Tipping: Why a percentage?

Today we are revisiting the art of tipping… sure as hell isn’t a science… and we are asking the question of why do we tip a percentage instead of a flat amount?

Let’s consider the following scenario:  Let’s say you go to John’s Steakhouse twice in one week, and the scenario breaks down like this…

  • On Monday you have a ribeye meal with a baked potato, broccoli, roll, butter, and two beers. Price: $50.
  • On Thursday you go and have a grilled chicken dinner with a baked potato, broccoli, roll, butter, and two beers. Price: $30.

If the tip were 20% (easy math) the steak dinner tip would be $10. The chicken dinner tip would be $6.

Why? Why the difference when the amount of work and effort by the server was exactly the same for both meals?  Don’t whip out the emotional guilt trip of not eating out if you can’t afford to tip, that doesn’t even address the question.  Don’t sidetrack to the fact that in most states (not all) tipped employees get paid less than minimum wage, that’s an entirely different subject about why we tip at all.  This question acknowledges we tip, just questions why a moving target of meal value is used rather than effort, work and/or service performed. Restaurant owners don’t pay servers based on sales values, why should we the customers be expected to?  Be articulate and come up with something reasonably rational.

Standard disclaimer:  I tip and I tip pretty well.  Usually over 20%.  Be that as it may, I am still put off by how tipping has become an entitlement mentality, and how it seems to continually creep up.  Was 10%, then 15%, then 18%, now people are preaching 20%+.  If sales tax were 20% you’d scream bloody murder, and tipping is really nothing more than a private tax because most states (not all) allow tipped employees to be paid less-to-nothing.  Hmmm… I smell another post.

Needed Drive-thru Etiquette

Rules.  The world needs damn rules, and the sooner the better.  You know, when the world is too lax and needs to be tightened up a bit.  Except, of course, when the world needs to lighten up and not be so anal about everything.  How do you know the difference?  It can be tricky, I’ll admit, but The Grump is here to guide you, never fear.

There are three rules that need to be enacted for proper drive-thru etiquette and an efficient drive-thru experience.  Those rules are…

  1. No more than two meals per vehicle.  That’s right, don’t think you can carry the little league team in your SUV-cum-station wagon behemoth vehicle and order custom meals for ten kids.  Two meals, that’s it.  If you want more, park and go in.
  2. No substitutions.  No customization, either.  You get it pre-assembled.  As is.  You don’t want lettuce?  Tough, you’re getting lettuce.  Does it come with bacon as a standard item?  No?  Tough, no bacon for you.
  3. Credit cards only.  No fumbling with cash, and certainly no digging for change.  Not necessary when using plastic only.

Your experience… especially if you’re the vehicle(s) in from of me, should be pull-up -> bark your order number -> pull-up to the window… no need for two windows now… pay your money, grab your bags, and go!  Easy peasy.

I guess there’s a #4, also:  Know what you want before you pull up to the menu board and speaker.  Don’t sit there looking at the menu of items you’ve seen for the past 20 years trying to decide.  If you don’t know what you want, a large arm comes out and pushes your car aside and allows the next car to order.  Back to the line for you!

With these simple rules your drive-thru experience will be much more pleasurable and stress-free.  🙂

The Grump Blames Toastmasters

The Grump has become downright chatty in social situations.  *gasp!*  I know, right?  He talks to people in public.  Willingly.  He makes idle chitchat with complete strangers.  In line at the grocery store, in an aisle when we’re both scanning the shelves, even in public restrooms.  (Yes, it’s become that bad.)  He… initiates the conversation.

Sometimes people join in the conversation… this IS Iowa, after all, not California… and sometimes people who aren’t as jovial and friendly as The Grump look at him like he has two heads.  When The Grump lived in California, in a past life, this response was not only acceptable, but preferred.  People were rude.  It just was.  The Grump fit right in.  Oh, there was the occasional person who suffered from “Dawn Syndrome” (inside joke for about three people) and who would always smile and try to start conversations with strangers, but those people were always and properly dissuaded from doing so simply by the surly responses they’d get from their intended targets.  This is the environment where The Grump was raised, and in that sense The Grump flourished.

