Recently there was an article in LFpress titled Here’s a wise tip: pass on that tip jar.

I don’t like tip jars. So I agreed with the article. I agreed that if you should tip someone who goes out of their way (meaning above and beyond what is required of them as an employee) it is nice to tip them. I also agreed with that you don’t have to tip your coffee barista.

“Tips” jars are just tacky.

Imagine if servers and bartenders and other people you normally tip carried around a “tips” jar on their tray. I am almost certain you wouldn’t tip them then. I almost never leave tips in a “tips” jar. I just give it to the employee or if there is no “tips” jar, I tell them “thanks for that extra help” and make sure that their boss knows what they did either by telling their boss or by sending their company a quick email (if possible). That tip is probably worth more than the .50 cents you will leave them with for the day. In fact, I don’t even think .50 cents is much of a tip anyways. You might be thinking “man, this girl is tacky for just saying that.”

I used to bartend and serve both food and drinks. In fact, I worked some jobs just for tips. I probably made more money on working just for tips than I would have just working for minimum wage elsewhere.

I started out serving food at an Italian restaurant. I sucked at serving food. I never saw more than $100 dollars in tips. It was frustrating because I would see some servers leaving with more than $300. I eventually was fired. Not in a conventional “you’re fired” or “we are letting you go” kind of way. The manager just stopped giving me shifts. This is typical for the hospitality industry. People are just **dying** to find a waitress/serving/bartending job because of the money to be made on the side in tips. Okay, well not **dying** and not everyone wants a job like this. It takes a certain type of person/personality to be able to do this: work for tips.

Anyways, I ended up finding a waitressing job when I was 18. In a local bar. In my first interview with them, I was asked if I could tell the difference between “rye” and “rum.” I lied. I said yes, but in fact I never had a drop of alcohol in my life (then anyways). I ended up working for this establishment for a while and eventually became a bartender. I loved serving drinks. Yes, alcoholic drinks. It was much more fun serving drinks than it was serving food. If you effed up a drink order, people didn’t really care much….they were just happy to be out drinking! Food on the other hand….you can’t mess with people’s food orders.

So what does this all have to do with the LFpress article? Well, the other day I had a quick chat with a girl from back home who moved to London ON and was working here in a coffee shop, and she told me about her coffee-shop job and it slipped out that her boss is horrible and only pays her minimum wage. 10.25/hour. Servers/bartenders are in fact paid less than minimum wage. Why? Well, they work for tips. They go to work for sometimes 12 hour shifts, on their feet the whole time, working for less than minimum wage and working for tips. This is why it takes a certain person/personality. You have to be people-friendly and able to handle disgruntled customers when they become irate.

Your coffee-barista is being paid minimum wage. Yes, minimum wage sucks but you know what sucks even more is that “tips” jar.

In fact, I hate these “tips” jars so much that when I volunteered to help serve drinks at a fundraising event someone asked where this jar was. There wasn’t one but a girl put one out. I honestly thought it was tacky. When I was handed $25 dollars in tips at the end of the night, I thought that the money should have went back to the fundraising event. I felt bad. Seriously. But I didn’t give it back, I ended up using it for my cab ride home (because it was after 1:00 am and the public transit wasn’t running anymore).

Have I tipped anyone who gave me bad service? That’s a yes-no answer. Yes, I still leave tips for servers/bartenders (not as much as I would left for exceptional service) but still a tip. When I hear people say “I didn’t tip that waitress because she gave me bad service,” I think that is just as tacky as the “tips” jar. I even urge family and friends to leave a tip when I am out with them and we have bad service and I explain to them that they work for less than minimum wage and that if they don’t want to leave a “great tip” at least leave a “little-less than great tip.” And mostly those who have worked in the industry would understand what I am saying and usually those that have worked in the industry can tell who has worked/is working in the industry by the amount of tip you leave (yes, we can usually tell by the amount of tip you leave). So yes, I tipped people in the industry regardless of whether it was bad service or not. It’s just a straight “no, I don’t tip bad service” for those in other industries. Depending on the level of bad service. (if it’s rude, racist, discriminatory, I usually tell the boss/owner/company)

Have I tipped anyone who didn’t work in the industry? Yes. I have tipped the shoe-fixer-upper (don’t know correct name of that guy who fixes my shoes). I have tipped the dry cleaners, the seamstress, the flight attendant, the gate keeper…. the list goes on. But only because the employee went above and beyond of what is required as them as an employee (who am I to judge what is required of them as an employee but you can generally tell when someone is going out of their way to make you happy as a customer/client. So tip them). I have even been tipped by a client when I worked for one organization where you don’t normally tip the employees. Then, I turned that tip away because I didn’t feel right taking it.

So, do I tip coffee-baristas? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. And if I do it’s only because they have done something to make me happy/comfortable as a customer in their coffee shop that day.