Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tipping . . . Or Not

I am not a fan of this latest trend - stores with tip jars by the cash registers. These jars are popping up everyplace the Gen-Y'ers are working - coffee shops, music stores, even some clothing stores. It is so indicative of this generation to be asking for more without actually working for it.

I tip people in the service industry who hustle for my benefit: mostly food servers and bartenders; people who are juggling more than one customer at a time and have to deal with everyone's crap at the same time. I am not about to tip someone who's job it is to work within a 6'x6' space barking my coffee order to someone standing 8 feet away. Or the person working behind the counter at the take-out place where I have to go and pick up my own food. Or the salesperson who rings up the three tee shirts I buy in her store after standing in line for 15 minutes waiting for her to stop staring at a break sheet on a clipboard as if she is figuring out thermodynamic speed ratio equations. These deserve a tip??

If customer service were truly good in the U.S., I would be happy to reward it with a little extra cash. I've lost count of the number of times I have given a snotty "you're welcome" without even receiving the "thank you" first. There's a cashier at my CVS who doesn't speak to anyone - no "next please", no "your total is...", and certainly no "thank you". He points at things alot and bats his eyes as if he's in a coma. He's not mute, he just doesn't care. I'm not even thanked in another language, which would be preferable to just being stared at, as if I am supposed to be thanking him for the privilege of his service.

I am not sure when it happened that customers ceased being the reaon for your work and became the interruption of your work. If you can call it "work". I've had to interrupt employee conversations, both on cell phones and in person to ask for assistance (one of my biggest pet peeves is two employees complaining about their job while at work, bitching about other employees or their managers in front of me.)

If every clerk was like Maureen at Walgreen's at Belmont and Broadway, I'd be tossing out tips right and left (The BF is totally charmed by her). She's funny, helpful, and she seems to enjoy what she does. She might be a little slower due to her high social skills, but she makes the experience of waiting in line tolerable, albeit enjoyable. If Maureen had a tip jar, I would fill that sucker.

But she doesn't, because she knows it's inappropriate. But then Maureen is probably in her late 40's. She's not mad at the world for no damn reason, and she's not suggesting that she gets tipped for doing a job she's getting paid to do in the first place. If those other clerks would put as much energy into their work performance as they put into making the signs for their tips jars, customer service may finally return.