Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 2:45 pm | Fair and Breezy 59º

 
 
 

She Said, Z Said: Rips on Tips — Gratuity Included

Tipping etiquette is a lesson in self-negotiation

Z: I was at Fresco the other night picking up take-out food when I was faced with a Sophie’s choice.

She: You had to choose which one of your children would live or die at Fresco last night? All I usually have to choose from is two kinds of soup.

Z: That’s not ...

She: Wow, that place has changed. And so have you. I thought we only had one kid.

Z: No, a metaphorical Sophie’s choice. I had to decide whether to tip on take-out food.

She: Oh. Yeah. Perfect metaphor.

Z: I hate it when I get take-out food and there’s a blank line for tipping. What am I supposed to do? If I leave it blank, I’m a moron, because then somebody could fill in any amount. If I zero it out, then I’m the jerk who doesn’t tip. But if I tip, then I’m the idiot who tips on take-out food.

She: Your life must be very stressful.

Z: Who tips on take-out food? Tipping for take-out food is like tipping at Macy’s or McDonald’s. They put your stuff in a bag and they take your money. What are you tipping for?

She: I’m glad you focus your frustrations on important issues.

Z: And don’t get me wrong, I love Fresco. I’m not picking on them, and I get it. If you’re eating there, then there is some service, and you may want to tip on that. But take-out?

She: Oooh, I hate that you’re dragging me into this, because now you’re getting close to one of my pet peeves.

Z: Come on. You can do it.

She: Pre-tipping. What is that about? How do I know how my service is going to be?

Z: You don’t. You can’t. And if you could foretell the future that clearly, then you wouldn’t use that power to predict how good your service was, you’d use it to win the lottery, and then use that money to over-tip everywhere. Problem solved.

She: And if I do tip at the counter at Fresco, how do I know that my server knows I tipped? They might think I’m a cheapskate and not bring me any bread next time.

Z: The eternal dilemma.

She: I sort of understand pre-tipping at Starbucks, because you get to know your barista, and you can sort of predict your service.

Z: It sucks to be wrong, though.

She: I also don’t have a huge problem giving a buck or two here and there to hard-working servers and workers who aren’t exactly making a fortune. But I hate when they get all passive-aggressive on you with their little sayings like “Support Counter Intelligence” or “Fear Change? Leave it Here” on the tip jars.

Z: Yeah. I’ve never loved the tip jar. Feels a little like begging.

She: I used to work at one of those order-at-the-counter places, the Lobster House back before it became Rusty’s.

Z: How does a lighthouse have anything to do with pizza?

She: We ended up doing as much work as any waitress, but never got nearly as good of tips. The rationale was that it was perceived as a better deal by the customers because they ordered at the counter.

Z: We did the same thing at Hot Biscuits.

She: Your dad’s restaurant in Picadilly Square?

Z: People would order their biscuits at the counter, and then we’d deliver them to the table. It was the Carl’s Jr. model. I think I got a fifty-cent tip once.

She: I think the place that comes the closest to handling it well is the Nordstrom’s Café. There’s no place to tip on the credit-card receipt, but they leave a thank-you note and your receipt in a check presenter.

Z: But what if you don’t have any cash? Then you look like the cheap jerk who doesn’t tip. Now that’s a Sophie’s choice.

She: Yes, dear.

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