When I tip, you tip, we tip. [#Tipping?]


So, I’ve written about tipping at length before.  I won’t get into all of it again, but I have heard the subject come up lately, and I just want to know where I fall.  This is all about discussion.  I want feedback.  How do you tip?  Some questions I’d like answered…

  • Do you tip 20% when out to eat, or are you still at the 80s 15% standard?  (Please don’t say it’s 10%.)
  • Do you round to the nearest dollar or leave exact change?
  • If you only get a slice of pie and a cup of coffee (or less), do you throw percentage out the window and go for a minimum amount?
  • Is it cool to leave the tip on a receipt if paying with a credit card, or does the waiter/waitress think you stiffed them?
  • Do you tip if there’s an automatic 18% gratuity for a large party?
  • Do you tip better (or worse) based on service, or should it be automatic?
  • How much do you tip a pizza guy/girl?
  • Does the pizza tip change if you have more than pizza or a ridiculously large order?
  • Do you adjust tipping a delivery person in inclement weather, on or near a holiday, or on a day like thanksgiving or New Year’s Day when everyone else is ordering out?
  • Is your delivery tipping based on a percentage of the total, or on a flat per-trip fee?
  • Is it cool to leave the tip on a receipt if paying with a credit card, or does the delivery driver think you stiffed them?
  • Do you tip on take-out when you pick it up?
  • Do you tip at Starbucks or a mom n’ pop coffee place?  Is there a difference?
  • If so, is it change, or paper?
  • Do you tip per beer/drink at the bar, or per round?
  • How much do you tip for a $15 or $18 men’s haircut?  How much more for a beard trim or a shave?
  • Who else do you tip that may not be so obvious?  The garbage man?  The mailman?

I try to tip well as with my food allergy I have a small circle of places where we dine out or get delivery with a high level of comfort.  I want to make sure I’m in the right place.

Please, discuss!

As a reminder, you can comment here without a WordPress account if you’re already logged into Facebook or Twitter, just go to town!
Moo.

Moo.

💵 💸 💳 💰

Five Guys Burgers and Fries: Doing It Right


So, the other day I posted a Facebook status about Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and I thought I’d share it here and maybe even add some more thoughts.  It seemed to get a lot of comments pretty quickly.

Here it is:

I’ll tell you what, for all the customer service and food service that I do complain about… one place stands out as incredible. Every time I’m at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries no matter the location, they are fully staffed… everyone is doing a job & doing it quickly & efficiently with a rather pleasant look on their face. They communicate with each other quite well. The employees seem to be having fun while getting their job done, and they seem to take pride in what they do. I can only assume they pay much better than the average fast food joint, or just know how to delegate responsibilities evenly & know how to treat employees. I was in the one in Robinson when they got SLAMMED at lunch time today, and they put more people on registers, and worked down an ridiculously large amount of people in a short time. It helps that they only have burgers & the occasional hot dog as a menu item I’m sure, but it still is pretty impressive.

I'll tell you what, for all the customer service and food service that I do complain about... one place stands out as incredible. Every time I'm at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries no matter the location, they are fully staffed... everyone is doing a job & doing it quickly & efficiently with a rather pleasant look on their face. They communicate with each other quite well. The employees seem to be having fun while getting their job done, and they seem to take pride in what they do. I can only assume they pay much better than the average fast food joint, or just know how to delegate responsibilities evenly & know how to treat employees. I was in the one in Robinson when they got SLAMMED at lunch time today, and they put more people on registers, and worked down an ridiculously large amount of people in a short time. It helps that they only have burgers & the occasional hot dog as a menu item I'm sure, but it still is pretty impressive.

I’ll tell you what…

I should take a video of 10 minutes in a Five Guys and 10 minutes in this damn McDonald’s on West Liberty Ave. and compare how they’re run.  McDonald’s employees are slow, confused, careless, and sometimes even slovenly.  Five Guys employees seem to be the exact opposite on every front.

