Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Keep The Change $$$

Involuntary Reaction

Venti half-caff, please
Cozy, smiling service
My hand tips a buck

Gadabout has been keeping his eye on American’s tipping habits these days, and has concluded that they are out of whack. You may, or may not, recall Steve Buscemi’s roll as Mr. Pink in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. “I don’t tip. You don’t tip at McDonald’s, so why should you tip here…” European’s have an entirely different tipping protocol than we do here in the States. They tip significantly less abroad, but that may be based upon the fact that servers there have a higher base pay than in America. But this is not a global discussion, so let’s stay within our own boarders.

Our tipping convention is generally 15-20% at restaurants based on pretax totals. That’s fine and everyone, for the most part, conforms. A $100 tab is rewarded with a $20 tip. Enough on that though because I really want to focus on coffee shops, like Starbucks.

The Starbucks experience is unique upon itself. You can go to McDonald’s and pay a buck for a cup of coffee and walk out the door without ever even considering offering a tip. It is not expected and there is really no way to offer it if you wanted to do so. Starbucks is different, though. At Starbucks you’ll often pay between $2.00 and $3.50 and most people drop all their change into the tip jar. Sometimes (well, a lot more than sometimes), customers will toss in a buck if the change is only a few cents. If the order is, say, $3.82, and a 5 dollar bill is used for payment, the happy American will usually feel guilty if only 18 cents is offered so will just keep the change and surrender the buck. That’s over a 25% tip for pouring a cup of coffee and sliding a scone into a paper bag.

Starbucks is a very unique tipping environment in this way, and I cannot find any other food service outlet that comes close in comparison. Gadabout tips like this at Starbucks too. I feel sort off guilty if I don’t. I mean, you have the young cuties serving up your favorite blend, smiling while they hand you the change and you just cannot help mindlessly making a superior offering. It is a momentary dream like trance wherein your voluntary decision making abilities are overcome by invisible forces. It is cozy, warm and happy. The music is calming, and the smiling faces silently suggest that we are special and important to all living beings on earth. Sure, keep the change!


Elizabeth said...

I never tip at Starbucks! That is ridic....I don't tip people to pour me a cup of coffee, I mean come on! Working at starbucks is a glorified retail job... you don't do anything while receiving decent benefits and free coffee.

Elizabeth said...

I mean, honestly, if you tip at starbuck you might-as-well be lighting your $$ on fire...

Gadabout Jack said...

Yeah, but most of the women are cute!

Bobo said...

I'm going to have to visit a Starbucks and see what I've been missing.