I'm no expert on The Economy or anything (or anything) but even before We The People almost fell or were pushed off the Fiscal Cliff, here in Baltimore, America, there's a new restaurant opening up every five minutes, so that's gotta mean The Economy is starting to do better, even if those idiots in Our Nation's Capital were (are) trying to fuck it all up, right? I mean, if people can go out and eat new food in novel places, then that means there's Disposable Income and stuff, eh? It's a Trickle-Down Theory of Economics! If you got people who wanna drop a few bucks on a meal, then you need to have people working at all these places cooking and doing and serving up the food and beverage, so that's good for the Business of America: Baltimore, see?
I read in The Sun paper about these donut guys, the Fractured Prune, and how they're gonna make Franchised Prunes all over, and that Ouzo restaurant downtown in the Inner Harbor "East" with all the ouzo, then I saw there's this Shoo-Fly restaurant over by the Senator Theatre, and there's gonna be the big Paulie Gee's sit-down pizza place in Hampden, plus the Blue Pit BBQ place? All these new places to eat! All kinds of people working in the Service Industry, man!
I usually save my lecture on how to be an excellent Service Industry Employee for around College Graduation time, for all the Graduates who will need to go out and earn, despite whatever kinda kooky degree they got, and the Service Industry has always been there, waiting with open aprons for the "overqualified" Graduate, but there's ground-floor Opportunity for the non-graduate right now, so I am gonna save my advice for how to serve me food for another time, and instead take this opportunity to re-address proper Tipping strategy for you, the consumer of Food Service.
First and fivemost, I tip for almost everything, see? I don't care what you're "supposed" to tip for, if somebody at the Public Library is outstanding at helping me find something, I'll throw 'em a coupla bucks, c'mon, how can this be a bad thing? Hey, Library worker, thanks for helping me with the microfiche or whatever, here, use this as a down payment on a snack or a cuppa coffee or something. When I'm in a restaurant, I start at 20 percent and work my way up or down, depending. People in restaurants work hard, man, and most of 'em work for tips on top of a skeletal paycheck. I tip the pizza delivery $2 a pie because I appreciate pizza brought to my castle within a reasonable amount of time and in good condition. If it's not, I will let the driver know right away, but if I'm gonna eat what they brought, I'm gonna tip something.
I'm not telling you how to live your life, you can decide what you think it's correct to tip for, but a tip is not just To Insure Promptness anymore, it is an Affirmation and Expression of Gratitude. A big thing with people seems to be when you get a cuppa coffee. Many people are all like "What?!? I'm not tipping somebody to pour coffee into a cup, or worser-still, to do nothing but hand me a cup for me to pour my own coffee?" I say, OK, sure, be that way, but it is still possible to receive Outstanding Service from somebody who just hands you a cup, and, like at the 7-Eleven or the "Farm Store," you go in there and they don't even hand you the cup, but what about the "coffee station" or whatever, where they have the many different octanes and flavors of coffee, and all the cups and the creamers, be they dairy or "non-dairy"? And the sugars and not-sugars, and the stirrers, and the lids for the cups and all that coffee crapola? Lotsa places, that thing is a fucking mess, man, there's wet, ripped-open sugar packets, and the stirrers are all over in sticky little plastic Blair Witch Project piles, on top of mini tar pits of coffee/creamer/sweetener, all crusted over, and the glass pots all have like a half-inch of burnt, stale coffee left in 'em, or you go to tap some coffee outa one of those coffee kegs, and it makes that asthmatic/gurgle empty sound of failure, and then the only container that has anything in it is the "hazelnut" one, which tastes like liquid vinyl? Who the fuck decided "hazelnut" is a flavor-thing that belongs in coffee? Where's the goddamn Colombian, man? Gimme coffee-flavored coffee, I mean, seriously, there's always "hazelnut" left over because "hazelnut" is the worst coffee flavor! I need stimulant, goddamn it, I hate "hazelnut!" Bleah! You know how many half-and-halfs I gotta put in the "hazelnut" before the "hazelnut" part goes away? All of 'em! And it still tastes like "hazelnut!"
Anyway, look, if the coffee station is always tidy and I don't have to touch one of the lids that somebody else touched, and the teeny little trash area isn't jammed with trash, then that means somebody there is making a concerted effort to enhance my Coffee Experience, man, and I will reward that with a tip in somebody's hand or in a homemade tip cup someplace. I know whoever did that is already getting a salary, and they are only doing their job, but this is America and I get to express myself when I see a job well done, and yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm looking at a future in the Food Service Industry, c'mon, they're selling the newspaper where I make my column! You think I'm gonna last five minutes with any New Owners? Har! I'm gonna be out on my ass any day now, so look for me to be slingin' donuts or keeping that fucking coffee carafe full, man! I might be making or delivering your pizza! I believe in Food Service! I'm not afraid of hard work, I just need you to remember that the next time you see me, and don't be a fucking cheapskate.