My job is not dependent on tips. I am not a server or bartender; tips are not expected at my job. However, they are a super tangible perk that I can see accumulate as I steam gallons of milk each day. But why am I writing about them? Well, tips are not quite as simple as all that.
|that crazy $20 tip|
So sometimes people give a dollar or the change from their dollar, and some days they don't. But I can't figure out what makes a person tip and what motivates them to pocket the $0.35 I hand back. (Please, let me be clear here: I do not begrudge a person keeping their change! I do that, too. Sometimes you need quarters, sometimes you feel super poor, and sometimes you just don't want to give up your damn money!) I think I am equally nice to everyone who comes in. If you know me, even a little, you know I am pretty upbeat and happy. I try to ask everyone how they are, even if there is a long line. I smile all the time, even if I just dumped cold brew on my crotch or chipped a nail. I engage in small talk, about the weather, the new semester system at OU. I humor those who think I'm 19, and I give small personal details to people who think they know me (they usually do...small town).
But the tips? It's like a completely random system. I mean sure, I know certain regulars always give a buck. They are awesome. And I know certain regulars who usually pay with card will try to dump some change in the jar at least once a week. And, of course, I know certain regulars who never tip. It's the ones I don't know that I can't predict.
My brother, who used to deliver pizzas for Papa John's, once told me that old people and young women are the worst tippers. Naturally, I took offense to this (probably his intent) and have tried my best to defy people's expectations that I am crappy tipper just by default of my age and sex. Well, I have tried to figure out a pattern of who tips and who doesn't tip at my coffee shop, but it is much more complex than old people and young women. Sometimes a random 19-year-old will give me $0.50 after buying a Gatorade, when I did literally nothing for him. And sometimes a perfectly nice person who chats me up won't drop a dime. The only pattern I can discern is that people who pay with cards don't tip often. But that just makes sense--someone who is buying a $3 coffee with a card probably doesn't have any cash on them!
I think my favorite people are the people who buy a $1.95 coffee and dump the nickel in the jar. Whenever I hear something fall into my jar, I try to chirp a "thank you!" I figure that's just common courtesy, right? Unfortunately, it tends to embarrass those nickel-droppers, and then they apologize for only giving me $0.05. I prepared a little speech after the 3rd time I got an apology response ("it's cool--if everyone gave me a nickel, that would be awesome!"). But I think it takes a pretty self-aware person to apologize for tipping--and these people are usually the broke grad students, the busy moms, the old bachelors. And they probably need their nickels as much as I do.
Anyway, I try to pay my tips forward as much as I can--to the bartenders who serve me drinks, the people who work the same long hours I do, serving food and drink behind a cash register, on their feet all day. To me, a tip jar is an opportunity to make someone's day a little better: after they have swept up all the crumbs, thrown out the trash, and dried their dishpan hands, they get to count their tips. It's a sweet moment when your $60-a-day job is suddenly $75 a day. (That's 25% more!)
If you have any insight on the world of tipping, I'd love to hear it. My mathematical brain will keep trying to figure out a pattern. And may I just say, thank you for your tips. Remember--we tipped workers will hardly ever judge you for keeping your tips to yourself, and we will continue to appreciate every nickel.
|how I feel about this post...and tips|