The tipping point

Here’s an idea for the 2008 presidential candidates: make all
restaurants be required to make their payment options be via server
only. Otherwise, it can just get too tricky.

I recently had lunch with a co-worker, and after the meal, we waited
in line at the cash register to pay. Since I never carry cash, I put
mine on my debit card, and my friend paid for hers with cash. The
total for both bills came to about $15, making our total plan to tip
$4 rather generous but not extravagant, particularly since we’re
talking about four freakin’ dollars.

I included my $2 on my debit bill, and my friend was prepared to carry
her $2 back to the table (she would have left it on the table before
leaving to pay, but she didn’t have any small bills). Actually, she
was prepared to place the burden on me, as she claimed to have to use
the bathroom, leaving me to walk all the way back to the far reaches
of the restaurant to leave the money.

She hands me the two bills and off I go, but as I round the corner, I
see the table has already been cleaned off and two more people have
been seated.

This posed a problem.

I needed to surreptitiously leave the $2 since on the surface, it
looked like we were somewhat stiffing his service. But now, thanks to
my friend’s inconsiderate ways (and, due to her small girly bladder,
possibly incontinent ways), I need to track down the server and hand
him the money.

Of course, in doing so I would need to explain that the total tip was
$4 and not the smallish $2. I was afraid that would sound made up,
though, so I opted to leave the money with the cash register clerk,
who promised to give it to our server.

My mom also causes tipping dilemmas whenever she pays for a meal. She
staunchly refuses to place a tip on a debit card, thinking it’s
somehow better to leave cash on the table than to write it in on the

Let’s not forget, however, that my mom is old and still hides the tip.
I don’t mean she leaves it under the salt and pepper shakers like some
older folks. No, my mother folds the bills about 16 times and then
often places it down inside the container holding the sugar packets. I
doubt a single server has ever found one of her tips, but plenty of
iced tea drinkers have been pleasantly surprised.

What mom doesn’t understand is that by dividing the way she tips and
the way she pays, she just winds up looking cheap to the cashier when
she leaves the tip line blank.

Sometimes, though, she actually makes it worse, as hard as that is to
believe. A few times, she has actually left half of the tip on the
table and written in the other half, thus causing workers on both
sides to think she’s cheap.

It could be even worse, though, I guess. She could have left a third
with the sugar packets.


3 thoughts on “The tipping point

  1. Although I don’t understand why she hides the cash tip, as a former waitress and bartender I love your mom! Any tip left on a credit card has to be claimed at the end of the night. No server in his or her right mind ever claims more than 10% of their total nightly sales. Debited tips have to be claimed, no matter what…and since you’re taxed on what you claim, your measly $2.13 an hour gets real measlier. Leave cash. It makes a cheap tip much nicer.

  2. I also hate the whole pay at the register thing. I feel like part of the service is to take my cash or card or whatever and make change and bring it back. If I have to walk to to the register to get change to bring back to the table I feel like an douche if the table is already in the process of being cleared. It’s uncomfortable to hand people four or five bucks in person to say thanks for being my bitch for a half hour. I’ve also been places where the bill was say thirty bucks, I pay with a fifty and the waitress brings back a twenty. It’s almost tempting to just leave nothing when that happens. I finally just got to the point where when that happen I just say, “Hey, if you want any of this you’re gonna need to break it up a little bit.” I’m also don’t like that in many places the servers all split up the tips at the end of the night. I feel that if I and everyone else leave a small tip for crappy service it might encourage a crappy server to pursue another line of work. If they’re splitting with the good servers it accomplishes nothing to tip well for great service or poorly for poor service.

  3. Servers in corporate restaurants have to tip out the bartender (whether you drink or not), the runners (the person who actually brings you the food), and the expo (the person who put the food on the tray for the runner) and the bussers (even if it’s a slower night and the server cleans up). So stiffing the server is really stiffing the server.

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