Take a Penny/Leave a Penny

I have written about this topic before but it bears repeating. How many freaking tip jars do I have to look at every day? I live off of my tips. My paycheck is virtually non-existent. Usually, my check is for a few measly dollars and that’s it. My last paycheck was for a whopping $13 and I was all excited about that. I cashed that bitch and went and blew it all in one fell swoop. One pomegranate martini. There have even been times when my paycheck was for a negative amount. So when I see some kid standing next to a cash register with a tip jar next to him, I wanna lose it on his ass. “Hey, is your paycheck negative? Hey are you paying taxes on those tips? I don’t think so.” I usually will throw a few coins in their jar as a gesture. Usually.

I went to get a frozen yogurt a few days ago and saw the infamous tip jar. Now this place was a self-serve pay by the ounce frozen yogurt place. I picked up the cone, I walked to the machine, I figured out how to get a chocolate/vanilla twist, I added my own sprinkles, then I placed it on the scale and all this kid did was say “$2.25, please.” Wait, I give you three bucks and then I am supposed to drop the 75 cents in your jar for your tip? Nope. Sorry. I need those quarters for my laundry, kid.

The next day I was at a pizza counter with a friend. Her total was $7.03 and all she had was a ten dollar bill. The goober at the cash register asked if she had three pennies. “Oh, no I don’t have any change,” she said. “Hey can I just take it out of this?” and she reached into his tip jar and pulled out three cents. He said, “uh…I guess so.” After we left, I told her how surprised I was that she did that. I mean, that was pretty bold; some may even say bitchy. She had no idea she had stolen tips. “What? I thought that was a take a penny/leave a penny thing. All that was in it was fucking pennies. Who fucking cares?”

I was fine with it. Cash register operators do not get tips. Waiters get tips. Period.

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30 thoughts on “Take a Penny/Leave a Penny

  1. Anonymous

    There really is an obscene amount of tip jars. I would never reach into someone's tip jar for change, (because I wouldn't want anyone reaching into my apron for change) but I don't usually contribute to tip jars either.Your paycheck is your hourly rate (mine is $4/hr) plus a claimed amount of tips you made during that payperiod (we claim them for several purposes- 1:it's the law and we can be audited for tax evasion 2:your paystubs are used in qualifying for loans for you know, buying houses and cars and things, we have to be able to prove me make enough money to make payments on a loan)That total amount (hourly plus tips) is then taxed like anyone else's paycheck. If you have benefits, the amount you pay into those benefits also comes out of your paycheck along with the taxes. If you're in a union, your union dues come out of your paycheck. If you made so much in tips that your taxes are higher than what you get paid hourly (minus benefits or union dues), you end up with a very small or negative check.

  2. Brett Ryan

    You know, I think that the way that Americans get treated with their income is pretty terrible. Why does the economy still work on the concept of tipping?I live in Australia, we do not have any tipping system, waiters and waitresses earn a proper income, relative to the establishment. If I feel the waitress proved to go further I may freely tip them individually.Why are waitresses treated like second class citizens? All hard working employees of any form should be paid fairlyNow don't get me started on why you guys still use the penny which is worth probably 1 second of an average income.

  3. Guy

    Adding to what has already been commented on re: the $13 check. It's not just your credit card tips that affect your paycheck. Waiters are also taxed on their sales, so even if all of your tips are in cash, your paycheck would still be taxed on a percentage of your earnings (it was 8% the last time I waited tables … I don't know if it's gone up). That's why it is ESPECIALLY important never to stiff a waiter: it's just like stealing from them. They are going to have to claim a percentage of whatever you spent as earnings, so the least you can do is tip that much. Consider it a base and work up from there if the service is anything better than horrible.

  4. allisongsNYC

    I, too, find it incredible that we must now tip for everything. I find myself consulting the internet in new retail situations, simply because I don't know whether or not I need to tip! I put my coins in the tip jar just because I don't like them jingling in my wallet (except quarters, obvi). I agree with @FrothyGirlz… it is really irritating when the counter person doesn't see you drop in that change! In any case, I think a person's tip should always be gauged by the amount they do for you and their level of service. If my Dunkin Donuts server hands me my coffee with a smile, I'll throw in the change. If I have a REAL bitchy waiter, you better believe I am not leaving them the customary 20%. I understand sometimes people are just having a rough day, but I am not going to contribute anything to a miserable, rude or just plain lazy employee.

  5. Bobina

    What about Baristas? (not the starbucks kind, but the good kinds at those gourmet cafes that leave designs in your latte)Do they get tips?

  6. FrothyGirlzCJ

    I hate when I wait for the perfect moment to drop some loud-ass coins into the tip jar and the worker doesn't see it. Then I gotta wait, dig around in the tip jar, and do it all over again.

