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.