Walk over to the shelves. Pick up a bag of “The Bold Truth!” (it is!), belly up to the checkout counter, and fork over the Visa card.
The store uses a Square attached to an iPad to run your credit card. So she does this and then she shoves the tablet in my face and says, “How much do you want to leave for a tip?”
Choices are 15%, 20%, or 30%.
Are you kidding me? I walk into the shop; I walk across to the retail section; I search out, locate, and retrieve a pound of packaged French roast coffee; I carry it over to you and hand it across the counter along with a credit card; you pick up a device and stick my credit card in it. You haven’t moved two feet in this entire transaction!
Trying not to show (too extravagantly) how peeved this makes me, I say, “I should pay a 15% tip on a $15 bag of coffee? I don’t think so.”
Then of course I feel like a bitch. She emphasizes what wonderful coffee it is. I allow as how it’s probably the best coffee in town. But I’m not paying a tip on non-service. Or rather, on service that entails nothing more than collecting my money.
Ten percent of $15 is $1.50 [TYPO in the original post!! eeek…], bringing the total tab (not counting the aggravation cost) to almost $17 for enough coffee to last a week or, at the outside, maybe 10 days. At 20 percent — the amount I normally tip in restaurants, BTW — that bag of coffee would’ve cost me $18!
Well. The Little Guy (as SDXB and I call the proprietor) does sell great coffee. But I can buy a pound of perfectly fine espresso beans for $12 at AJ’s Highly Overpriced Grocery Store. Twelve ounces of Peet’s espresso will set you back $6.64 at Amazon, meaning that a pound — 16 ounces — would cost you $8.85.
It’s not really the $17 or $18 cost. The coffee is outstanding and undoubtedly worth that much. Even though I’m pinching pennies, I’m willing to pay for an indulgence that makes my life a little better. And morning coffee is a BFD around here. It’s one of the few small pleasures that make my solitary existence tolerable.
And I know that people who wait on counters don’t earn very much, and I know that if I were a decent human being, I would regard it as charity and pony up two or three bucks.
But…I also know that between the two of us, I’m the one who needs the charity. That lady earned noticeably more than I did today. Half my day was spent untangling an academic paper and reading the most brain-banging cant, cliché, and jargon disguised as academic writing…just gawdawful stuff.
At $4 a page, I earned $136 for that exercise in sado-masochism, which will be split 50/50 with my business partner: a net $68 for about eight hours of mildly annoying work (half of yesterday was occupied in preliminary work on the piece). It will be four to six months before we’re paid for the job we’re working on now.
If the coffee-house counter lady earns minimum wage (without tips) and hangs around the place for 8 hours, then she is paid $80 for the same number of hours, approximately, that I put in on the cant, cliché, and jargon. And she didn’t inflict any wear and tear on her own computer equipment to do it.
Think I could get away with asking my clients for a tip?
No. ‘Fraid not. About 90 percent of the time, when I quote our standard rate of about $4 a page to a prospective client, I never hear another word.
So, dear reader…
How do you feel about ponying up a tip to a counter clerk who does nothing more than take your money?
Image: Deposit Photos. © Shaiith79