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Have Tips Lost All Meaning?

Updated on March 2, 2009


I live in Las Vegas, a town that was created completely on tips (or so it seems). I don’t care if you’re putting your car into one of the many casino valets or you’re at a club with a men’s room attendant it seems there are plenty of people who are looking for the tip. But as I go to Starbucks every morning and stare at that tip cube that is at each register, I begin to wonder have tips lost all meaning? – Don’t Get Me Started!

I’ve worked in the service industry (not in THAT service industry, calm down kids) so I completely get that servers are working mostly for that tip at the end of the meal. Which is why it always surprises me when you get bad service at a restaurant or a bar, I mean I remember doing everything but Simonizing people’s cars to get a good tip. How do these lousy servers make any money? I don’t get it. But my point is that if you get good or even great service, the server had something to do with it so I say, tip away. I’m a 20%er on the whole, sometimes even more if someone has given outstanding service so I don’t want anyone to think that my many blogs about being Jewish and stereotypical apply here. Although there is a story about my grandfather when he went with my parents to Hawaii and kept pocketing a portion of the money that they had left on the table as a tip with the remark, “I’m not putting them through college.”

So I get the whole tipping thing but what seems to me is that when you put money in one of the Starbucks cubes you’re really promoting socialism. (Okay not really but I’m sure some Republican can make an argument that leads to that conclusion.) I do have to say that if I’m tipping someone, I want to tip the person who gave the great service and not the entire collective that stands behind the counter (“collective” or “Borg” for those of us who have ever watched an episode of Star Trek Next Generation). I get it that maybe it takes a village to raise my coffee but honestly, if I could I’d be giving the tip to the Barista, not the person ringing up the sale or the person working drive through.

Much like giving is better than getting (for some - again kids, get your damn minds out of the gutter) there’s something you get out of saying, “No, that’s okay, we’re good” when a server comes back with your change. There’s something about having that $5 bill out when I pull up to a valet and am only going in for a few minutes and want them to leave the Mini Cooper out front instead of taking it to the lot. I like these feelings. It may not be solving world hunger or ridding the world of a disease but it’s helping someone who helped me pay their mortgage and in this day and age, what better gift is there to give, huh?

Now there are people who shouldn’t be tipped. I remember watching a Judge Judy episode where a store fired a Santa for putting out a tip jar. Oh Santa argued that his wife had gone home and created it and wrapped it in holiday wrap but the manager who hired him was offended. And honestly, should you be tipping Santa? Couldn’t that be considered a bribe in some circles? Just seems a bit unseemly to me.

Look I’m a caregiver by nature so I like tipping as a way to sort of thank someone for going above and beyond but I think I’m like most people in that I like doing things for others when they’re accepting of it but not expecting me to do something for them. What I mean is that if someone starts to take you for granted then you don’t really get that whole, “Holly Jolly” feeling about doing things for them, right? The same goes for tipping. The more tip jars I see go up with lacksidasical counter help the more it seems to me that these people expect to be tipped even when they do nothing that is really that extraordinary or worthy of a tip. And if anyone who does anything for you deserves to be tipped then where will it all end? Does this mean I should be tipping the cashier at the grocery store that slides my groceries over the scanner? Does this mean the dry cleaner counter person deserves a tip too? ARGHHHHH! Too much pressure, too much to think about I just know that I think I’m right, I think that tips have lost all meaning. – Don’t Get Me Started!

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    • Michellcat profile image

      Michellcat 8 years ago

      I get the feeling none of you have ever been a waittress. Even though waittresses only make 2.15 an hour, they are dependent on the goodwill of the bus boy, the bar tender, the dishwasher, the hostess/cashier, and the cook. At the end of every night, we were expected to "tip out."

      Don't think of it as socialism, think of it as blackmail. The cook and bartender prioritize the biggest tipping waittress over the others. And the ones who opt out of "tipping out" might even get sabotaged.

      By putting the tip jar on the counter, Starbucks is just bringing out into the open what secretly goes on, in every restaurant. If you think you're just tipping the waittress when you go out, think again. And regardless of whether you tip her, not only is she expected to "tip out" some, she's also taxed for 8% of your meal, whether or not she made any money. You do the math.

      Different restaurants have different policies. When in doubt, assume that the employer WILL rip off the employee if at all possible. If the waiter gave good service, naturally he expected a tip, and naturally assumed you'd want him to have it. If management had told him he couldn't keep a tip unless you put it in writing, then he's stuck passing that info on to, huh?

    • srhgompf profile image

      srhgompf 8 years ago from Roseburg Oregon

      My husband and I were in Pasadena at a chicken restaurant. When the bill came, I filled in the meal amount and totaled it. The server collected the bill, looked at it and then came back to me. He handed back my credit card receipt and said, "If you don't write in a tip amount, I don't get a tip." Stunned, I told him that I always left cash and that's what I had intended to do. I so wanted to forget about a tip, but he did give good service. When I told my son, he suggested I write "cash" on the tip line of the receipts to avoid another situation like that.

      I used to work in jobs where I depended on tips, so I also tip about 15%. I never asked for a tip though. It's disrespectful.

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 8 years ago from ma

      The tip jar is a little annoying in that I feel obligated to put my change in it. Even when the employee is just doing their job. They are supposed to have a fair wage. Where as a waitress makes very little money from the employer. But, earns their income from tips. I am also confused on whether I need to tip the people at the curbside to go at the Outback, Applebees etc... All of the chain family restaurant are bringing your food to your car now if you get it to go. It is a great idea. But, I have two legs and never had any issue with walking inside to get my food. In fact it has got to be easier for them on busy days to keep the people that don't need to be inside, outside.

    • Sybille Yates profile image

      Sybille Yates 8 years ago

      But when you tip "in a jar" you also top the people that clean your dirty dishes for example. Seems more fair to me because without the dish washer/ cleaner etc the Starbucks experience would suffer a bit ;-) SY