Stand By Me

It’s not tipping I believe in. It’s overtipping. – Steve Martin, My Blue Heaven

I must start by reminding you that I warned you yesterday that the cold weather was liable to make me grumpy. This perhaps explains — no, justfies — why I’m taking a stand.

Yesterday, Bill and I went to Tokyo Joe’s for lunch. We haven’t been for a while, but their chicken and rice bowl sounded good on a chilly day. I placed my order and handed the cashier my credit card. The setup was all fancy-dancy, you know, where you sign your name with your finger on an iPad. But before you do that, there’s a spot where you are to add your tip.

And that’s the point where I took my stand. I didn’t tip. I didn’t overtip. I didn’t undertip. I simply didn’t tip. Because all she did was take my order, and frankly, didn’t smile even once as she did that.

Now is the point where I will tell you that I am a good tipper. While the fact that customers have to subsidize restaurant servers’ wages via tipping annoys me, I’m also aware that if that practice went away, restaurant owners would be required to pay their servers better and that cost would be passed on to consumers. So I tip. And frankly, no matter the service, I almost always tip at least 20 percent. But that’s when a human being is taking my order, placing the order with the kitchen, bringing me my food, filling and refilling my water glass, listening to my complaints if necessary, and so forth.

Not just standing at a counter, punching in my order, and taking my payment.

So I’m taking a stand: no more tipping counter help. Haters, don’t hate.

The practice of tipping counter help sort of snuck up on consumers. A few months ago I was at a bakery near our house that specializes in cinnamon rolls. There a sign on the counter that said: If you think we did a good job, leave us a tip.

No. Nope. Nein. Your paycheck requires that you do a good job.

I grew up working at my dad’s bakery. I gave every person really exceptional service. I would take their order, place it in a bag, ring up the order, take the money, and give the necessary change, all with a smile and concluding with a thank you. I didn’t have to move from behind the counter. I didn’t have to refill coffee cups. I simply put donuts in a bag. No tip.

Restaurant servers get paid terribly low wages because they earn tips. I didn’t ask the cashier about her paycheck, but I’m pretty sure it is more than the base salary of the server that works at the Village Inn down the street.

Wow. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I feel a lot better. I’ll just wait to hear from all of my family members and friends in the food service business. Probably no birthday gifts this year.

Oh, and by the way: I also have stopped contributing money at places where the cashier asks, “Would you like to donate money to the Give a Kid a Break Fund?” Why? Because I would rather give money directly to a nonprofit instead of giving Target or Whole Foods or Walmart the tax break and the decision about where the money goes, thereby allowing them to boast “Benny’s Big Box donated a million dollars last year to charity.”

Have a nice day. And you’d better hope that the weather warms up.


5 thoughts on “Stand By Me

  1. To quote Seinfeld “We now have to tip for the absence of outright hostility”. It’s ridiculous and I’m not having it.

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