Ok, PAX Pals, we need to have a little chat.
See, Monday, I went to brunch at a friend’s house, and had a chance to chat with someone who works in one of the coffee shops near the convention center.
You all are giving geeks a bad name.
You need to fucking well tip.
And yes, this is a big deal.
I understand that many of you have never worked a service industry job. In the Seattle area in the 80s, Nintendo started hiring high school kids at double the minimum wage to staff their gamehelp lines. And with the explosion of the tech industry, an awful lot of you went straight into tech instead of having to work in restaurants or bars. Or if you worked service industry, it was somewhere like McDonald’s, where tipping is discouraged.
I understand that, which is why I’m not willing to write you all off as jerks, and am willing to educate you.
See, in many coffeeshops, restaurants and bars, if a server makes minimum wage, they’re lucky. An awful lot of employers factor projected tips in to a server’s wage, which means when people don’t tip, they make less than minimum wage.
Save your screeds about how if we all band together and quit tipping that bosses will be forced to pay more. They won’t. They’ll pay what they’ve always paid and you’re just hurting the most vulnerable people in the service industry. So quit being an asshole.*
So, here’s a few tipping tips from a former bartender:
1. $1 a drink, minimum. This goes for coffee as well as mixed drinks. If you’re just getting a pop or a beer, you CAN get away with paying less, but I wouldn’t advise it.
2. For meals, I don’t care if it only cost me $10, I tip a minimum of $5 if someone had to bring it to me. 20% if they don’t. In a sit down restaurant, the industry standard is 15%. I start at 20% and go up from there if the service is excellent. I have only NOT tipped twice in my life. Both times were warranted.
3. Also, per the Geek Husband What Rules, if you want excellent service in a strange coffee shop, be stuffing your buck in the jar as you place your order, particularly when fighting the bad rap we’ve already gotten.
If you can’t bring yourself to tip out of altruism, then consider what tipping gets you. It gets you friendly service, a bartender or barista who remembers what you drink, how you like your steak, what you want on your sandwich, etc… It also, in nicer restaurants, gets you preferred seating and free appetizers or drinks sometimes. Consider it an investment in your future comfort.
I’m well aware of the temptation to not tip when you’re in a strange city. You won’t be back here, for at least a year if at all, what do you care? Well, you care because servers have LONG memories, trust me. Also, you’re making everyone you’re there with look like assholes.
Here’s the thing. For many of the SF/F cons I’ve worked on, servers will fight over who gets to work that weekend, because we tip well. We know we’ll be back, we know they’ll be slammed and over-worked, so we tip well. Talking to my friend who works one of the coffee shops around the convention center, when it comes to PAX, they fight over who doesn’t have to work PAX, because you guys have given us the reputation of stingy ass mother fuckers. Service industry folks talk, and no one likes PAX because of this.
This is not cool. I do not need someone spitting in my latte because you clowns have no concept. So tip.
Also, consider, they aren’t even making their usual tips that weekend, because with crowds like PAX has, their regular clientele are driven out by the sheer mass of nerdity. Many of those folks are going to be losing money working to serve you.
I’m serious, next year, if you’re standing in line for coffee and don’t tip, and someone smacks you in the back of the head and calls you a fucking moron, that someone will be me. See if I don’t.
And don’t even try the whole, “I’m expensing it!” excuse. I’ve done travel expensing at three different companies and a university. You can expense tips. Either tips are considered part of the cost of the meal, or there is a separate little box for tips.
Also, here’s a tip for you, if you ever want to date that hot bartender or barista. A. If you don’t tip HIM/HER, you don’t stand a chance. B. If you do go out, and on the date don’t tip your servers, that will be the LAST date you ever go on, and nookie is right out of the question. Seriously, I cannot tell you the number of times guys stiffed me at the bar, and their dates came back later to apologize, tip me on the sly, and then ask for the number for a cab company because the date was over.
Like I said, I’m willing to cut you some slack because I know a lot of you never worked service industry, and don’t understand how it works or how hard a job it really is. But now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
*This goes double for any other weak rationalizations you’ve developed about your shitty behavior. I am uninterested, and your bullshit will be deleted and/or mocked repeatedly.