To Tip or not to Tip, That is the Question.

I know the Noid isn't relevant, but...
I pushed open the door of the Domino's Pizza joint just nanoseconds behind a disheveled guy who failed to hold the door open for me--even as (though) he acknowledged my existence with a head nod seconds earlier in the parking lot. Thanks buddy.

Oh well, I was having a good day. Just two hours earlier, I arrived home from four days of camping--and not just your run-of-the mill campsite camping, but out of cell-phone, wi-fi and electronic device service camping with dirt, hiking, lakes, fishing, campfire cooking, and more dirt.  I love camping. I love the post-camping shower almost as much. I felt refreshed on so many levels.

It's good to get away. But now I was looking forward to a fresh hot pizza.  After camping, anything hot (other than a hot dog) sounds good; Domino's is fortunate that they are right down the road from me.

I was tired, and contemplated delivery, but then there's the delivery fee and tipping, and it isn't worth it when the pizzeria (Domino's doesn't qualify for that moniker, does it?) is right down the road.

So when I stepped up to the register, I was perplexed (as I always am) when the little "tip" line was on my receipt.  For pickup?  The employee literally turned around, grabbed my pizza, hit three buttons and swiped my card. Less than 30 seconds? It's almost worth carrying cash around for these type situations.

I stared at that blank line on my receipt before signing. The cashier, capitalizing on my moral quandary hesitation, added, "How's your day going?"

Usually I'd reply like it was my mother asking me about my day at school, "Good." But this time, for some reason, maybe it was the being refreshed and not yet anti-societal, I replied...

"You know, I'm good. Just got back from camping up in the mountains with no amenities; my wife already unpacked the whole car; and my shower was amazing."

I don't know why I was oversharing with a stranger, but, sensibly, I stopped myself short of telling him that I exfoliated with my wife's Dove body wash, and even used one of those girly bathroom Brillo pad/sponge things that administer soap in an endless supply.  (I thought about making this whole post on just that 20 minute shower, but I really don't want people associating me with nudity).

Never-nudes: There should be more.  Way more.  

Suddenly I realized that Mr. Domino's cashier and I just shared a human experience. Was his simple salutation worthy of a tip?  Damn you buddy for making this pizza transaction more complicated than it had to be!  I just wanted a $7.99 deep dish pizza, and you had to turn this into a relationship?  I don't have room for anymore twenty-something dudes on my friend's list.  I already have former students as Facebook friends and I don't even understand their Generation Y quirks.

My password is Creed-fan4life.  Oh crap, it doesn't work.  

A dollar. Is that good enough? What percentage is that? Like 13%? To earn this in an actual restaurant one would have to offer coordinating wines and pronounce the house specials with fancy French names like Velouté sauce in an uppity way.  Is Domino's even a restaurant? This one doesn't even have a table...I can't sit even if I wanted to...Isn't this the fast-food of pizza places?

Why is tipping so hard?  Why does this guy get a tip, and the gas attendant who washed my window(without asking), doesn't?  Why not the super-friendly cashier at Trader Joe's who actually knows my name, recommends what's good (and not good) and bags my groceries with care?  Why is it only people in the service industry (and not people who actually practice quality customer service) that get tips? Why are we forced to play by these unwritten laws that say giving 15% extra isn't even generous, but dare I say, cheap?

Years ago, my wife and I (we notoriously receive bad service--I blame the fact that I almost always wear a ballcap) thought about inventing a tip-o' meter. You place it right at the edge of the table so that the waiter always knows the score.  It starts at 15% and goes up or down dependent on how good or bad the service is. 10 minute wait before asking for drinks? Down to 12%.  Happily refilling my ginger ale, even after the fourth time? Up to 18%.  Being genuinely nice and personable without being annoying? 20%.

I guess they have an app now.  Stupid apps.  
But the tip-o' meter doesn't rectify the inequality for those who receive and those who can't receive the extra gratuity. Tipping should be a generous offering based on quality customer service, not an expected additional cost (especially in Oregon where minimum wage is $8.95).  Some of these waiters are making more than I am as a teacher. Some deserve every penny they get. Others, well...I'm sorry...if I can see you checking your text messages instead of bringing me my meal, I think the only tip you deserve is me giving you this advice: "get a different job."

Maybe I just don't understand the social ineptitude of the generation below me which makes up the majority of these type jobs now. They seems to get nervous when they go off-script. They seem to have trouble finding words and/or solutions when something goes wrong. Customer service, and earning a tip, should go to the person who is proactive in making my experience first-rate, not an expectation based on social norms.

And businesses: Please eliminate the tip line from receipts when no service is offered. I can be generous, but I shouldn't be put in a moral mess (crisis?) because an employee treated me like a human being. (I worked eight years in customer service, breaking my back for certain customers, and in all eight years, I received a total of three tips...all because my industries weren't considered "tippable" jobs).  I'm not bitter.  I enjoyed giving great customer service.  I like to help. I just want to understand why we tip who we do, and why it is expected even when the service given is second rate.

That's just my two cents on the subject (which coincidentally is a tipping insult). Maybe you can offer a tip on this theme (or how I can eliminate all the parenthesis from my writing)?


  1. That tip line is there by default from the delivery system. I do feel your pain though. I work as a ski and snowboard instructor and frankly, I make good money for doing something I love as a part time gig. However, I work on the most well paid instructing staff in Michigan. In short, it is a service job and we do enjoy being tipped. We have debated adding a Tip Line to our receipts.

    Back more directly to the post, I have in many occasion left pennies for a tip if your service is poor. If a server does a damn good job, a $20 spot isn't unusual for me. I've even almost tipped the cost of my meal at breakfast.

    Poor service doesn't deserve reward. In most jobs, poor quality of work is rewarded with a trip to the unemployment line.

    1. Adam, I have tipped, and usually prefer tipping in industries like yours, where a well qualified instructor made a process easier by actually knowing his/her stuff (and also knowing how to teach). Other times I've offered a tip, and the person has said, "oh, thanks, but I could get fired for accepting that."

      Just seems weird who we tip, and who we don't.

      And yes, eventually bad servers get fired. But not until my date night is over. Only twice have I withheld a tip, and it felt really dirty.

  2. Why does Dickie Yo's have a tip line when the customer makes his/her own yogurt?

    1. Good point. If we tip ourselves does it subtract from the total bill?

  3. As poor college students, we used to write tips for our waitress on the napkins. We thought we were very clever, poor waitress.

    1. You mean like IOU's? Like in Dumb and Dumber? "That's better than money. That's an IOU. 275 might want to hold onto that one."

      If so, those poor waiters/waitresses.

  4. I've given up on understanding the tip world. I see it all the time with take out food. (Yes we probably eat out too much) When it comes to food service I always play it safe and tip at least a couple dollars for take out. Never know when I might be back and I don't want a permanent mark in my file.

    1. Hopefully St. Peter, when standing at the pearly gates doesn't say, "Chris, there was one time you didn't tip over 15% at a borderline sit down eatery. Two years of purgatory."

  5. Ah, the tip quandary. I am the world's worst tipper, partly because I'm poor, and partly because I'm cheap. I appreciate tips, as I used to work in the food industry, but never expected them. They were like a nice bonus. And I agree - no service, no tip. I try not to feel guilty about it.
    Now, I know how you feel about France, but let me tell you, I loved their tipping system. Basically, you just toss pocket change on the table. Any more than that and you look stupid. I REALLY enjoyed that aspect of French dining...

    1. For once, I LOVE THE FRENCH! That felt so good; almost cathartic; and freeing.