Hello, Mostly Toasty. First time, long time:
I was considering recently that as automatic electronic payments on smartphones, ipads etc. become more prevalent, and paper money and coins slowly go the way of the dodo, how the tipping habits of customers in establishments where gratuities aren’t necessarily standard will be affected. For instance, it’s not commonplace to tip in places like pizza joints, Subways, delis, etc. If you’re paying for a slice or a juice box on a credit card, I’d venture to say that it almost never happens. But what is commonplace in these establishments is for cash paying customers to drop their change into the TIP JAR, if for no other reason than because they don’t want change they will most likely lose jangling around in their pockets. But it’s also a nice gesture – instead of feeding them to your living room sofa, why not give these soon-to-be-lost coins to some poor immigrant working on minimum wage who just provided you with a needed service?
Furthermore, doing so combats a sort of arbitrary imbalance in the world of quotidian tipping. If you’re supposed to tip a bartender for opening a bottle top for you, it seems slightly unfair to me that the sandwich maker assembling your sub at Subway doesn’t deserve a gratuity for their services. I’m compelled to draw this even further and submit that my enjoyment of a Subway sandwich is more dependent upon a capable employee, than my enjoyment of a beer or a whiskey is determined by a proficient barkeep. A skillful oil-and-vinegar-ing of my tuna on honey-wheat footlong determines the product quality much more so than does the way in which a bartender twists off my Miller Lite cap. I can, however, appreciate that if you’re an Old Fashioned or martini drinker, the way in which these drinks are prepared is at the crux of your ability to enjoy the beverage. Breaking it down to a more micro-economic level, the tip (and the implicit understanding that the customer can over, under or even not tip depending on the quality of service) is designed to ensure high quality products and services at bars and other establishments. Customers will continue to patronize these high quality establishments, which enable them to stay in business and pay their employees, who – in turn – continue to make proper Old Fashioneds and martinis during work hours and pump money back into their local economy during their free time. And so we carry on and avoid turning into the Soviet Union and everyone is happy and so on and so forth.
Now I’m not a Subway menu adventurer, but I’d imagine that if I were to order, say, the new BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich a proper layering, heating, and application of the bbq sauce would greatly determine the outcome of the sandwich. As much as a tyro bartender can fuck up a martini?–I don’t know. But while they are still around, let’s continue to drop those unwanted 7 cents into the tip jar.
PS i also wonder how a decrease in the use of change and the near extinction of payphones will affect homeless persons revenue from pulling stuck and loose quarters out of city payphone deposit slots.