Then The Grump moved to Iowa.  He’d be in line at the grocery store and people would openly talk to him and try to start conversation.  People who didn’t know The Grump, they’d just… smile and talk as if we had been friends for decades.  Initially, The Grump’s reaction was something like in this photo. (That’s Tim Curry, btw, an awesome actor.  Not just as Frank-N-Furter, but check him out as Winston Newquay on Wiseguy.  Awesome story arc.)  Utter disbelief.  Why are you talking to me?  Turn around and mind your own business.  Go away.  Leave me alone.

Then The Grump joined Toastmasters roughly eleven years ago.  The Grump met people.  Good people.  Friendly people.  People he’d run into in the store and who were actually happy to see The Grump.  Whoa, this was new. Toastmasters, without knowing it, taught The Grump how to be sociable, how to talk and have a conversation.  Even “small talk”, which is more important that people think.  And this eventually evolved to The Grump taking the first step and starting the conversation.  Where did this come from?

Of course, the downside to knowing people is that one has to behave while in public.  No more can The Grump ram carts in the grocery store.  No more can The Grump give Iowa drivers the bird for being idiot drivers, even if they do deserve it.  It might actually be someone The Grump actually knows, and that would be awkward.

Fast forward to 2019 and The Grump has become one of “Them”.  A Chatty Cathy,  a talker.  The Grump has become Dawn.

This is unacceptable.  The Grump must purge himself of these disgustingly social tendencies and become grumpy in public again.  Yes, we do know that The Grump is an ultra sweetie guy, but we still have a reputation to uphold, ya know.

Society needs more rules…

…or laws, whatever.

1. Structures and streets should never be named after a living person.

2. Per #1, similar to the baseball Hall of Fame, there must be a minimum 5 year waiting period after death before a street or structure can be named for a person.

3. Per #2, do your due diligence in that 5 years. Once a street or a structure is named, it cannot be rescinded, for any reason.

4. Streets = last name only. Structures can be first and last name.

5. Paper bags are perfectly fine materials for covering school books.

6. For subjects that almost never change, i.e. math, school textbooks, once chosen by a school, should be valid for a minimum of ten years.

7. Unless they are providing it for free, a teacher should be prohibited from requiring any book in which they have a financial stake.

8. College costs should be quoted in one lump sum, per credit. Not per credit, then a myriad of vague fees that equal another credit.

9. A traffic fine should be all-inclusive. If the fine is $250, you pay $250. No fees or costs. If the government wants $375, then make the fine $375.

10. Surgeries in hospitals should be one blanket cost, everything (reasonably foreseeable) in one bill, and quoted in writing beforehand whenever possible.

11. All corporate and government websites should provide a phone number, an email address, and a snail mail address for people to contact them in a reasonable manner.

12. All websites and software programs should include a “No, leave me alone!” option instead of a “Remind me later” option when it comes to updating, etc.

13. If it’s chosen to be displayed publicly, then there should be no image copyright. I.e., the lights on the Eiffel Tower… they knowingly and intentionally put them out for public display, no copyright.

14. No dealer stickers on cars.

15. Software operating systems should never expire. If I like Windows XT, I should get to keep my Windows XT.

16. Doctors and medical facilities should be prohibited from charging insurance companies and individuals different prices. Post a single price for everybody.

17. If a doctor says I need X prescription, I get X prescription. No overruling from the insurance company, unless they are willing to send their own doctor at their own expense to evaluate me as thoroughly as my doctor evaluated me. And then, said insurance company doctor becomes part of my “team”, and I can continue to contact them when necessary.

