Do I Really Need That?

This topic needs a new category because methinks it’s going to come up more often:  Old Age.

I don’t know if it’s actually increasing as I get older or if I’m simply noticing it more because the consequences are in my face, but I seem to be dropping things left and right.  Sometimes I’ll drop something, pick it up, drop it again, pick it up again, drop it a third time, then stand there and think… do I really need this?

I mean, as I get older things as simple as bending over… and getting back up, just sayin’… are somewhat of a chore.  As I get older the prospect that what is now on the floor can just stay there gets more and more appealing.  I can kind of understand how an older person’s home becomes a hoarder’s paradise.  The person’s mindset could very well be, “Meh, I didn’t need that anyway.”

Soap Box: The Opposite of Bad Tipping – the Entitlement Mentality

Wow.  Just… wow!  No tongue-in-cheek tonight.  I’m serious.  A ‘Soap Box’ post.  This is the second post in a row where we talk about tipping, and this one wasn’t planned, but I read something tonight that annoyed me so much I felt the need to comment on it immediately.  Before we start I want to make sure a couple things are clear regarding my attitude about tipping.  The Disclaimer, if you will…

  • I tip.  I tip well.  Most often 20%+.
  • I don’t begrudge paying a tip, per se, but I do get annoyed by the constantly moving target aspect.
  • All but five states (I think) allow tipped employees to be paid less than minimum wage.  I think that’s wrong.  Minimum wage should be minimum wage.  (I don’t think tips should be taxed as income, either.)
  • The biggest annoyance regarding tipping in general is how it’s turned into an entitlement mentality.  That’s what this post is about.  I recently read on a forum where a server talked about how the tip was her money before the customer even gave it to her… but this is even worse than that.

I am going to do something that may or may not be kosher.  I am going to post this person’s post from another forum in it’s entirety, as posted and unedited.  I feel that to properly understand the depth of unethical behavior here it all needs to be said.  (I’ll elaborate further down.)  I am not including the name, though I suppose if you’re internet savvy enough you could probably find it on your own.  So, without further ado, here we go…

The question was:  How do waiters and waitresses handle “regulars” at restaurants who are terrible tippers?

The server’s answer was:

I handle them in a very simple way. I slip a service charge on their receipt. I always go under the “usual” good tip, I put 15% on. I get paid solely in tips. I don’t get tips, I basically don’t get paid. One bad tip isn’t going to ruin my day. But if I wait on you hand and foot to get $2 on an $85 bill and you do it every week, you bet I’m going to put a service charge on.

I had this couple that always came in. I was actually cashiering this night, another server got their table. We all know how horribly they tip, and dread getting them. They take up all of our time, asking for suggestions, pretending we forgot something when they never asked for it in the first place, multiple refills, etc. They tip $3 no matter what the bill is. I’ve seen their bill go up to $78, still a $3 tip. She put a service charge on them. Oooooh boy. They came up me at the front and demanded to know what this charge was. I told them “it’s an automatic service charge, it’s an automatically calculated tip to your server.” She was livid, “this is WAY higher than I would normally pay! Why is this on here?!” Uhhh m’am it’s because your bill was $45 and you still would have tipped her $3. I notice she went back and forth from the kitchen to your table at least 7 times with a smile. I think she deserves at least a 15% tip.

I don’t feel bad. We make $2 an hour. Until that changes and we get paid fairly, you can afford to leave a decent tip. If you can’t, don’t go out to eat. If your server sucks, by all means leave a small tip. If you leave $3 every time, I’m going to put a service charge on. And no, I won’t take it off and neither will my manager.

EDIT: I turned off comments because I’m not looking to argue. I wrote my answer, if you have a different opinion then write your own answer. No, automatic gratuity is not illegal. There is no legislation against using service charges. Usually they are only added to large tables, 6+ people at 18%. (hence, my adding 15% is a low amount) The IRS made a decision that starting in 2014 automatic gratuity would be a service charge, meaning it does not count as a separate income as a tip to the server, it goes to the restaurant and they have a choice in giving the money to the server as a tip or keeping it for themselves. This means the customer does not have a choice in paying this amount. Since posting this I’ve gotten multiple comments saying this must be illegal, I felt a need to clarify.

Again, just… wow!

I get there are bad tippers.  There are also wonderful tippers.  I’m not defending bad tippers, especially chronic bad tippers. If you’re a chronic bad tipper, screw you, you’re a cheapskate, but it’s still your money until you decide if/when you tip.

Think about the hypocrisy.  If someone tips  35% does she chase them down and give back the excess?  Ha!  I bet not.

She talks about her actions being legal.  I question that.  Maybe.  I know service charges are legal when stated up front, but afterward as a surprise, and at random based on her whims?  (I would have spoken to her manager at another time, and if that didn’t get satisfaction I just might file a small claims suit against the restaurant solely to make my point.  She’s an agent of her employer and it would get her employer’s attention, more so than if I sued her.)

Notice at one point she says, ” I notice she went back and forth from the kitchen to your table at least 7 times with a smile. I think she deserves at least a 15% tip.”  You think?  YOU think?!?  Not only are you deciding if they tip, but you get to decide how much?  Entitlement much?

She turned off comments to her post.  Basically she knows her attitude is sketchy and she doesn’t want to have to defend it.

This, THIS, is exactly the type of entitlement mentality that our tipping culture has degenerated to, ‘If you don’t give it to me I’m going to take it.’

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.  🙂