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CSotD: Lemme Give You A Tip

We’re avoiding politics today, but that doesn’t mean unbridled frivolity. Betty (AMS) brings up a thorny question, which is how to be fair to workers without encouraging predatory management?

Before we were bullied by card readers, hopeful counter help put out tip jars. You still see those, but now that nobody carries cash anymore, there’s little change to put in.

And there shouldn’t have to be.

The first time I encountered one of these tip-option card readers, I was about to schlep two bowls of chowder to a table myself because the place didn’t have waiters. I had a lot of trouble erasing from my mind the idea that a tip is a reward for service, of which putting two bowls on the counter didn’t seem like much.

Ditto, here, with bagging a donut, and moreso, since, at the grocery store bakery, I bag my own.

Which gets into that holier-than-thou issue of people who routinely use ATMs instead of tellers and pump their own gas instead of having a mechanic do it for them, but then pee their pants over the more recent option of scanning their own groceries.

“Then why don’t my groceries cost less?” I dunno. Why did banks stop paying interest? Why isn’t gas still 33 cents a gallon? Who put the bomp in the bompabompabomp?

 

They’ve long since caved in to automation, as did their parents, since there was a time when you didn’t take things off the shelf because a shop girl was employed to do that for you. There’s a fascinating consumer/labor history behind that, but f’sure nobody ever tipped them.

Voluntarily paying more should be a personal interchange between the customer and a particularly helpful, attentive waiter, cab driver, red cap or whoever.

The moral issue is that, if I start tipping your counter help, am I simply allowing you to rip them off with lousy wages? The answer is yes, but they have rent to pay, plus, if they were paid a living wage, how much more would that donut cost?

It is a puzzlement.

I mentioned “red caps” earlier, and I suppose a lot of people don’t remember when someone would take your bags when you arrived at the train station or airport, and Kate Isenberg notes what a damn lousy job some people do of hauling their own.

Having traveled to conferences, I know the necessity of clinging to the essentials on the way there, but, even so, you can check your bags on the way home because then it no longer matters if they go walkabout.

So even Big Important People traveling on Big Important Business only need to be pains-in-the-aisle half the time, and please don’t tell me that the people lugging their sense of entitlement onto the plane and struggling to fit it into the overhead bin are all carrying handouts for a Very Important Convention Address.

Meanwhile, I don’t know if airlines still send lost baggage to your house by cab because they don’t lose it nearly so often as they used to, but, if so, yes, you tip the driver.

 

The Playboy Advisor aspect of all that, BTW, was that it is gauche to visibly tip, and a cool guy should slip someone a reasonably sized bill discreetly. The distaff side is that cool girls notice but appreciate it with similar discretion.

I’m so old I remember elegance. And when martinis were gin by default.

 

Fi and Dethany address the changing world of business in On the Fastrack (KFS), and I’ve seen one of those “If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home” billboards fairly recently, on the highway from Peebiddy, Mass., to the North Shore.

I spent my last decade in the workforce about 2,000 miles from the office. Twice a year, I’d get a haircut, buy some new clothes and fly out to Colorado, so going into the office felt like a vacation.

 

Except that, as seen in this Prickly City (AMS), the vacation spot I’d left in 1987 was long gone by the time I signed on with the Denver Post twenty years later. In fact, when I left, Californians had just started moving in, happily paying California prices that skyrocketed local housing costs, and just as cheerfully enduring commutes that nobody in the Rockies would have tolerated, which encouraged sprawl.

Going back was a Rip Van Winkle experience, because, in my absence, they had filled in all the empty places between Boulder and Colorado Springs, and, like Carmen and Winslow, those empty places were the parts I loved the most.

I kinda wish I’d just kept working at home and had never seen it.

 

And, by the way, Daddy’s Home (Creators) brings up one of the truly wonderful things about living on the Front Range, which was that when someone who had mistaken you for Magellan gave you a compass point instead of a useful direction, you were always in sight of the Rockies, which provided orientation.

Or, I guess, occidentation.

Others have spoken of living by the ocean or one of the Great Lakes, but those don’t stick up eight thousand feet above the surrounding landscape, or, at least, you’d better hope they don’t.

In Colorado, by the time you’re out of sight of the mountains, you’re halfway to Kansas and hopelessly lost anyway.

 

Wallace the Brave (AMS) reminds me of my own time playing right field like Spud. As noted in the song, right field was, for a long time, my spot.

My problem was lack of depth perception, which meant I knew when the ball was coming but not precisely where, so admonitions to choke up on the bat were the opposite of what I needed. Once I held it at the knob like my hero, Norm Cash, my odds of finding the ball increased proportionately with bat length and I started hitting regularly if not well.

I also moved to third base, putting my glove hand in fair territory while the shortstop snagged what I couldn’t reach.

In keeping with today’s theme, here’s a tip: Lee Judge is a cartoonist who knows how baseball works, or ought to, and is even funnier when it doesn’t.

