I got beef with Starbucks. I love their drinks. I love their scones. I love their comfy seats, and softly lit decor. But that pretentious purveyor of music mixes and mochas has started an epidemic that is spreading through the food and beverage service industry of our fair country, and for that I will never forgive them. I am talking about the increasingly common phenomenon known as “the tip cup.”
Somewhere in the long forgotten history of Starbucks’ world domination, a money-grubbing barista placed a recyclable cup on the counter and scrawled “tips” on the side and in an instant began the largest fleecing of American consumers since The New Deal.
Of course you’ve seen them; they’re everywhere, and with each passing day that everywhere gets a little bigger. Starting with Starbucks, they have long ago conquered the coffee shop industry. They’ve made some serious inroads into the specialty ice cream industry (Coldstone, Marble Slab, even Dairy Queen!), and apparently the Sandwich Artists Union thinks they are deserving of extra compensation as well, because I saw a tip cup sitting at Subway and Quiznos last week.
Every time I see one of these cups I think two things: 1) If he turns his back for one second I’m going to take that dollar, and 2) Where does this guy get off thinking he’s earned a tip? He performed his duty with just enough enthusiasm to not get punched/fired and now he’s standing there behind a tip cup like a dog waiting for a treat. Who the hell does he think he is?
Tips are a privilege and they are the exclusive property of a select group of public servants: waiters, barbers, cab drivers, hotel employees with funny hats, and prostitutes. I don’t know why these people get tips, and I’m not always happy about it, but far be it from me to stand up against four thousand years of tradition. That being said, I am happy to tip extravagantly whenever my waiter/barber/cabbie has provided me with prompt and pleasant service. Just the other day I tipped my barber so generously that he offered to work for me as an indentured servant until I released him from his debt.
I don’t have a problem with tips. They are a token of appreciation for someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and it’s nice knowing that you have the power to manipulate the emotions of another person with only a few bucks. What I have a real problem with is being asked for unnecessary and undeserved tips by restaurant monkeys who are already making above minimum wage for performing one of the easiest jobs our society has invented.
They have provided me no service, they’ve only done their job. Since when does that deserve special recognition or additional compensation? Their boss paid them to make me that sandwich/Oreo Blizzard/vanilla latte. Why do I have to pay them as well? The guy making my burger at Wendy’s, the lady bagging my groceries at Jewel, and the Target employee who tells me where to find the delicious Goldfish crackers have all worked just as hard as the kid at Dairy Queen, and they don’t stand there with their hand out after helping me.
We’ve got to nip this thing in the bud. Everyone has to help. Preserve the sanctity of tipping. Stop enabling this glorified panhandling. It’s only going to get worse, and I for one don’t relish the thought of tossing in some change the next time I go out for a chalupa.