Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The tipping point?

Editor | July 10, 2024 7:00 AM

I’ve been conflicted about tips lately. Whenever you check out nowadays it seems like they’re asking for a tip. Should I tip the girl who handed me a muffin out of the case at Coffee Traders the other day?

In that case, I didn’t, as the rest of the proverbial clan had ordered breakfast and presumably left a tip.

I worked in restaurants for years all through high school and college and after college. I considered a career in the field, as I enjoy cooking, and still do. Being a line cook can be one of the most fun things to do in life if you have a good crew and things are going smoothly. When they’re not, well, it’s very much like an episode of the “The Bear,” which is currently my favorite TV show (on Hulu).

Having said that, as a line cook I don’t recall ever getting a tip. 

Sure, we got paid a little more an hour compared to wait staff and in this particular restaurant, we were allowed to eat just about everything save for steak and scallops, and we always got a stiff drink at the end of our shift, but it wasn’t exactly fun watching the waitresses count their wad of cash while they wolfed down a cigarette at the end of the night. (Back then you could smoke in restaurants).

Waitresses made coin at this place. Line cooks, not so much. 

But now tipping is included as an option on just about every checkout app. So when do I tip? It depends. If the person is pleasant or helpful, even if they’re just handing me a muffin, they get a tip.

Take the girl at the deli in Choteau the other day. We wanted a couple of subs to go and the place was busy without enough help (pretty typical for restaurants these days) and the woman running the show said it would be 45 minutes. But the girl behind the register said she would make them and in a few minutes they were done. I gave her a $5 tip.

On the other  hand, I had some work done on my car the other day and when I went to pay the mechanic on a bill that was already sizable it asked me if I wanted to leave a tip, which at the low end, was going to be $80.

“It’s written into the software,” he said.

For me, that was definitely a tipping point and we both had a good laugh.