There isn't a soul in Lubbock who hasn't had this awkward moment in their life.
Let's set the scene: You've ordered take-out food. Rather than using DoorDash or Uber Eats, you're picking it up yourself. As you pay for your meal with a debit or credit card, you glance down and see the blank space on the slip where you must enter a gratuity. Yes, a tip. You're the one picking up your own food, but a twinge of guilt strikes you even though (other then cook the food) the restaurant staff really hasn't done anything to deserve a tip.
Everyone who's touched your meal makes a wage -- from the cook to the hostess who hands you the bag. They're not reliant on tips, but yet the blank 'gratuity' space taunts you, judges you. So you write in a small amount just to alleviate the shame and leave with your booty.
I used to be that guy. Not anymore. Not after my experience at a Lubbock restaurant this weekend.
On Sunday, we decided to opt for takeout at a restaurant that we knew has a very unique manner of doing business in this day and age. Ever since the Panda-demic, this particular restaurant (which will remain unnamed) hasn't allowed customers inside their location, but instead does all transactions through a small opening in the door which is just big enough to push food through. They even have their condiments sitting outside so as to eliminate any human contact.
As I shivered in the cold West Texas winter wind outside, the magic door opened and my food appeared. I handed the employee my debit card as he went back through the empty restaurant and ran my card. I grabbed a few (ice-cold) condiments and placed the food in my car to keep it warm while I finished the transaction. I was handed the credit card slip and asked to "total and sign please." I scanned the slip for the signature line when my eyes stopped on the blank space that said "TIP."
It was decision time.
I felt the cold wind cut through me as a looked at the line. I was already paying a small fortune for the food and thought that I really hadn't gotten any actual "service" other than them cooking and boxing up the food. The entire transaction was taking place through a small window of pandemic pointlessness. I then scribbled a zero in the tip line and signed. The employee looked at the form and asked quizzically: "No tip?"
What? You actually asked that question, Broseph?
"No. No tip." I replied. "No need for one. Thanks."
I started to walk to my car when I heard the man behind the door grumble: "We work hard, you know..."
Are you KIDDING ME?
I shot a glance back and had prepared a thousand masterful comebacks, but thought the better of it and simply drove away. It wasn't worth the confrontation. This cat is already getting a wage to work that day since he's not waiting tables, but yet laments that I don't want to slip him a 5 snap for bagging up my food and shoving it through the window. Maybe next time, pal.
I've eaten at this restaurant before and will again because the owners are usually great and I've never had an issue until yesterday. However, it made me think about leaving a gratuity when you don't receive the service that you'd normally tip for, like table service.
When you go to the counter at a burger or taco joint you aren't expected to tip, so why now? In fact, there was even less human interaction in this case. No, you don't need to tip at a walk-up window, and you don't need to have anyone throw shade at you for not leaving them a tip.
Thank you for listening to my TED talk.