Geek Girls Rule! #139: This is a Public Service Announcement

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.

15 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #139: This is a Public Service Announcement

  1. i agree with this.


    there is no “waitress wage” in Washington state. if anyone in Seattle is getting less than minimum wage, they need to call L&I on their shady employer’s ass.

  2. Excellent public service announcement. Hopefully this will make local servers hate PAX less. After hearing Bua’s rant, I was so, so glad I was out of the coffee business.

    I think part of the problem is the modern relationship with service people. The servers and friendly, and smiling, and so it’s easy to assume that they like their job and like us, and we have a friendly relationship, and you don’t need to tip your friends, right*? But of course, that barista is smiling because it’s her job, and whether she loves or hates it, she doesn’t have a lot of choice. And no matter how much you think she likes you, if you’re not tipping, she and all the other servers are going to say nasty things about you behind your back. Because it’s a business transaction: servers are paid to be nice to you. Which doesn’t mean you can’t make friends with servers, but showing that you respect their professional boundaries first helps.

    *yes, you do. Especially if they’re giving you discounts or freebies.

  3. Preach it!

    Part of eating out and getting drinks out is tipping. I advise a minimum of no less than $2.50 on a meal of $10 or less at a sit down place – particularly if you don’t just eat and go. Time and table space is money. I’ve been unemployed for over a year. I don’t eat out at a sit-down restaurant unless I can afford to tip properly. It’s part of the cost. If you can’t afford to tip then do everyone a favor and go eat at a fast food place that doesn’t figure tips into the pay.

    In a dance club I’ll tip $1 on an over-priced bottle of water or a glass of pop because that’s would I would tip on any other drink I’d order. You’d be surprised how much bartender’s appreciate it when you do that. I get nice and cold water and pop that’s not mostly ice. On the rare occasion when I *do* order a drink you can bet it’s a good drink!

    You are doing not only yourself but also your event a favor by being a good tipper. Cultivating good will with the businesses at and surrounding a venue will help ensure a good relationship with that venue. If businesses don’t like an event they will bitch about it and eventually the venue will stop wanting that event there. On top of that, if an event gets a bad rep they will have a hard time trying to secure a new venue. You don’t want that to happen with PAX.

  4. @Ironymaiden: Admittedly, my last experience with the “waitress wage” was in the early 90s. But I would not be surprised that it’s still in practice in some places, illegal or not. One of the many reasons that cocktail waitressing sucks, it’s kind of like stripping, without a huge bouncer to toss the assholes out if they touch you.

    Plus it IS still perfectly legal in plenty of states, as far as I know.

  5. I do tip at independent coffee shops, but my understanding was that the chains don’t generally expect tip money and the employees at coffee chains don’t always get the money – I’ve heard rumors that Starbucks keeps what goes in its tip jars and pays minimum wage to the baristas there. Is this true? Should I tip at Starbucks?

  6. I gotta agree with you there. Having been a pizza delivery boy once, the 8 dollars an hour I made would not have covered all the expenses that go into maintaining your own car for the job.

    I also just consider it a pretty darn polite thing to do in general. If I don’t tip, I usually apologize.

    Also, from what I heard on customers_suck on LJ? Tom Hanks is a great customer and a good tipper.

  7. Quill, as far as I know, and this could be wrong, but I’ve had friends who work at Starbucks, they get more than minimum wage, not a lot, but more, and they also get decent benefits, like health insurance, which most indie shops can’t do. Also, they share out tips at the end of shift, but they don’t expect tips, which is why they don’t have a slot for it on the credit cards.

  8. Jamie, Yes they tax tips here, because you know, taxing my $175 on a friday night is TOTALLY making up for the millions they aren’t getting from AT&T and other corporations.

    Ugh, don’t get me started.

  9. From someone who owns a restaurant in the area and ran a PAX special: THANK YOU. We had some shitty tippers in that weekend, and some people got pretty snippy with my staff when they made a reservation for 15-20 and showed up with 30 and we didn’t have enough chairs. I love the Enforcers, they’ve been good to us, but I won’t be running a PAX special next year. Too many of the attendees don’t know how to act or tip.

  10. I’ll think about it. 🙂 Thanks.
    That group, at least, tipped decently and was polite in the end. But seriously, 30 people showing up for a reservation for 20? WTF is wrong with people? At least call and tell us the revised number on your way over! At a MINIMUM.

  11. I’d like to add that this rule should also apply to Pizza Delivery men and women.

    They not only take your order, but often they’re the one making your pizza and then delivering it TO YOUR DOOR. Yes, unlike the people who wait on your table, they don’t return multiple times to refill your drink, but this guy or gal is making less than minimum wage for you to have the luxury of having food delivered to YOUR DOOR. Delivery people WILL remember and will also go out of their way to give coupons, extra spice and dip packets for good tippers.

    And NO, the “Delivery Fee” does not go to your driver, that’s for the owner to pay liability insurance.

    Don’t your friggin’ dare rounding up. 15% is NOT a lot and if you can’t afford a tip, you have no business ordering out.

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