For my foreign friends in enlightened countries where tipping or gratuity is not required, here is a biased definition.
Let’s say you are a waiter. Your job description is to take my order, retrieve said order, and tell me how much it was. You are paid to do this by the restaurant. However, I must also pay you extra for not killing me or ravaging my wife while you did your job. That extra is called a tip.
I know that many work in fields were tipping is customary, if not expected, so let me make one thing clear.
I am an incredible tipper. If you bring me my food and give me my drink, you’re getting 15% after tax. If you smile and don’t put a knife in front of my 1-year-old daughter, you’ll get 20%. As I said, incredible.
Only once have I not provided a tip of at least 10%. I had a close-to-maxed-out credit card, my wife had some change. Between the two of us and a trip to my car for some coin scrounging, we managed to pay the bill. They repeatedly charged my credit card for decreasing amounts until it finally was approved. I considered leaving the unneeded pennies and nickels but felt like that could be worse. After an embarrassing explanation and heartfelt apology to our server, we left with tails between legs.
This preface should serve to tell you two things. One, that I am a hypocrite but most importantly, that I am a good person, so don’t hate me.
Let’s explore a scenario that occurred recently.
Cashier: Hello sir.
I hand her the car wash receipt
Cashier: Okay.. so one Deluxe wash. That will be… $24.45. Would you like to tip the guys working on your car?
Me: *blank stare*
Me: I’m sorry. Did you ask if I wanted to tip the car wash workers?
Cashier: Yes. We can add that onto your bill here.
Me: Did they do a good job?
Cashier: Um…. I don’t think they’ve started yet.
Me: Then why would I tip them?
Cashier: *blank stare*
Me: What if they dookie in my cup holder? What if they fill up my car with water? Do you think those things deserve a tip?
Cashier: No… but I don’t think–
Me: Me neither. But it makes a lot of sense to wait until services are rendered before I start slapping butts and saying “Good game!”
Me: In fact, wouldn’t tipping beforehand eliminate all incentive to actually do a good job? Regardless of whether they smear excrement on my windows or spend 5 extra minutes scrubbing wheels, I’ve rewarded them the same.
Cashier: *slowly backs away from the counter*
Me: Are you not already paying them? If I come in for a car wash, aren’t the expectations that my car gets washed? Isn’t that why they are here?! Why would I pay extra for them to do their job?!
A moment of silence
Me: No, I don’t think I’ll be adding a tip to my bill. Thank you.
The what-really-happened-train derailed somewhere above but I think I’ve made my point: I have no qualms over scoffing at the tip jar and your face if you’ve provided me nothing more than your job description. Don’t expect gratuity, earn it.
*steps off soap box*