2018-07-11 / Opinions & Letters

In sync

Midwest Memo
by Alan Shultz

There’s a not too recent phenomena in my eating orbit which I just simply cannot figure out. It has to do with my money and how much I should/must part with for the occasional oatmeal cookie, brownie, lemon drop or iced tea which I much too frequently purchase.

For the most part, the individual price for each one of these items is clearly marked on the sign board on the back wall or on a small handprinted card sticking near, or to, the sweet, delicious object. That is the posted cost of that which I am purchasing.

I’m used to knowing what the add-ons are to the cost of a cookie. The sales tax is a given. If I’m in Indiana - the sack for the cookie is free. If I’m in Chicago, the sack is referred to as a bag and that will cost me an extra seven cents.

But the final ad-on is taken outside, but adjacent, to the cash register. There, more often than not, is a tip cup, usually a clear plastic cup which shows off the inside contents - cash money.

I often eat lunch at a cafeteria style restaurant. You get your own tray, plate and utensils. You fill your own plate, pour your own water. At the checkout, the cashier weighs your purchase, renders a bill and collects. And there, at the moment of payment, I am also silently asked if I’d like to tip the cashier.


The younger generations seem very comfortable with this tipping the cashier funny business. In contrast, I look like, live up to be, a skinflint compared to consumers half my age.

I don’t get tipping the person who takes my money. And knowing the hourly rate of my local barrista, I don’t even understand tipping for being handed the high-priced cup of coffee with the top that’s not quite latched down tight.

Watch it!

The other day I was in line at the corner store behind a twentysomething guy wearing a doorman uniform. Let’s call this guy the “kid” and also let’s establish that the kid makes an hourly wage plus tips - but not a lot of money.

The kid got a coffee - I think it was like $4 - a lot for coffee. And then, in addition to the $4 he put three singles in the tip cup. Trust me, I counted. He did this when the lady who poured him his coffee had her back turned to him. He didn’t even require credit of those three smackers!

On the other hand, when I stepped up for my turn, I knew the price tag plus tax on that oatmeal raisin cookie that was calling me. I had two singles, two quarters, a dime and a nickel clenched in my nontipping grubby little hands. I handed it over, cash for cookie, but the price of the cookie was all I parted with.

Call me many things, but please include efficient on the list.

I’m a good tipper at restaurants. I think I’m in sync with that concept of compensation. And I think the cabbies have it hard with these free-lance ride sharing guys. So I tip big to taxies. My biggest tip is to the shoeshine guys - provided they don’t lecture me on how badly I treat my shoes. If they stay away from guilting me, I am so grateful to the shoeshine guys that I go big.

But for the person who just takes my money, or hands me a paper cup filled with coffee, well I’m just not seeing that experience crossing the threshold of needing a tip.

Don’t they get paid to do that?

Meanwhile, I’m going to pay more attention to see if those youngsters that tip get better treatment at the cookie counter than me. I mean if a tip earns you the bigger lemon drop in the back row - well then that’s really a bribe - and….. that, I understand. For the best lemon drop cookie in the case, I can get in syn with a little extra cash outside the register.

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