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Just Call Me Scrooge

My breakfast at Bean & Bean, consisting of oatmeal and a regular coffee just came to $8.05. I picked up the oatmeal and took it to the counter, got the bag and put the oatmeal in it myself, went to the table and put cream and sugar in my coffee while making sure to wipe where I set my coffee and not otherwise leave a mess. I did not use the bathroom, did not use any of the tables or chairs. I am a regular there but was not greeted warmly (not coolly either – just kind of a standard “I can help you here.” Even though it’s Christmas and other holidays, I think I’m justified in not tipping. All they did was pour my coffee and put the lid on.

I did get the stink eye for stiffing so, if I was in the wrong, I think I got my just desserts. Or maybe the baristo is just sour grapes. Either way, I got my breakfast feeling like I overpaid for the product but was not gonna overpay for the (non)service.

When did it happen that places that are principally self-service started setting out tip jars? I usually do tip there if there is a reason, like if I ordered a specialty drink that requires some work or extra preparation. But having tip jars out wherever you pay for something you’ve purchased that you can eat or drink now feels like a slippery slope into being asked for money just because you have it. What next? Tip jars at the grocery? At Macy’s? At Santa’s lap at Macy’s? Wait — I think that already exists. It reminds me of the guy who makes his living standing near the door of Citibank in Park Slope, opening the door as you enter and, when you leave, opening the door with one hand and holding out his empty hand with the other. It feels predatory. And I’m just not buying it. It’s like tipping has become a tax instead of an incentive for better service.

Does this make me a Scrooge? Maybe. I like to think it makes me a principled tipper. Not too long ago, I worked at a fast food organic/healthy food store in Park Slope for $7.00 cash. I was thinking of opening my own restaurant and wanted to learn the business. So I went from $200,000 a year to $7.00 an hour. And I worked hard every minute of every hour for those each of those seven dollars. I served coffee, cleaned behind the counter and at the tables, endured the kind of crowd that only a place such as this in Park Slope could attract, and their kids, carved chicken, packed multiple meals, took take out and delivery orders, did food prep, bakery and the like. And I was sweet as pie through it all, saving my outbursts for gritted teeth conversations in the cell phone during my cigarette breaks (this was back in my smoking days). But I never expected a tip unless it was from someone who sat at a table or otherwise made my job hell (like asking for four separate bags for each individual item – which one patron did regularly). So I have been on the other side of the counter. One of my earliest jobs was doing pizza delivery. Tips were so rare that one time, when some @sswipe teenage boys made me wait at the door for five minutes only to come back giggling and throw a handful of grubby pennies in my hand, I actually said thank you and meant it as they slammed the door shut. But I’m not bitter.

Happy holidays everyone. And when you do tip, tip like you mean it. Cheers!

QUESTION: what is your policy on tipping? Do you give a bonus to sanitation workers, your postman/woman, anyone else? Go ahead … gimme the dirt!

4 responses to “Just Call Me Scrooge

  1. maybe the height of our tips could correspond with the advice or praise we’re allowed to lay on a waiter or waitress.
    some sort of legal tender is the night.
    1-2 dollars on 8-10 bill—–45 seconds of manifesto
    2-3 dollars on a 11-12 bill—–crooner and croonerette ballads

    but seriously, it’s a question of standing up
    and i agree with you 100 per cent. it does feel “predatory.”
    like the restauarant owner is too cheap to pay the waiter/waitress what they deserve and so they drop the burden on the customer and then it fits into some collective guilt complex.

  2. Ralph ⋅

    TIP- To Insure Promptness. Never confirmed that’s what it stands for but it sounded reasonable when I heard it. In a restaurant type establishment, someone I know who has been a waitress for many years will typically double the taxes as a tip- more for good service, less for poor. In restaurants that is my guideline.

    Steven did hit on something. Some restaurant owners do in fact underpay their waitstaff. When tipping is part of your income your employer DOES NOT have to pay you minimum wage so long as tips make up the difference. One restaurant used credit card payments to ‘make up the tip difference’, and in effect had employees working for free. To add insult to injury, come year end, taxes had to be paid on money that was never actually made. At least one restaurant (now out of business) did exactly that. A number of places take a percentage of the wait staff’s tips to pay kitchen staff and other workers. Some places ‘pool’ the tips then divide them equally, so an extra tip for good service gets divided between everyone.

    Knowing all that I generally double the taxes, and in one place always go beyond because of the service and attention. Maybe the good service is because of the tipping, but either way I don’t mind paying for the extra attention and the staff doesn’t seem to mind my appreciation. Everyone walks away happy.

    I guess that is the bottom line. If someone goes out of their way for you they deserve a tip. Someone pouring coffee into a cup, probably not. But if I like mine ‘shaken, not stirred’ and that’s how I get it, they deserve something extra. The mailman and sanitation get tips. The regular mailman ‘goes the extra mile’. The sanitation by me also does a great job. On occasion the pails and covers look like they were flung in anger, but that’s probably when the regular guys are off. Likewise, when the regular mailman is off you can tell by the mail delivery.

  3. Ralph ⋅

    Afrikaans – een plesierige kerfees
    Argentine – Felices Pasquas Y felices ano Nuevo
    Armenian – Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
    Azeri – Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
    Basque – Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
    Bohemian – Vesele Vanoce
    Brazilian – Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
    Breton – Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
    Bulgarian – Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
    Chinese – (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan (Catonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun
    Cornish – Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
    Cree – Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
    Croatian – Sretan Bozic
    Czech – Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
    Danish – Glædelig Jul
    Dutch – Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
    Esperanto – Gajan Kristnaskon
    Estonian – Ruumsaid juulup|hi
    Farsi – Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
    Finnish – Hyvaa joulua
    French – Joyeux Noel
    Frisian – Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
    German – Froehliche Weihnachten
    Greek – Kala Christouyenna!
    Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka
    Hebrew – Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
    Hindi – Shub Naya Baras
    Hungarian – Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
    Icelandic – Gledileg Jol
    Indonesian – Selamat Hari Natal
    Iraqi – Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
    Irish – Nollaig Shona Dhuit
    Italian – Buone Feste Natalizie
    Japanese – Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
    Korean – Sung Tan Chuk Ha
    Latvian – Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno Gadu!
    Lithuanian – Linksmu Kaledu
    Manx – Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
    Maori – Meri Kirihimete
    Marathi – Shub Naya Varsh
    Navajo – Merry Keshmish
    Norwegian – God Jul
    Pennsylvania German – En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!
    Polish – Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
    Portuguese – Boas Festas
    Rapa-Nui – Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
    Rumanian – Sarbatori vesele
    Russian – Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
    Serbian – Hristos se rodi
    Slovakian – Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce
    Sami – Buorrit Juovllat
    Samoan – La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
    Scots Gaelic – Nollaig chridheil huibh
    Serb-Croatian – Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina
    Singhalese – Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
    Slovak – Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
    Slovene – Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto
    Spanish – Feliz Navidad
    Swedish – God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
    Tagalog – Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
    Tamil – Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
    Thai – Sawadee Pee Mai
    Turkish – Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
    Ukrainian – Srozhdestvom Kristovym
    Urdu – Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
    Vietnamese – Chung Mung Giang Sinh
    Welsh – Nadolig Llawen
    Yugoslavian – Cestitamo Bozic
    Papua New Guinea – Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu

    Almost forgot, have a safe and happy holiday season!

    • Revel


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