18. Charging for any type of overhead should be forbidden. I.e. charging for “shop supplies” at a tire shop. No, paper towels and hand cleaner are overhead. Deal with it. (I asked at my tire shop once. The guy got a “deer in the headlights” look and couldn’t come up with an answer.)

19. Re #11 above… When you do contact one of these entities, they should be required to respond with a complete thoughtful answer, and the name and contact information of the person who answered, within three business days.

20. Soda and ice tea prices should be required on restaurant menus.

That’s a start. Are there any you’d like to add?

Moods

“Did you find everything ok?”

😐

I hate that question.  They ask it at most larger stores when you go to check out.  And really, what am I supposed to say?  I answered ‘no’ once and they tried to drag me out of line to help me find it.  Umm, no.  By the time I’ve reached the check-out I’ve given up trying to find it, or caring if I get it.  I am now focused on leaving and going home.  Ever since then I answer ‘yes’ so they’ll leave me alone.

Today I was in a mood.  I couldn’t find sugar-free lemon instant pudding mix.  I’ve bought it before at other stores, but apparently it wasn’t at this store.  The checker asked if I found everything ok.  I told him what I couldn’t find, and that apparently they don’t even stock it… and I was very polite, btw… and he got this real uncomfortable look on his face and just said, “Well, I’m sorry to hear that, sir.”

Ok, then why’d you bother to ask me?  Are you going to notify management so they’ll order it for next time?  Somehow I doubt it.

Don’t you just hate when you’re drinking something, and it goes down the wrong pipe, and you end up coughing uncontrollably for minutes?  But I digress.

Anyway, I often wonder how many people actually answer, “No, I couldn’t find <whatever>.”, and then what the employee does with that complaint.  I usually suspect the store is just play-acting at appearing concerned, but really doesn’t want to do anything about it.  What do you think?

The Grump, annoyed? Shirley, you jest!

Life is tough when pretty much everything annoys you. And let me tell you, my life is tough! Chewy well-done cheap steak like shoe leather tough. Here’s today’s list of dumb observations… or, rather phrased… observations of dumb things…

Dumb Answers

You’ve seen this. A person asks a question on Amazon about a product, something like, “Is this cup microwave safe?” To which some yahoo trots in and says, “I don’t know. I’ve never tried it in the microwave.”

😐

Why did you even bother to try and answer the question? Was it really that critical for you to display your ignorance? <eye roll>

Calling In

You call some business, you get “the maze” of options, with the first thing you hear being, “Please listen closely, our options have recently changed.”

Issue: Methinks they’re playing fast and loose with the word ‘recently’. This same message has been in place for over eight years! So, call me cynical, but here’s what The Grump thinks is really going on…

Translation: “Too many people are stupid, and will contact the wrong department if we don’t push them to listen to the options.”

Why can’t they just say that? “Hey dummy! Listen to the options before you punch in a number!”

…and a final parting shot!

Damn cat!

Things that Annoy Me about Amazon

No idea how this is relevant, but it made me laugh.

The Grump has a love/hate relationship with Amazon… or, Amazon.com.  The ‘long’ name, ya know.  Anyway, on the plus side everything’s so convenient.  And almost always the most economical option.  Get online, put some things in your cart, call up your conveniently stored payment information, and if you’ve been successfully induced to pay for Prime, it shows up on your doorstep within a couple days.  What could be better, right?

Then there’s the flip-side… everything’s so convenient.  And almost always the most economical option.  Get online, put some things in your cart, call up your conveniently stored payment information, and if you’ve been successfully induced to pay for Prime, it shows up on your doorstep within a couple days.  What could be worse?