 

Lee explains it here for all the little Wallaces and Spuds. 

Community Comments

#1 Nelson Dewey
April/29/2022
@ 8:16 am

Speaking of How Baseball Works…

Can you find a cartoonist who draws someone throwing a ball — or a golfer hitting a ball — that DOESN’T show the ball coming from the center of the arc instead of the top or bottom (as happens in real-life physics)?

I vaguely remember seeing it drawn “correctly” maybe once.

Or is it just an inside joke that I missed in my Famous Artists Cartoon Correspondence course?

#2 Andréa Denninger
April/29/2022
@ 8:18 am

After living on or near the shore of Lake Michigan for over 60 years, we moved to Florida. Which has two bodies of water, plus a lake nearby, so I’ve no idea where I am anymore. But then, I don’t really need to know, so I don’t try to hard to orient myself.

It also helped to know that in our city, built mostly on a grid pattern, the avenues ran north/south and the streets ran east/west (if you were going east, those streets ended in Lake Michigan). We never needed GPS, even after it was available. Now, I wouldn’t travel without it.

#3 Bill Harris
April/29/2022
@ 8:32 am

Thanks for the link to the Lee Judge article. As an old school basebal fan, I found his anaylsis both hilarious and on point.

I also really enjoy Will Henry’s cartooning skills and the throw away sound effect “Grass Stain”really made my morning.

#4 Brian Fies
April/29/2022
@ 8:40 am

I carry my own bag onto airplanes ’cause I just don’t trust the bastards. However, I do try to be considerate and efficient about it. Any trip less than four days I can fit into a pudgy backpack that, if need be, can actually fit under the seat in front of me. Still, I’m currently traveling and saw plenty of small weak people wrestling 70-lb steamer trunks into overhead bins, so good cartoon.

Here on the West Coast, a very common direction that we give visitors is “Drive until you hit water and turn left.” Or right, depending. It’s hard to go wrong without getting your floorboards wet.

Inveterate right fielder here. I knew my place: ankle deep in unmowed clover. I had an epiphany about my childhood baseball career just a few years ago. In my memory, I’d been a uniquely terrible 8-year-old, partly because nobody ever explained the rules of the game to me. I didn’t know you could be called Out without swinging the bat, and didn’t understand why you couldn’t have two players standing on one base. But one day I happened to catch a couple of Little League teams and had my realization: EVERYBODY is terrible at 8. Almost everyone–there might’ve been a future Golden Glover out there, but everyone else was running the wrong way and watching the ball dribble between their feet. I walked away feeling something old and deep heal inside.

#5 Mark Jackson
April/29/2022
@ 9:07 am

@ Andréa Denninger:

Ah, Chicago: where east is entirely south of North.

#6 Bob Crittenden
April/29/2022
@ 1:05 pm

Bill – I subscribed to Lee Judge a month or two ago. He’s done several baseball columns since opening day, and they all have been informative and funny. His non-baseball ones are very good too. You might want to search out some of his past ones.

#7 Denny Lien
April/29/2022
@ 3:14 pm

I don’t scan my own groceries because (as I understand it) if I were to do so I’d have to pay with a credit card (rather than my vastly preferred methods of check or cash). Have I been wrong in this assumption for all these years, or are you equally contemptous of people who dislike and minimize their use of credit/debit cards?

As for not pumping my own gas, I’d probably use that option now and then (and cheerfully pay a bit more for it) if it were in fact an option these days anywhere other than Oregon and a few other jurisdictions.

#8 Solon Wines Manney
April/29/2022
@ 5:04 pm

Never thought of occidentation… for Southpaws. Could make some political jokes, but will refrain.

Virginia Beach/Tidewater area features streets laid at odd angles, interrupted by various randomly scattered bodies of water. Found it quite confusing.

Grew up playing soccer, and as the least competent, was told off to stay out of the way as goalie.

#9 Mark B
April/29/2022
@ 5:13 pm

1. Thank you for the Lee Judge link. I’ve subscribed.

2. That Twins/Tigers play was the most f’d up play I’ve seen in a long time. Embarrasing.

#10 Lou Wysocki
April/29/2022
@ 5:32 pm

My theory on driving somewhere I’m not familiar with is that eventually, no matter which way you go, you will eventually hit water.

#11 Mary McNeil
April/29/2022
@ 7:10 pm

Dining alone in a big-box buffet I noted a card on the table that said they were hiring, Now, in this restaurant you walked up, grabbed a plate, served yourself, got your own utensils and drink and went back to your table, so the employees were kitchen staff and those who cleared the tables and cashiered. The starting salary was $2.87.That was when I realized that – yeh – you should leave a tip at a buffet. So even when they just hand over my bagel and I get my own coffee, I leave a tip,In fact (and I believe this was at Mike’s suggestion) I tip an extra buck when I go through the Burger King drive-through,

#12 mark allen johnson
April/29/2022
@ 8:38 pm

For Andrea
Sounds like Kenosha Wi?

