Family life

How much do you tip?

Increasing expectations around tipping have brought Sandra to her tipping point.

By Sandra E. Martin
How much do you tip?

Photo: sjlocke/

For the first time in a long while, I bought my lunch today.

That in itself doesn't worry me; on my office-gig days, I've been pretty good about packing dinner leftovers, and stocking up on frozen entrees when they're on sale for $1.99 (a great quick lunch for days when there are no leftovers and I've run out of my bulk-cooking stash!).

So, craving a veggie-packed lunch, I walked over to a nearby organic-food place. I was a bit disheartened to discover they've raised their prices, which means I won't be going there again soon. But even more off-putting was the disgruntled look I got from the cashier when I didn't give a tip.

OK, call me crazy, but I don't see why scooping food into a takeout tray then ringing it in on a cash register is tip-worthy.

Don't get me wrong: I am NOT a non-tipper. Far from it. I tip well (at least 15%) when I have a good experience in a restaurant, and almost never leave less than 15% even when I have just a "meh" experience. I give Tim Hortons gift cards to our crossing guard and mail carrier every Christmas season (although someone on Twitter recently said city employees are no longer allowed to accept gifts?!?).

But I steadfastly believe that pouring a cup of drip coffee or serving up a takeout meal is not tip-worthy. I know, I know, the people who work in takeout places don't make a ton of money, but if I start tipping at an independent lunch place, do I start tipping at McDonald's too? Wouldn't it be unfair of me not to tip for the next Happy Meal I buy? Should I tip my grocery store cashier for toting up my purchases and helping me to fit everything into my three reusable bins without squishing anything?

And, speaking of the holidays, the conventions around that occasion just make me confused. So I am supposed to give my hair stylist a tip the equivalent of a full regular service? What if I've just started seeing that hair stylist? I sheepishly admit that I avoid getting my hair cut during the holidays specifically so I can sidestep the gift/tip issue.

Where do you stand on tipping? Are the asks just getting too much, or do you feel that it's right to tip whenever someone performs a service? Weigh in here.

This article was originally published on Nov 15, 2012

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