Tips – when did the concept go so wrong?

I got my car washed this morning (it was f-i-l-t-h-y courtesy of snow and lingering salt), and the guy tending to it did an outstanding job. Like always, I tipped him but threw in extra. Coz, you know, he was THAT good. Then I went to the bagel store, got in line, ordered a plain bagel, paid, and left. But not before noticing a brand new tip jar on the counter near the register.

Uh. What went wrong here?

Here’s the deal. I was brought up that tips were meant for those who provided a service. In particular, for those people who earned less than minimum wage because there’s an assumption by the state they work in that they’re earning their money in tips. It’s NOT extra pay for the underpaid. It’s a way of telling a server that they’ve done a bang-up job, given you outstanding service, and you’re going to give them credit for it. And if you don’t tip them well, that’s your way of saying their service crapped big ones and they’re going to have to survive on the less-than-minimum-wage paycheck that week.

Lynn Kelley Author | WANA Commons

Lynn Kelley Author | WANA Commons

So let’s see. I currently tip the guy who washes my car. The woman who cuts and colors my hair. The server who helps me choose a great meal and who, without fail, ensures my dining experience was enjoyable and, if they really went above and beyond, memorable.

Then, in my opinion, there’s the gray area tipping. The guy who takes my luggage to my hotel room, and the woman who takes my luggage through the airport terminal so I don’t have to carry it. Cab drivers and parking lot attendants. The folks who clean my room after a hotel stay (now there’s a thankless job). The people who clean my house (who get a tip at Christmastime, as a sort of bonus). The mail carrier and garbage men (who also get a tip at Christmastime, as a sort of bonus).

LMRitchie | WANA Commons

LMRitchie | WANA Commons

And then there’s the I-don’t-get-why-you’re-asking-for-a-tip tip. These are the containers near cash registers at the gas station or at the local coffee shop or, as I mentioned above, the bagel store. Ummm. Hold on a second here. If a tip is for outstanding service and is meant to supplement a worker’s income because they get less than minimum wage because tips are the basis for their income, then why would I tip someone who is getting minimum wage (or more)? Better yet, why tip someone who is doing their job and where it doesn’t make a heap of difference whether they give me crappy service or great service?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a solid tipper (just ask the wait staff at my favorite restaurants who, when they see me, ask me to sit in their section). But I’m also a confused one.

What do you think?

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About terriponce

I write about twists, turns, past lives and suspense
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12 Responses to Tips – when did the concept go so wrong?

  1. Penn says:

    The glass jars confuse me too. Who gets the tip? The store’s owner or do the staff divvy it up at the end of the week? And what of the staff that aren’t there at ‘divvy’ time? Do they still get a cut? Do staff who work all week/day get more of the share than those who work part of the week/day? I think those glass jar contents should just be donated straight to a charity with a sign beside them – “Thanks to your small change, we donated $75.48 to the homeless last week!”

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  2. Michelle says:

    I tip according the service I get. Placing a tip jar on a counter is not a good way to “earn” a tip. However, providing service that is above the ordinary will.

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  3. Terri, great post. I’m a generous tipper for good service, and at restaurants I tend to tip more than I should for mediocre or poor service. But I agree–people expecting more for doing their jobs shouldn’t expect more added on to their salary. As a teacher, I appreciate every apple, chocolate, or flower I receive. I routinely ask kids not to gift, because I remember my days of being a struggling Mom. But imagine if teachers (or clerks in department stores etc.) set up tip jars?
    Not appropriate!

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  4. Funny thing – I’ve been noticing the same thing, a jar every where. That $2 cup of coffee is 3 if you toss a $1 in the jar. Then it’s the car wash and the deli and the chamber event cash bar. I could go on but it is everywhere, you are right. I might star keeping a log to see what it adds up to in the course of a week.

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  5. Patti Munoz says:

    I love your post on tipping. We just had a big discussion at work on this subject. It seems everyone has a different opinion. I don’t tip everyone. I don’t get a tip at work for doing a good job. I don’t even get a bonus. But my boss does treat weekly for lunch out of her own pocket. That is just pure kindness and appreciation for me as a person and fellow colleague. Let’s just do without money and live on the barter system. I’ll cook for everyone.

    Patti

    >

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