Counter Insurgence

May 24, 2011 1:03 pm

The creeping ubiquity of tip jars. And a cocktail.

Portrait of Dan Dunn
Dan Dunn, the Imbiber
 

On a recent Saturday afternoon after getting my pump on at the gym (and a vigorous pump it was, I should add) I dropped by the little cafeteria next door for some post-workout nourishment. I ordered the usual: an energy drink and some kind of organic fat-free deglutenized muffin-like substance. The way I see it, all the unpronounceable chemicals in the energy drink balance out all the hippie farts in the “muffin.” And in my line of work balance is important.

My total cost for these items? Four American dollars.

I handed the Avril Lavigne look-alike behind the counter a 10-spot and waited for change. I should stress that said countergirl looked like Avril Lavigne before she traded in her parentally acceptable commodified-dissent faux-punk fashion sense for the equally contrived yet far more off-putting junkie virago image she has today. But I digress.

Li’l Lavigne yawned as she handed over six bucks change. I put a dollar into the tip jar, figuring she could put it towards more eyeliner or another tattoo. She watched impassively as I did this, then looked right at me and said… nothing. I lingered a few extra seconds thinking perhaps the signal that was carrying the words “thank” and “you” got waylaid somewhere in the wasteland that lies between a teenager’s brain and her mouth.

But no. Nothing.

Apparently being given a 25-percent gratuity for performing a task that a rhesus monkey is overqualified for didn’t quite exceed Avril Jr.’s gratitude threshold. Clearly she couldn’t be bothered with something as prosaic as common courtesy. Not when she’d gotten so far in life on scowls and eye-rolling.

Now this is not to even broach the general subject of the creeping ubiquity of tip jars in venues that have always been non-tipping consumer environments. The only plausible explanation I can come up with for this is that the word TIPS slapped on a jar on a counter is nothing more than an acronymic fuck you from the cheapskate owner.

Thanks, suckers, because

I’d rather not

Pay these moronic little

Shits a living wage myself

Not to mention that it’s an affront to those that work traditionally tipped jobs. You remember, them, right? The waitresses, the delivery guys, the bartenders? The tireless folk who hustle for that dollar because they know money ain’t free and that a simple smile combined with competence and speed is a tonic to the soul. Mark my words, the day will come when meter maids hand out parking tickets and expect tips in return. And they’ll get them, too, because an awful lot of people truly are just that fucking stupid.

But not me. I have a new solution. Tried it out on Miss Sk8er Boi too. Felt great.

Starting today I’m invoking the 5-second rule: If, after depositing a bill into a bullshit shouldn’t-even-be-there tip jar, five seconds elapse without an expression of gratitude being offered, it is no longer their property. It is un-given. Mine again. I remove it from the jar and put it in my wallet where it rightfully belongs. You violate the social contract, I violate the social contract. We’re even; thanks for the dance. Should the offending counter-worker protest, I simply inform them that I am the ghost of manners past. (I will also find a new place to get coffee, as I’m not a big fan of loogey-flavored lattes).

Umbrage will be taken, but this is OK. My umbrage is always spoiling for a scrap, and it’s good to let it off the leash once in a while. I have the feeling the next few weeks are going to be highly entertaining on that front. In any case, here’s the drink this particular little incident drove me to. Because after a workout, a muffin, an energy drink and an encounter with everything that’s wrong with today’s service industry, a man needs a decent cocktail.

GINGER & SPICE COCKTAIL RECIPE

2 oz Domaine de Canton

½ oz fresh lemon juice

4 mint sprigs and 2 dashes of bitters

Combine ingredients in an ice-filled rocks glass. Stir. Enjoy.

Dan Dunn’s best-selling book Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour is available wherever books are sold. Follow Dan on Twitter and Facebook, and hear him on The Imbiber Show podcast.

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