Sometimes I meet random strangers who are so helpful to me, I just want to tip them. I see it as a genuine expression of gratitude — that can be accomplished in under a minute. 

Of course, restaurant servers make less than the minimum wage, so I feel good about tipping them generously. It’s just a fact that you get prettier latte art if you tip. But tipping at a self-serve gas station makes me feel like I’m in an alternate universe. 

It seems that people’s biggest tipping gripe is being asked for a tip before a service is rendered. Some comedians have routines about the percentages the establishments suggest — and how it always seems to be an iPad point-of-sale device that is prompting us for tips up front. 

Another thing about tipping culture in retail kiosks is that I don’t love to carry cash. One time I was in a store and I absentmindedly commented, “You guys should add a tipping option to your credit card reader.” Big mistake. Several years later, all their cash registers were iPads that prompted me for 20%, 30%, or 40% gratuity. 

It strikes me as cynical that so many job postings are quick to point out that a job includes tips. It’s like a retail version of a corporate sign-on bonus, but no one has any control over how much it will be.

As for the trope that an untipped fast-food employee will do a bad job with your food, all the more reason to do a tour of Italy in your kitchen — or to switch to a place where you can see your food being prepared, or to find a few more good restaurants.  

JHA can educate you or your kids on tipping and how it affects your spending plan. Contact us to learn about our financial mentor services.