I get it. Restaurant workers earn tips for their hard work. And if someone works hard and brings you your food, you should tip them. How much you tip them is your choice, of course.
Then again, this happened yesterday on my way home.
I really didn’t feel like cooking – actually, lately I haven’t felt like doing much of anything – so I decided to stop and get an order of chicken wings at the local Hooters.
Don’t even start. I’ve eaten at Hooters off and on for a very long time. I may be a very broad-minded person, but let’s keep things in perspective. If you’re going to Hooters and it’s a “to-go” order, you’re not staying there to ogle the waitstaff in their crop-tops, suntan pantyhose, orange shorts and canvas-white sneakers.
I figured, a dozen chicken wings, medium flavor, crispy cooked, would get me out of this low period I’m in.
I walk up to the bar, grabbed a menu and looked for the wing pages.
“Welcome to Hooters, what would you like to drink?”
“Oh, I’m not thirsty,” I replied. “I just want an order of chicken wings to go.”
“Okay,” the waitress cooed. “The bartender will take your order.”
All right … I guess there’s a system of who takes what types of orders …
Bartender sees me, asks what I want to eat.
“I want a dozen medium crispy chicken wings to go, please.”
She takes my order and then prints out my bill. $16 and change. Normally I would just pay with my credit card, but I had some cash in my wallet – and since some of it was in singles, I figured I’d give the bartender $22 so that I would receive a $5 and change, the cash register would have a couple extra $1’s in the drawer – you know that restaurants and eateries are always running short on singles – and I’d be on my way.
Five minutes later, a second bartender approaches me. “Welcome to Hooters, what can I get for you?”
“I’m sorry, she’s taken my order already,” I said, pointing to the other bartender.
“Oh, you got the slow bartender. She’ll take forever to bring you your food.”
I thought to myself, “Well, if she’s the slow bartender, how come she took my order before you did?” But I wasn’t in the mood to let that thought escape my head.
Eventually I received my wings.
But I noticed something.
I had paid for my food … $22 for a $16 and change meal …
And I hadn’t received my $5 and change back.
Wait a second.
Bartender. “Hi, do you have my change?”
Bartender looks at me as if I questioned her intelligence. Then she starts looking through her receipt slips. “How much did you give me?” she asked.
Believe me, I was about ready to tell her I gave her $300 … but I told the truth. $22 on a $16 and change meal.
I figured that with that odd amount, she’d understand and give me a $5 back and keep the extra singles.
Nope. Bartender gives me back five $1 bills and change.
Now maybe they were out of $5 bills, I don’t know … but at that point in time, I didn’t care. I took my wings, thanked the bartender, and left.
This is not how it works. I’m more than happy to tip a waitstaffer and tip them well. But not if they’re going to assume that I gave them a big tip already and walk away. That’s not how it works.
And I get it. Food service workers and gig economy workers exist on such a shallow profit margin, that tips are necessary to survive. And I don’t play that game of “you have a nose piercing, I don’t approve of that, so no tip for you,” nobody needs that kind of passive-aggressiveness.
But dang it … all I wanted was some freakin’ chicken wings. I didn’t want a shell game as to where my change went.
And as I said … I may be a good tipper, I really am … but you think I’m giving a 26% tip on an order of chicken wings to go?
Yeah … no.