Ok, I've never turned to my readers before, but this time I need help. I'm a bad tipper, and by bad I don't mean cheap. I mean bad. As in idiotic. Allow me to explain.
There is this Mexican restaurant close to where I live, and they have salsa that is out of this world. I don't mean good. I don't mean great. I don't mean mind blowing. I mean life changing. If you know what is good for you, you won't accept the dish they bring your table, you'll ask for a your own private bowl. You will want to drink this stuff by the end of the night.
For 4 bucks, you can get a huge bag of chips, and a nice big Styrofoam cup of their salsa to go. You walk in, pay the money, and walk out with your food. Sounds simple, right?
You forget that I'm a bad tipper.
The first time I got the salsa the waitress told me the total was 4.22. I was counting out the change when it suddenly hit me. Were you supposed to tip on a take out? I almost never get takeout, so I didn't know. I panicked. Was it 15 percent? Was it more? Less? Not at all? Everybody was watching me. I buckled under the pressure. I started whimpering, counted out the change, and ran for the door. I was an idiot and couldn't properly enjoy my chips because of the Homer I had just pulled. I vowed then and there that when I went back, I would know how to tip properly.
But of course I forgot, and one night had a serious craving for the salsa. I got in and ordered my salsa, and then wondered again what I should do. Could I just give her a five and tell her to keep the change? Tipping 73 cents seems so cheap, even though that is between 15 and 20 percent. But tipping with coins? Was that legal? Was that proper?
I gave her a five, and she brought back a 1 dollar bill for my change. She hadn't bothered counting out the change, and this was my perfect opportunity to tip with a bill. But again I panicked. What was I supposed to do, take the dollar, and then give it back to her? Or hold up my hand and say something dorky like, "Keep the change." The takeout window is right there in the middle of the waiting area, so I knew that all eyes were on me. In quiet defeat I took the dollar and left. I had just anti-tipped the waitress. She probably had to pay the 22 cents out of her own pocket.
So, last night I once more strode in the restaurant, determined to do what I always do when I feel like an idiot tipping - over tip. Since I just can't seem to tip people with style, I compensate by over tipping. After I leave a tipping opportunity, I'm sure the general consensus of the person getting tipped is, "Well, that guy was a bit of a moron, but at least he tips well". So if the service is bad, they get 20 percent. If it's normal, we're looking at 30. And if the staff has done a good job, we approach 40 percent territory. Part of it is the little socialist in me who pictures the owner of the establishment sitting at home with his family, while these poor college students are breaking their backs making him money. So if I have an opportunity to pay the person working, then I'll over it.
So, back to last night. I decided to just throw caution to the wind. I walked in, ordered my chips, and waited. The waitress went through the door, and 20 seconds later was back with my salsa and chips. She put the stuff down, and then approached me and informed me the total was 4.22 I gave her 6 dollars. That's a 40 percent tip, in an instance where I'm not even sure tipping is supposed to happen.
She smiled at me and said, "I'll get your change."
What to do now? Once again I looked like an idiot. She told me 4.22, and I had given her 6 dollars. All eyes were again on me, I'm sure. She walked away with my $6. I almost fled the room. The only thing keeping me there were my chips, just meters away (when I get nervous, I switch to the metric system in my mind).
The waitress got the to till, looked at the bills, turned back to me and asked, "Did you want change."
I shook my head in defeat. Once again I was walking out of the restaurant feeling like a moron. I have nothing left in my arsenal of 'trying not to feel like a geek' quiver. The only possibility is to send my son in to do my dirty work for me. Kids are by default cute. He could get his change, and then give the waitress a quarter, and everybody would think that's just darling.
So, I need help. I really like those chips. Anybody in the service industry know what the proper procedure is on tipping with takeout? The geek who writes this blog wants to know.