Be that all as it may, there are some things about Amazon that defy rational explanation, to wit…

  • Asking for reviews the day after I receive it.  Sometimes even before I receive it.  Nothing like jumping the gun, eh?  Ya know, maybe… just maybe… I want to have a chance to, oh I don’t know, actually USE the product before I go on record with a recommendation.
  • Asking if I want to “buy it again” when it’s clearly something no average person would want two of, i.e. the sump pump I purchased a few years ago.  I kept getting asked for several months if I wanted to buy another one.  Pretty sure I need only one sump pump at a time.
  • Finding that one CD you’ve been wanting for years only to know it’s uber obscure or even out-of-print.  See, irrational things can also be positive things.  In this way, Amazon is even better than eBay, if for no other reason than shopping and buying is more straight forward.

So there you have it.  Amazon is a double-edged sword.  Take the good with the bad.  Shop local first, of course, but make local compete.

Grumpy grumpy grumpy!

He’s a model citizen
I think I’ve got them fooled them again
He’s an ultra-sweety guy
And a master of disguise
He’s a model citizen
Just keep believing that my friends
I’m a model citizen

~Alice Cooper, 1980
Song: Model Citizen, Album: Flush the Fashion

Yeah, my new tag line.  That’s been me today, an ultra sweetie guy.  Take today, for example.  I woke up at 11:45.  And I was grumpy.  Extremely grumpy.  Ultra grumpy.  Not at anything or anyone in particular, just grumpy.  And the day just went like that.  Dropping things.  The bark-a-billy dog not wanting to come in so I had to chase his ass down with a leash to bring him in the house.  Canceling a trip out because I knew people and I would not mix well today.  Things like that.  I haven’t been mean or testy, I think, but I haven’t been my usual cute and cuddly, either.  Nothing went wrong, per se, but nothing really went right, either.  You ever have days like that?

So what does a grumpy person do during a day-long grump-fest?

Me?  I stay grumpy.  (Farley’s even grumpy with Roscoe as I write this, it’s catchy.)  I did some things, got some stuff done.  The day wasn’t a total waste, but in a weird strange way I’m actually looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.  I usually wish weekends were always three or four days, but this one two days was enough.  It’s felt all… disjointed.

Tomorrow will be normal.  Thankfully.  Hopefully. Be careful what you wish for.

Soap Box: Rebates, coupons, and other insidious retail games

I don’t think I’m an unreasonable person.  I just want things to be simple and uncomplicated.  I want to save any thinking and planning for things that are, you know, actually important.  And this filters down into daily activities that should be as drama-free and boring as shopping.

Why does shopping have to be so… annoying?  I mean, it’s bad enough that I have to go out and brave the wilds of rude people, now I have to run the gauntlet of pricing, too?

Maybe it’s just me… it usually is, just ask The Wife Missy… but is it too much to ask that pricing be simple and straight forward?  No games.  No illusions.  No fine print.  Just sell me what I want, at the same price you sell it to everyone else, and let me be on my way.  Is that really too much to ask?

I guess so, as evidenced by some of these offenders…

Local Regional Nursery (plants, not people)

At every sale they give special discount “bucks”. the more you spend the more you get.

The catch:  They expire next month and you can only use it at their store.

Local Regional Grocery Store

Absurdly high prices… averaging 30% more, yes, I’ve done two of my own surveys/studies… coupons and special sales galore.  Plan accordingly, or…

The catch:  …be gouged.

Local Regional Home Improvement Big Box Store

Rebates.  Awesome rebates!  11% rebates.

The catch:  In the form of a gift certificate redeemable only at their store.  So, it’s not really a rebate, it’s an in-store coupon.

All of these tactics are designed to get you to come back, of course… often.  I’m sorry, but no.  I’ve probably collected over $100 worth of nursery “bucks” over years, and never used a one.  I go back when I need to go back.  I only shop the regional grocery store when the stars align and they have a good sale AND I need what’s on sale.  Otherwise, say what you will about the primary big box retail behemoth, at least they respect me enough to give consistently reasonable pricing day in and day out.  And I virtually stopped shopping at that home improvement warehouse store solely because I didn’t like being played like that.

What other underhanded tactics can we see?