  7. Femgineer

    I never put my change in there. In South Africa there is a phenomemon called "car guards". Guys who stand in the parking lot and watch your car. I normally save my change for them.

  8. Anonymous

    For those confused about the $13 or negative checks, the restaurants keep track of your credit card tips, and calculate minimum wage based upon those tips. They then tax those tips, which can sometimes (if you've done really well tip wise) make you have a negative check. The only way to dodge the system is sometimes with cash tips, as you can kind of sneak away those without the restaurant knowing, but many more people pay with credit than cash.

  9. carmar76

    I'm with Anonymous in the not understanding how you can live off a $13 check, or worse, a negative check? (Not with them on the insulting tone of that comment, however.) It just seems so wrong – and I'm sure it seems even more so to servers! – to be an accepted practice to NOT HAVE TO PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES. There should never be a situation where a paycheck is NEGATIVE. Sorry, I know it's the reality of those who choose this noble profession (yes, serving is noble, even if you're "just doing it to get thru school"). Just can't understand why it's legal.Anyway, thanks to the servers & I'll continue to say thank you in tippage as well.

  10. Anonymous

    Well, I work at a place with a tip jar, and I always thank customers for their donation, even if it's only 3 cents. I know several of my customers on a first-name basis, and I know how they like their subs. I appreciate the tips (even though the whole shift splits them though my service earns them, more often than not) because I work about a 25 mile round trip from my home, and going through a divorce, yes, that one dollar a day that I might get out of the tip jar really does add up. On the weekends, I can make enough to top off the gas tank, pay for the parking garage I have to park in, and that's it. Most of the time, tips barely cover the parking garage. Still, I feel I earn my tips, with friendly, personal service. All opinions, however.

  11. Mary A.

    @ waiting; I get smiley faces on my grande decaffe lattes without the tips. They must be real happy to get my $5.00. But you sound like a nice person.

  12. Anonymous

    How on earth can you live off $13.00?? Do you live with your parents still or what? Sounds like you need to stop bitching and just get a better job.

  13. tina

    I always tip my local Starbucks because they know my name & drink…and even better, they ALWAYS say "thank you" when I put money in their tip jar. But, I am tired of seeing those tip jars in every establishment I enter. Enough already!!

  14. The Bartender

    I used to tip at Starbucks all the time until I realized that no one ever said "Thank You." Every now and then I'll try it again to see if they ever thank me and they never do. So no tips for you, ungrateful Starbucks workers (and yes, their benefits are RIDICULOUS).

  15. OO

    Try shitty pay and no tips. Sounds like a complete failure of a job and no reason to go on with it, but seeing as how I can't seem to find another job at the moment and I still make a minuscule amount, unfortunately I can't really say that I have the ability to quit yet

  16. Waiting

    I tip in tip jars but not out of obligation. I know I am not required to do so but I think it makes them feel good. I will tip if the person is nice/smiling/friendly and it's a place I go to often. I always tip at Starbucks and they know me. Sometimes they give me coupons for free coffee and they always draw a giant happy face on my cup. I tip because I can afford to tip and in the grand scheme of my life I will never miss $1-$2. Also, a lot of those people don't make that much money (minimum wage probably) and they put up with just as many rude/stupid people as I do (while waiting tables).On the other hand, I know exactly what you mean. Tip jars are now everywhere and everyone has their hand out. It's even worse in Vegas. People have begun to make tip jars out of paper cups. I would never allow that in an establishment that I own. It looks trashy and sends the wrong message.

  17. Maria

    Totally agreed. A tip is for service, not for handing me a hot beverage and directing me where to get my own cream, stirrer, and napkin. Also, I know for a fact that at the Dunkin Donuts near where I work, the cashiers don't get the tips – management takes them. Now I question if all of them are not just owners/managers skimming cash.

    1. invisible23

      I beg to differ. I worked at a coffee shop before and some of those drinks are a pain in the dick to make, plus you have to make them in about half a second or the customer will be all up your ass. They do make hourly wages though, so I don’t tip more than like a dollar. I do the same thing at subway, for the same reason. But counter service, where they just ring it in and the cooks make it and deliver it? Nope.

  18. Pizza Girl

    I give tips where they've actually given personal service. For example, my local sub shop knows me well and they know that I tip, so when I get the same thing as I always get, not only do they remember my order, but they make sure my portions are oversized and sometimes they "forget" to ring up my add-on toppings. (But I agree with you that a self-serve yogurt shop does NOT deserve tips)

  19. Chrissy

    hmm, i've seen those tip jars at the reg and never saw the cashier take a penny out of it… now at the market where there is leftover change in the coin machine pickup that is for the customer to get their change from, I've seen the cashier used those extras that are left behind…I agree waiters/waitresses should be the one getting the tips and NOT the ones punching the register.


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