A Wolfpacker's Perspective

THE WORLD IS OFFICIALLY IN CRISIS MODE. No, not because of the war in Iraq or because transsexuals have been cleared to compete in the Olympics or even because two more "Van Helsing" movies have been greenlighted. No, the world is in crisis because of something far greater and more sinister…the tip jar.

Last night I went to Baskin-Robbins to get a double scoop of Puss N' Boots chocolate mousse ice cream. The kid put my ice cream in a cup, I paid the ransom required and I turned to leave. So far, so good. That's when the kid cleared his throat and shot me a look. I turned back to him wondering what part of this simple exchange had gone awry and he ever so subtly motioned towards the counter. And there it was. Staring right at me like an abandoned child was…the tip jar.

There was no question what I was going to do next. I nodded at the kid so that he knew that I knew what was up. I then turned and walked right out the door. I am not tipping the 31 Flavors guy. I don't tip my dealer, I don't tip my bookie, I am not about to tip this tool.**

Now I can't go back to my neighborhood Baskin-Robbins. This kid was already sticking pins in a voodoo doll with my name on it before I got to my car. And I won't leave a tip at the next store, either. So now I'm destined to a life of 31 Flavors hoping until the day comes that I have to persuade someone to go in and buy my ice cream for me. Ah, the life of an outlaw. But why? How did it come to this?

Having been a waiter/bartender in college and beyond, I am an authority on tipping. I know who to tip, how much to tip and I always overtip (under the right circumstances). For example, my girlfriend and I get into an argument every time we order a pizza. She tips the guy 20%. I tip 10. The reason being is that all he did was put our pizza in his car, put in a Blink 182 cd and deliver said pizza to our door. He didn't slice the pizza, he didn't ask if everything was alright, he didn't even clean the mess. He was just the middleman. A pizza patsy. That doesn't warrant the same tip that a good waiter or bartender deserves. However, when we go to a restaurant or bar I usually leave 25-30%, depending on the service. Anyhoo, my experience at 31 Flavors got me to thinking.

My friend, Schlerf, and I were talking about this and he had an interesting take, he blames the whole thing on Starbucks. Before Starbucks came along, the tip jar was strictly for beggars and sidewalk performers. But Starbucks changed everything by legitimizing the tip jar. It was such a wonderful, shrewd, insidious move. Rat-bastards.

See, here's the thing about a tip jar. It's not mandatory, it's almost a donation. But it's not a donation because it says "tip" not "donation." There's a big difference. You don't tip the Salvation Army. And the worst part of the tip jar is that it works in the negative. By that I mean, if you leave a great tip, nobody knows. It's not like someone says, "thank you, Mr. Brewster, for that dollar tip on your overpriced $3.50 crappacino." They just go about their business. But try walking by the tip jar without putting anything in it and the sound suddenly becomes deafening. You can feel the burning looks of the greencaps searing into your soul. Fortunately, I lost my soul in a game of Uno back in the third grade so this doesn't affect me.

I noticed at my gym that the juice bar now has a tip jar, as does the tanning salon (so I hear, it's not like I, um, go to a tanning salon). Where does the madness end? I would actually feel better tipping my proctologist than my juice guy. Who knows, maybe an extra fiver will buy me a clean bill of health (wink, wink). Or if I tip my mechanic maybe all the bolts will really be tightened this time and all the hoses secured. Tipping them makes more sense to me than tipping the gym guy for grabbing a $3.00 red bull out of the fridge and handing it to me.

After careful deliberation and hours of meditation (I've found that meditating to Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" really helps to open my mind), my new rule is that if I don't hand the person a tip, that person doesn't get one. The only tip I would leave in a jar would be a note that says, "don't eat the yellow snow." This may offend some but I am willing to sacrifice my standing at Starbucks and 31 Flavors for this cause. I am but one man, however a movement must start somewhere. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy a venti café mocha and I am bringing precisely $3.95 with me.

Stay safe and stay tuned…

**this is a joke. I, nor statefans.com, condone or endorse the use of dealers or bookies. Except for car dealers. We endorse those. And software dealers. We endorse those, too. And I guess we endorse Maytag and other large appliance dealers. They're pretty righteous. Now that I think about it, stockbrokers are kind of like dealers in their own way and my friend, Tim Barnes is a stockbroker, so we might as well endorse them, too. Anyway, that's all that we endorse…and don't endorse. Sigh. Nevermind.


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