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In defense of tipping

A few months back, I innocently posted and tweeted an observation: I am shocked and must say disappointed in the amount of people I see not leaving a tip when they buy coffee at #Southie coffee shops.  This stirred up quite a conversation.  Do you tip just for the sake of tipping or because the server deserves a tip?  Are there some people you absolutely refuse to tip no matter how good the service.  I come from the mindset that if people are waiting on me, I tip.  I don’t base it on how big the server’s smile is or how quickly they got my coffee.  I tip out of principal.  I’ve had less than quality service at a restaurant and I still give 20%.  It’s just my nature.  

Working at a coffee shop isn’t easy.  It’s fast-paced, physical, and stressful.   Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in the service industry and know that it isn’t easy that I’m so ready to tip.  I was raised by tippers.  My mother was a waitress and so was my grandmother.  My husband was a bartender and so was I.  I get that servers rely heavily on tips and I want to help them out.

The non-tipping issue is not just for coffee shop workers either.  According to one local Southie bartender, people can be pretty tight with the tips when ordering drinks too.  Really?  Who’s not tipping their bartender?  Tip your bartender!  Especially when you expect to get served again.

A conversation had generated about the topic of tipping – when to tip and when not to tip.  I was asked, “Do you tip the food delivery guy?”  Yes!  Yes, I do.

“Do you tip when you pick up take-out?”  Yes!  Yes, I do.

I also tip the Uber driver, maids at hotels, valets, my hair stylist and the lady at the nail shop.  I tip because it’s nice and it’s the right thing to do.  I am by no means the Monopoly guy wearing a top hat, a monocle and c-notes* flying from my pockets.  I’m a regular middle-class person just trying to get by and I tip not to appear like a  high roller but because it’s a nice thing to do.

A comment on Facebook read: do you tip the bank teller for taking your deposit, the supermarket clerk for checking out your groceries or your kids teachers?!! NO. they are just doing their jobs, which is providing a service for you. Maybe their employers should raise their pay.

I would tip all of the above if there were a tip jar.  I once knew a guy that tried to “duke*” a pilot $5 for getting him to a destination safely.  I think we are starting to compare apples and oranges with bank tellers and teachers vs. the people working at coffee shops.

People blamed the reason they don’t tip on everything from the price of coffee (make coffee at home), to the cost of living in South Boston (move), to people not smiling enough (honestly).

I’m not saying you have to tip 20% every time.  I’m not even saying you have to tip every time.  I’m saying leaving a tip is a gesture that says I recognize that you are working hard and I thank you for that.   It’s about being nice so be nice.

*C-note (noun) $100 bill
*Duke (verb) the art of slipping a tip discreetly into another’s hand

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.