It's interesting that BTQ should post about tipping (based on a SMP post about tipping.) I had started a post about tipping about a week ago, but never finished it, because, well, that's how my life has been recently.
What happened to get me thinking about tipping was that I went out after work with a group of co-workers. The bill came, and everyone threw down the amount of cash they thought appropriate, based on what they had ordered. (Presumably, everyone factored tax and tip into their contribution.) One guy said, "Does anyone mind if I just take the cash and put it on my card? I didn't get a chance to get cash..." No one objected, and he put the bill on his card.
As we walked out of the restaurant, one of my co-workers asked me to wait for her, and she slipped back in the restaurant. When she came back out, I asked her, "Did you forget something?"
"No," she said, "I noticed that [the credit card paying co-worker] left a crappy tip. I just went and left an extra ten dollars. We go there a lot, and I don't want them to hate us." I offered to give her a few extra dollars, but she refused it.
And, if you think about it, assuming that everyone factored a fair tax and tip into their contribution, that means that the guy who paid the total probably got away with paying less than his fair share, and pocketed everyone else's tax and tip contribution.
Anyway, I later got into a conversation about tipping with the co-worker who snuck back in to leave more money. She said that because she had worked her way through college as a waitress, she was always sympathetic to service workers, and always leaves a good tip.
"And now," she said, "they'll take me to the front of the line everytime I walk into Starbucks because they know I'm a good tipper." (What exactly makes you a good tipper at Starbucks? How much is a good tip on a $4 coffee? What does that make your daily morning total?)
So, Starbucks. Hmmm. While I consider myself a good tipper, I obviously don't get the whole tipping-at-Starbucks thing. While I certainly don't leave "the customary 20%" I'll drop some spare change in the jar now and then.
But, why tip at Starbucks? Does it have something to do with food and beverage service, because it reminds of a restaurant? I've also noticed a tip jar at our little local ice cream shop, but I always kind of assumed it was because they're all high school girls working there. And I'll stick in a dollar now and then, but I'm not calculating 20% of my cone. But why don't we tip at McDonald's? What's the difference?
Why not tip at the pharmacy? And what about the other places where we don't tip?
I worked in high school as a hostess in a restaurant that was in a hotel. Foreign guests would sometimes tip me when I showed them to their table. I usually told them that they didn't need to. (But once in a while, I'll admit, I'd just pocket it without saying anything.) We just don't tip hostesses. (Although, the waitstaff was expected to tip the hostesses a portion of their tips at the end of the night. And, if they didn't, guess who didn't get as many tables the next night.)
I had another friend who asked me whether I ever tip fitting room attendants. No, it had never even occurred to me. But, why not? In some places, we tip restroom attendants.
So, while Milbarge wants to know how we went from a customary 15% to a customary 20%, what I want to know is, why do we tip where we do, and not at other places? Why tip at the car wash, but not at the dry cleaner? Is it just because they have a jar out?
In which case, I totally need to carry a little jar around the courthouse with me.