying the restaurant for the food and the waitress to bring it to you.  They only really get paid enough to take care of their tax withholdings…whatever.  But if I go into a donut shop, place my order at the counter for coffee and a donut, fix up my own coffee (which sometimes means I even pour it myself), pay you and leave…why would I give you a tip?  I’ve already paid like $4 for a cup of coffee (which kind of makes me an idiot in the first place, but that’s another discussion).  They have tip jars at the parking garage.  I press a button (which probably gave me finger AIDS), park my car; and when I leave I hand you exact change so you can press a button to release my car from the clutches of the uppy-downy bar.  I’m not giving you a gratuity for that.  I'm not really that grateful.  The garage at the airport has machine to take my money.  I expect to be let out.  If they aren’t paying you enough to push that swine flu encrusted button, ask for a raise.  I’ve already paid way more than I should have in order  park my car for an hour so I could over-tip the guy at the take-out counter of a Chili’s ®.

Coffee shops, Delis, Chinese Take-out, the UPS store, electronics stores…the list is nearly endless.  I’ve even seen a tip jar at a Walmart cash register for the love of Jenna Jameson.  Sometimes the jar will have some little explanatory note taped to it, like, “For my kid’s college”, or “My dog needs a hip replaced, “So we can bury grandma”.  Now you’re just begging for money.  I love these ones:  When the owner of the store is the one with the tip jar.  Now you’re just blowing sand up my skirt.  It’s your business! You set the prices and just because you’re too cheap to hire some help you’re also at the register.  Here’s the tip you need: If you’re too much of an inept business owner to set prices that will cover your costs than don’t be in business!

“Good sir, how much would you charge me to buy that 10lb bag of women’s underpants?”
“I will sell that to you for $15.00.”
“Excellent, now can I have a little more?”

It’s like bartering in reverse…and it’s moronic from a consumer standpoint.  And even if it’s not your business, I’m not tipping you for doing the job you agreed to do for the wages you agreed to be paid.  You serve coffee for minimum wage.  You call it being a ‘barista’.  It’s just a fancy word for “I pour coffee much the same way you would at home except into a paper cup with an Italian name.”  Here’s YOUR tip:  Minimum wage is probably more than that job is worth.  I’m not giving you more money.

The grocery store where we shop has baggers that work for tips.  After they put stuff your now broken eggs in your bags, they want to follow you out to your car, pushing the cart full of the same groceries you’ve been pushing around the store for 30 minutes, and then expect you to tip them like 10% of your purchase.  They get nasty when I tell the cashier that I’ll be taking my groceries out.  You know what: Go stab a fat orphan!  I’m not paying someone to do a job I don’t need done!  Every other grocery store just lets you take your own crap out to your mommy missle.  Why should this store be different just so I can pay someone to do something NOBODY NEEDS! Do you know how stupid you feel, as a 39 year old man, walking out to your car being followed by a 70 year old retiree pushing your cart?  I mean I’m lazy, but I’m not that lazy.  You’re just paying the guy to torture himself at that point.  So it’s really not that much different than paying homeless people to let you hunt them with paint balls.  But I digress.

Not only are we now expected to hand out extra cash for everything from package delivery to traffic stops, tips for waitresses are magically going up too.  It used to be that a tip for good service at a restaurant was 10-15%.  Now we’re expected to tip 15-20%.  In a recent discussion, one of my friends informed me that’s due to inflation.  Let me divide by zero here:  You’re paying a percentage.  That means as things cost more, the tips go up at the same rate.   If I paid you $7.00 for a meal that cost $50.00 ten years ago, I shouldn’t be tipping you $10 for it now.  The difference lies in the that a meal that cost $50 ten years ago now costs $80, so you’re getting $12 at 15% anyway…so quit crying!

Maybe I should just join the parade and put a tip jar on my desk.  I suppose, if we all did it, and we all tipped each other, it would turn the whole gratuity system into a nil-sum gain.  We’ll all just be trading tips.  I’ll be the only one making money though, because I’ll flood the internet with articles and blogs like this one to persistently establish the standard customary tip for ‘guy who sits a desk and answers emails’ at 25%.  Plus, I'd have a note that reads: Just need money for strippers.  Because that my friends is worth tipping.

That’ll be $5.  Enjoy the rest of your day.

© 2011--Raymond Smith

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