Why do I feel like Mr. Pink?

As a rule, I’m a generous tipper.  Mediocre service at a restaurant garners the server a twenty percent tip and if booze is included in the final bill, I tip on that as well (some folks tip on food only); bad service still gets 15 to 18 percent from me.  I’m generous with my barber, taxi drivers, shoe shine guys, valets, doormen and, most importantly, my bartender or the vendor selling beers at Wrigley Field.  I bring this up not to thump my chest, but to serve as context for my current moral dilema.

My office is pleasantly situated between a Lavazza Coffee Shop and a little restaurant that offers sandwiches, salads, sushi and other fine products.  Twice this week I stopped at Lavazza on my way into work.  I’m a black coffee guy.  I’m not against lattes, cappucinos or espressos, I simply prefer a nice cup of joe.  On each of my visits to Lavazza this week the same young lady served me.  (A bit more context:  I was wearing my work uniform both times — suit and tie).   In order to meet the demands of my order, this young lady took a cup, put it under the coffee thermos, flipped the switch, filled it up, put a lid on it and handed it to me. 

I paid and received my $2.83 in change, which I promptly put in my pocket.  Now of course, there is a huge tip jar right there in front of me to which I contributed nothing.  I sensed (I’m not sure about this) that she was a bit put off that I did not contribute to the tip jar.  I concede some of those coffee drinks require much skill and labor worthy of a tip, but pouring cup of coffee? 

I also visited the restaurant this week.   Upon checking out, I noticed the cashier had a tip jar!  Mind you, there are no servers at this restaurant: there’s a salad bar, a buffet and a short order cook in the back.  The short order cook has his own tip jar (to which I do contribute) but how does a cashier figure ringing up my order constitutes tip-worthy labor? 

Because I customarily tip generously, I almost feel shamed into putting my change into the cashier/coffee pourer’s tip jar but I vowed not to appease the tip bullies.  All this leaves me feeling like Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs.

7 thoughts on “Why do I feel like Mr. Pink?

  1. peashoot

    Why generously tip the beer vendor at Wrigley Field and not the barrista? Their jobs are equally unskillful. Come to think of it, the barrista’s job is more dangerous because of the risk of burn. If you choose to tip your bartender, then I say tip your coffee slinger, too.

  2. wildbillyscircusstory Post author

    Fair points, but you tip your bartender for availability and ease of order, not for the skill and difficulty of their task. And the vendor at Wrigley carries 32 beers as he ascends steps…vastly different.

  3. wildbillyscircusstory Post author

    Oh, and insofar as danger, I’d suggest the vendor owns greater exposure to lumbar injury and the bartender to aggravated assault than the barrista to burn.

  4. peashoot

    Availability, sure, but what do you mean by “ease of order”? And ease for whom? How can the bartender make your order any easier for you one way or the other? As for the Wrigley beer vendor, I admit, I was thinking of a tap-jockey, not the person hiking the steps; Wrigley might be an exception with this profession nowadays, as I seem to recall that at the last couple of MLB games I attended (at SF Giants park and Fenway?), one couldn’t buy beer from one’s seat but had to pick it up on the mezzanine. In any event, I’ve never seen a bartender assaulted physically. Have you? Bartenders and ballgame vendors are, I reckon, subject to plenty of verbal abuse that the barrista probably is not; though this, too, just depends on the location, employee, clientele, etc. Lumbar shlumbar: standing all day without walking more than ten-fifteen feet can do a number on anyone’s lower back, lifting things or not, as any cashier will tell you (this one, too, might be too particular to speculate on). The lumbar point borders on the litigious, Wild Billy, almost like an observation coming from an injury attorney. In the spirit of “Who told you to put the balm on?!”: the millions and millions of take-away coffee cups that bear a clear warning about the danger of potential burn that accompanies the purchase and consumption of coffee speaks not just to the risk involved in handling scalding coffee products for the consumer, but also directs our attention to the danger involved in pouring the stuff and capping the cup, both of which inevitably portend a nasty second degree burn. I still say tip your coffee server.

  5. wildbillyscircusstory Post author

    Okay, I think you’re reaching with the “burn risk” as a justification for a tip. I’ve worked fast food – which in addition to coffee requires workers to clean out the fryers. Ever clean out a fryer? That’s downright dangerous.

    As for assaults on bartenders, there were a couple of high profile assaults on bartenders in the Windy City recently — one by an off duty cop! But remember, if there is a fight in the establishment, the bartender usually has to get into the middle of it.

    “Ease of order” came into play last night. I met a few friends at an obnoxiously crowded bar last night (I did not chose the venue). It took me ten minutes just to place our order, and I had to shout it out. By the third order, thanks to tipping I presume, the bartender knew my request simply by my making a circular motion with my finger to indicate another round.

    Finally, it saddens me to hear about the pending extinction of the roaming “beer man”. Fenway is understandable since the rows are so narrow, but newer stadiums? I suppose these rules are designed to curb intoxication and I imagine this will be a nationwide trend. Happily, I live in Chicago and near Milwaukee and St. Louis. These cities won’t be immune to the trend, but the beer man’s extinction shall resemble the Goetterdaemmerung in these fair towns.

  6. peashoot

    Drat! That I couldn’t foresee the circular finger motion to indicate an established order, indicates that I’ve not been going to the pubs lately [sigh]…

  7. Scott Mersy

    Who’s the author of this post? I don’t see a username at the top. I’m gathering from the discussion that it’s wildbill?

    I tend to tip 50 cents at my coffee shop, but I get latte’s (and the bill is $2.50). I don’t have lots of angst about it, or when I tip only 15% at a low-service restaurant or, sometimes 25% at a bar because I like the ‘tender.


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