#13 Mike Peterson
April/30/2022
@ 4:01 am

Denny, one of our groceries just changed half their self-checks to card-only, but they’re all in one spot and I think it was a mechanical or software issue. I’ve never found it to be the case anywhere else, but I’ve only used self-checks here in New England, Colorado and New York, so YMMV.

As it may in the choice anyway. I like the instant reconciliation of debit cards, both for budget-tracking and to avoid ever having to balance a checkbook and try to remember what is still lurking out there.

But, no, other than those three checkstands, I’ve never found a self-check that didn’t accept cash.

New Jersey is the only state that doesn’t permit self-service at gas stations. I hope that means they maintain service bays instead of converting to snack shops, since the “pump jockeys” I knew years ago were also qualified mechanics. If you blow a water pump on a weekend these days, you’d better be in a town you like, because you’ll be there until Tuesday.

#14 Ignatz
April/30/2022
@ 6:42 am

I always carry cash, and use it for anything under 10 dollars. And the stores prefer it. Some people don’t realize that the store is charged when you use the card. There are also still a few “cash only” places here – local pizza places and things like that.

I started tipping even when there was no table service when the pandemic hit, because the stores were really in danger of all shutting down, and I don’t want them to shut down.

And the fact that prices don’t go down when — thanks to automation — there are drastically fewer employees makes it ludicrous when the same companies claim that decent wages will make prices go up. Decent wages MIGHT place their expenses about where they were before they laid everybody off without reducing prices.

You now go into a 30,000 sq ft store, and they appear to have 3 employees. All making minimum wage. And some people actually believe that if you give that company a tax cut, they’ll use it to hire people.

#15 Andréa Denninger
April/30/2022
@ 8:51 am

@mark allen johnson: You betcha! The city now notorious for the Kyle Rittenhouse murders . . . I mean, the ‘self-defense’ killings. Which happened within a few feet of where I worked for 30 years. I guess I chose a good time to be retired and moved out of the city, eh?

#16 Mike Peterson
April/30/2022
@ 9:54 am

Ignatz, I buy my gas from a place that offers a 10 cent a gallon discount if you use their card, which takes it directly from your banking account rather then routing through Mastercard or Visa. (I have two such cards but rarely use the other.)

When I lived in Colorado in the mid-eighties, they passed a law to keep stores from charging more for people using debit cards, but I don’t know how far that trend spread, and today you’re more apt to see a discount for cash, which is the same thing reversed.

I think things have changed enough over the past several decades that pricing assumes the processing fee, so you’re effectively “tipping” by paying cash. Which is your choice, of course.

#17 Denny Lien
April/30/2022
@ 3:01 pm

Can’t remember the last time I saw any sort of store here give a discount for cash — the last one I’m sure about was a gas station in northern Minnesota some twenty-five years ago, and I’d go out of my way to patronize them when I was up that way, but I no longer have any occasion to go up that way. (And even for me, a couple of hundred miles is taking “go out of my way” a bit too far.)

All arguments of practicality and economics aside, I’m afraid I’ve simply grown up with an unshakable belief that credit cards and other “Buy Now, Pay Latter” schemes are, like the designated hitter rule in baseball, basically Evil and probably signs of the End Times and, as with the designated hitter atrocity, I don’t think I can be argued out of it, short of a lobotomy.

(Yes, I know that using checks is a form of “pay later,” but generally only a *little* bit later.) And of course I make an exception for gigantic purchases, like buying a house on a mortgage.)

#18 Denny Lien
April/30/2022
@ 3:04 pm

Oh, and relevant to the tipping question, I stopped for groceries on my way home tonight and the store was having some sort of youth service organization volunteering to bag your purchases for you. I prefer to bag my own, and told the kid so, but then tipped a dollar anyway “for the offer.”

#19 Mike Peterson
May/1/2022
@ 4:21 am

Use of a debit card is all-but-instantaneous. I stop at the grocery store on the way back from the dog park and the charge is on my bank account by the time I’m home a few minutes later, regardless of which store I went to.

The laundromat takes a day or two. Dunno why, but the charges are low enough to be, from a budgeting standpoint, inconsequential.

FWIW, on the way home from the dog park, I pass two gas stations with five cent a gallon for cash discounts. I prefer the 10 cent a gallon discount at the three with instant debiting loyalty cards.

#20 Alexis Morganza
May/4/2022
@ 10:09 am

Reminds me of the European navigation trick for unfamiliar cities: “The river is downhill.”

#21 Guy rando
May/4/2022
@ 9:35 pm

Paying 20 an hour In every case, the increase cost passed to the consumer would be less then the tip. And aw long as we tip, sever will make less money, and depend on a random people to service.

Tipping is terrible and harmful to society.

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