Coupons and Rebates in General

Manufacturers and retailers aren’t offering discounts and rebates because they’re swell guys.  It’s a gimmick that most people, including me at times, fall for.  They know full well that most people will never claim a rebate, especially if it requires effort, like putting a stamp on an envelope.  They know full well that people who use a coupon will likely spend more on the higher priced items at the same time.  They get to tout themselves as the good guy while not really risking anything.  It’s a win-win… for them.

The World’s Pre-Eminent Online Retailer

Prices change daily, often hourly.  See an item for $63 today?  It might be $57 tomorrow, $68 the day after, and back to $63 the day after that.  In other words, pay attention, keep coming back, and oh… buy some other stuff in the meantime.

Internet & Cell Phone

New customer?  $50/mo for a year.  Existing customer?  Sorry, you pay your standard $90/mo out-of-contract price.

Airlines

Next time you fly, do a survey of ten people sitting around you.  Chances are you all paid different prices.

Bottom Line…

I shouldn’t have to worry about something as simple as pricing.  At least pretend that you actually value me and my business.  You want to impress me?  You want to really impress me?  Just sell me what I want and let me go on my way happily.  I’ll come back.  Honest.

Self-reflection, annoyances, and other random oddities

Sounds like an album name by Collective Soul, doesn’t it?

Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of saying, “Here, let me tell ya…”, and I’m gonna tell ya.

Fireworks

Oh, where do I start?  How about fireworks.  July 4th, or 4th of July, or whatever you want to call it.  Independence Day.  And with that goes fireworks.  So many people loooooooooooooove fireworks.  I couldn’t shit care less.  Seriously.  They do nothing for me.  Ok, yeah, they’re kinda cool, but my reaction is more of a… 😐

Being a semi-serious photographer, I totally don’t get the fascination with fireworks photography.  Seriously, what’s the point?  All the photos look close enough to the same that they might as well be.  There is no discerning difference from one photo to the next.

Ooh, a story:  Many years ago I was leaving Disneyland one night, and while walking to the car the fireworks show started.  That’s not what caught my attention, though.  What made me stop and stare and chuckle was all the Japanese tourists… and if you don’t see the humor in the stereotype, you’re hopelessly liberally unfunny… stopped and ran for a better vantage point and started shooting dozens of photos.  What were they hoping to get?  Were these fireworks any different from the fireworks they’d see in Japan or anywhere else?  Would they be able to tell the difference?  Was it that they were Disneyland Fireworks that made them all that more special?  The mind boggles.

And of course, right now, all the yahoo neighbors are out setting stuff off and generally having an inbred good time.

Procrastination

Procrastination is the bane of my existence. That should be my official trademarked slogan… Ken Boardrow: Procrastination is the Bane of My Existence(tm). Example: When was my last post here? That’s right, about a month ago.  Ish.  Oh, I’ve had plenty of ideas, on an almost daily basis.  I even start writing them down on occasion, and get some pretty good stuff set to keyboard.  But do I do anything with it?  Not often enough.  No, I sit and read random Wikipedia articles, learn about the second largest island in Norway, for example, and generally do nothing productive.

Selective Hearing

I hear what I want to hear.  Ok, not that literal, but sometimes.  If you’re constantly harping on me, then of course I’m not going to listen or pay attention.  Why would I?  I don’t get anything from it.

On the other hand, sometimes… more often than even I like to admit… I’m so far off into my own world that I’m not hearing anything around me at all.  The best part is that I’m probably recreating what I should have said in an argument 30 years ago.  Really important stuff.

How can you tell by looking at me?  You can’t.

Memory

My older family and friends can probably relate to this, but my memory is slipping.  I don’t remember things in minute detail like I used to.  I have lost count how many times I have had to get out of the car, and go back in the house to get what I forgot.  The best part?  It’s almost always sitting right next to where everything else was that I did take.  So, apparently it’s not only memory, but eyesight as well.

Conclusion

What?  Oh, tell me tomorrow, I’ll deal with it later.