Where I do draw a line with tipping

Tip jars.  Cannot stand them.  A caveat: This does not include bartender’s tip jars.  I tip bartenders quite well, thank you, and often a bar for a variety of very good reasons has a tip jar.  That’s the problem — tip jars made their way from the functional necessity of corraling hard-earned bar tips to other businesses where they come across as lazy begging.

Most notable of course is eating establishments.  I will tip unless given extreme reason to do otherwise in any table-service setting.  I’ve even tipped well for dicey service because of a sense of empathy for the server’s situation, i.e. too many tables or working a 12-top alone.  What I will not do is cave to the peer pressure of a glass jar or cutely dolled-up coffee can in any counter service environment.  You see this a lot in quirky little restaurants that are basically fast food joints, except the quality and reputation is higher and it’s probably locally-owned.  But you still stand in line, give your order, wait for your food, then take it to your table.  How can you tell when you’re in a fast food place that doesn’t like to be thought of as fast food?  Easy:

  • Fast food without pretense:  Dishwasher is either a high school kid or otherwise hasn’t finished high school.
  • Fast food with pretense:  Dishwasher has a liberal arts degree and leaves for extended stretches to tour with his band.  These are the places you’ll find tip jars, usually decorated with flair and some smarmy catchphrase by the cashier, who also has a liberal arts degree (working on her masters) and once dated the dishwasher.

I might make an exception if I order some extremely out there and time-consuming drink at a coffee house, except that I don’t.  I order coffee.  Half the time it’s self-serve.


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