What’s up with the TIP jars everywhere?!

Tip jars in the wild

Everyone knows, well everyone but the folks that live in Italy, that you are supposed to tip your server in a restaurant. The term Tips means “to insure proper service” and in the United States the tip makes up the majority of what the server is actually paid. The standard wage for waitstaff here is $5.09 per hour. In some places in Europe the waitstaff is paid the same as everyone else, and sometimes better than most minimum wage earners here in the USA. This is all common knowledge.

What has also become common here is something called “the TIP jar” and these jars are popping up everywhere. I see them in places where to me it doesn’t even make sense to have one, like in the chain sandwich store Subway.

What exactly am I tipping here for?  

The guy behind the counter is being paid a regular wage to make my sandwich. He’s going to ring me up, maybe hand me a cup for a drink that I am getting myself. He’s not going to be asking me if I need a refill of my drink. If I want more drink I have to get up and get it myself. He doesn’t even have to clean my table of garbage because I’ll be doing that on the way out the door.

So what am tipping him for? I couldn’t figure it out so I didn’t put anything in the Tip Jar and now I feel guilty.

Tip Jars are everywhere! There are idea boards and articles about how to make the best Tip Jars in order to make customers want to stuff some money in them. There are Tip Jars you can buy now too. Amazon sells one! There are articles written on the etiquette of putting your change in the Tip Jar and Do’s and Don’ts and Maybes for having a Tip Jar and contributing to the Tip Jar.

The Tip Jar has become a cultural phenomenon.

So what do we know about the Tip Jar?

Times are hard and every little bit counts these days. If employees at these establishments do not feel like they are making the amount of money they need in order to pay their bills then a Tip Jar is a great solution.

I’m of the mind that if your staff thinks a Tip Jar next to the register, in a place of business where there actually is NOT table service or delivery of any kind, is a good idea then perhaps management should rethink what they are paying their staff. I can tell you this; it’s probably not enough.

Are you required to put your change in the Tip Jar? Absolutely not!

Will you feel guilty and will the person ringing your purchase silently record your face as a stingy miser? Possibly.

Here’s the deal; tip if you feel like they’re doing a little something extra for you behind the counter like adding whipped cream or slicing your sandwich just the way you like it, but do not tip just because you feel like you have to or because people behind you in line are watching you.

Odds are the people behind you in line aren’t watching you at all and are probably on their phone, but how much do you want to bet they’re dreading that Tip Jar as much as you are? How much are they hoping you’ll set the precedent by not dropping your hard-earned change into a jar that has nothing to do with your food that day?

If you’re already paying for the cost of a sandwich you’re standing at the counter waiting on then you have paid whatever that establishment’s proprietors have decided it cost to make it and that supersedes the Tip Jar every single time. If the Tip Jar stops being lucrative perhaps the staff will  go straight to the source and let management know they are worth more than they are being paid by the hour and require a wage that is actually conducive to living, rather than just existing.

I don’t know. I’m simply spit-balling here on a subject that has caused me minor anxiety each time I have encountered the Tip Jar at the register and I have tried to overcome the guilt of it several different ways.

  • I have thrown all of my change in, including dollar bills if that’s what it was. I experienced Tipping Remorse doing this!
  • I tried just throwing in my loose change but the clanging sound it makes is just too loud and makes me feel like I’ve just thrown pennies in there instead of quarters or silver dollars even.
  • I have picked through my change and only thrown in the bigger denomination of coins.
  • I have also pretended I didn’t see the Tip Jar. This by far is the best choice if you’re working on your guilt quota that day.

I’m not sure why the Tip Jar has become a regular thing in just about every restaurant these days, but it’s a conundrum I don’t have a solution for.

What do you think?


About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What’s up with the TIP jars everywhere?!

  1. I agree with your comment that servers should be paid more. I used to live in Europe and I grew to like the fact that servers are paid properly (usually much more than minimum – this can be career choice) and customers don’t need to be concerned about tipping.

    Good post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lynette 🙂 While I am still not totally on board with the Tip Jars I do realize that in some cases they do make a huge difference. I agree and I think we need to totally do away with the whole server’s wage and just pay them better.

      Liked by 1 person

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