Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Dangers of Tipping with Cash: Random Thoughts

by Hero Jenkins

This week’s post deals with tipping. I love to tip, I think the people who serve us are under paid and under appreciated. I can tell a lot about the character of a person by the way they tip. Having said that, I have a story about tipping that I think you will enjoy.

Once I treated a couple of people I knew to lunch at local chain restaurant. When it came time to pay the bill, I decided to pay in cash because it would be faster and we were on a tight schedule. Though I usually used plastic, I always had some cash on me. I suppose keeping “back-up cash” or “emergency cash” in this age of plastic may seem quaint but in the back of my mind there was always the possibility that the apocalypse could happen mid-meal and every ATM machine could stop working. I didn’t want to be stranded without money and no way to get any, so I called it my “emergency cash” and kept it hidden away in my wallet.

So as I said earlier, when the check came I looked it over, everything seemed to be in order. The total came to about $40. My customary tip is 20% (usually more depending on the quality of service) that meant $48. I pulled a fifty from my “emergency cash stash” and shoved it into that little black folder with you check in it that they give you and got ready to leave.

When the server came over and collected my little black folder she said what they usually say when confronted with cash: “I’ll be right back with your change.”

After the tip my change would only be two dollars and I was feeling generous so I replied, “That’s ok.” Which means, “Keep the difference… the change is your tip!”

Her eyes widened and she began to stutter. “A-A-A-Are you sure?” she asked nervously.

My first thought was that perhaps she was unaccustomed to 20-plus percent tips, which was surprising because she had really done a good job.

As my guests and I walked to the door I spotted our server in the back room showing the folder to a co-worker and pointing to me.

“Calm down,” I thought. “It’s only ten bucks.”

Once outside my guests were amazed… “You are the most generous person I have ever seen.”

“What are you talking about? The bill was $40 I gave her a fifty… It was a $10 tip.”

They started cracking up.

“That wasn’t a fifty, you put a hundred dollar bill in that folder… you gave her a $60 tip!”

Now this bit of information falls under the heading of “it would have been nice if you had mentioned it earlier”!

I checked my wallet, they were right. My “emergency”, “just in case the apocalypse happens” money was missing it’s hundred.

I felt sick.

It occurred to me to return to the restaurant and explain the mix-up and get my money back. I’m sure they would understand… right? We would all laugh about this… right?

By the time I turned around there was my server and two of her co-workers staring out the window. My guess is they wanted to see what kind of car I got into, expecting a limo or perhaps even a helicopter.

I lost my nerve.

I didn’t have the heart to go back in there and demand my money back.

Needless to say, I could never return to that Chili’s again. I had to assume they would remember me and if I failed to tip elaborately next time I’m sure I would destroy the servers confidence. Or even worse result in unmentionable things being slipped into my pasta next time.

The server would verify that I was the same big tipper that they had heard so much about and be left wondering what they had done wrong to only deserve a 20% tip.

But I learned a lesson that day… there are dangers in tipping with cash so don't try it unless you make absolutely sure you are not giving away too much!

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