-Consider this Social Qs dilemma:
When picking up takeout food at a restaurant, and being presented with the credit card bill, I leave the tip field blank, on the theory that no service was provided. Am I correct, or should I consider a minimal offering?
Jon, Montclair, N.J.
You are correct, but why not consider a teensy tip anyway? Restaurant folk work hard for the money, as Donna Summer crooned. True, no one’s ferried your plate back and forth to the kitchen, or whisked away your crumbs. Still, someone had to package your food and get it ready in time. So maybe a buck or two is in order, if you like the joint and feel like being sweet.This is a new one. Isn't the reason you tip in a restaurant not that restaurant work is hard (it is, but so are thousands of other jobs that don't get tips; the adage about how everyone ought to work in food service so as not to be bratty as a patron refers to people who had it easy their whole lives, not to retail or factory workers on a night out), but that restaurant workers get paid below minimum wage, with the expectation of tips, making it so that bad service, unless criminally so, gets 15%? If the person packaging your food is not in that category, why tip that individual (or, for all we know, the owner of the restaurant - why do we even think the tip goes to the food-packager?) and not your cashier at the supermarket, or the factory staff behind your frozen dinner?
If Jon has a guilty conscience and money to spare, so be it, I'm sure whoever receives the $2 won't complain. But the issue more seems to be that this is an ambiguous norm. I'm frequently in groups in which I'm the only American, and am constantly getting asked about how one is supposed to tip. And I'm forced to explain that I, a native of both this country and this region, have no idea. Restaurants between 15% and 20%, drinks at a bar get a dollar each, unless it's one of those $20-cocktail establishments, where evidently you're meant to tip as you would at a restaurant, but I don't know what actually goes on. I don't know why the fish shop in Chelsea Market has a tip jar, or what's supposed to justify tip jars in coffee places without seating, or in places whose "decor" consists primarily of signs admonishing you to bus your own table.
But the takeout tip seems especially odd. Isn't tipping in a restaurant part of the theater of a night out, a tradition that's as much about an exchange of funds between customer and server as a show being put on for the other patrons? Isn't that what allowed for the new trend of people tipping a dollar or more bills in coffee shops, places where the staff are paid at least minimum wage, and where the drinks themselves are priced such that these are nearly 100% tips on each beverage? Tipping on delivery, especially in places where someone likely biked through horrendous traffic if not weather to get you your food, and where there's an expectation of tips, makes perfect sense. But I'd always assumed that the tip option at pick-up was because there's just one receipt form restaurants use, whether for takeout or restaurant service, and they have no particular incentive to remove the option. Whatever the case, I'll just add this to the list of reasons I prefer to cook at home.
-Yet another entry into the genre of parents (mothers) airing their kids' (sons') dirty laundry on the Internet. My own guess here is that the kid isn't reading because his reading is something observed and celebrated by his mother. Both of those elements make reading undesirable. The latter, obviously, because many (most?) kids don't want to do as they're told; if mom was anti-reading, this kid would probably be further along in the Rougon-Macquart cycle than I am. The former because the very point of reading-as-escapism is escapism. If mom is breathing down the kid's neck, reading over his shoulder, experiencing every sentence alongside him, even if her goal isn't to censor his literary consumption, his own imagination is less fraught. Or maybe the kid is simply growing up in the age of the Daily Mail Online, or maybe he likes staring at a wall.