I’ve been to several locations, the Waterworks, Murrysville, Robinson, and Greensburg… and they’ve all been run with the same efficiency, pleasantness, and extreme cleanliness.  I just think it ought to be said that it’s noticed by the customers, and they need to keep doing what they’re doing.

Of course, I’m very aware of food allergies, and peanuts are a big thing at Five Guys.  This seems to get a bunch of flack, but they do take allergies seriously.  The peanut-allergic have to accept it just like I accept that being allergic to shellfish, I’m not going to get a safe meal at Red Lobster.  It’s OK.  There are many many places to dine & choices to make.  I’m glad that I have Five Guys as a choice.  I’ve heard that they are excellent in handling a dairy allergy.  Just check out the comments in the image above to the right.  I see the allergy warnings on the door as a very responsible thing to do.

Even after all that… the burgers are just absolutely delicious.  I tend to get a bacon cheeseburger with A1 and green peppers… sometimes even mushrooms.  The french fries are almost as awesome as Kennywood’s Potato Patch fries, and that’s hard to do.  The ingredients are always fresh, the burgers always cooked perfectly.  One of these days I want to try a hot dog… but I can never get past the burgers.  Maybe a little burger & a hot dog will have to do some day?  I don’t even know if I can handle that.  I’m glad I don’t live too close to one of these places, I’d be there way too often.

I hope to send a link to this to Five Guys, just to tell them that I appreciate what they’re doing, and to keep on doing it.  Customers can see and appreciate that the employees are enjoying what they do, and doing it well.  It does make a difference.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon
Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

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Tipping is not a city in China


Tipping is not a city in China

Has anyone checked? Maybe it really is.

“Tipping is not a city in China” always struck me as amusing since the first time I saw it written in sharpie on a piece of paper and taped to the tip jar residing at the Misfits merchandise table in the late 90s or early 2000s.

I have seen the subject of tipping come up repeatedly lately on Facebook , in the news, and other sources (like actual conversations face-to-face with real live people).  I’ve probably even talked about it here before. Check out this snarky yet brutally honest article by a blogger (& waiter?) that I Re-Tweeted +1’d pinned shared on Facebook a few weeks ago.

Who sets the standards?  The people being tipped (tipees?)?  Their bosses?  The tippers?  Society at large?

The whole process has always confused and bewildered me (& will most likely always continue to).  I was raised thinking that for a waiter/waitress that 15% is a good tip.  For the past several years, through the magic of the internet, I have been told that 20% is a good tip.  So, 20% is the new 15%.  I’m not sure if this varies per area, or if this is all over the US.  I’m not sure if everyone agrees with this, or just your server.  I know some people that still think 10% is acceptable, and it puckers my butt-cheeks.

Things I know:

  • It’s crazy to get out the tip calculator & lave a tip to the penny.
  • In fact, don’t leave change.
  • Waitresses sometimes have to tip busboys, bartenders, and other employees.
  • A tip is expected, even for bad service… just a little one.

Things I don’t know:

  • Say I’m at Bob Evans and I don’t have any cash on me… I tip with the card.  Does my waitress think I stiffed her?
  • When will they just pay waitresses & waiters what they deserve?
  • Is “keep the change” acceptable if it’s an adequate tip, or is that just a pain to figure out?

I always try to leave decent tips, simply because I don’t have a large circle of places to go where I feel comfortable.  (You know about the deathfish, right?)  I’m sure I’ll be back if I find a place that I like.  Why not tip well?  Hopefully I’ll be treated well the next time, & the next time, & the next time..

Here’s where it gets weird…

One waitress at a Diner could come across all of these issues:

Breakfast

Cup of Coffee

Lunch Special

Casual Dinner

Meal Total

$17.95

$1.95

$6.50

$28.40

# of People

2

1

1

2

Table Trips

6

6

3

3

Refills

2

5

0

1

Hours There

1

½

1

20% Tip

$3.59

39₵

$1.30

$5.68

So, in all of these situations, is 20% rule appropriate?  Is it the “no less than $5” rule?  Is there a “no less than $5” rule? Do you get $6 for dinner because of the price of the meal, despite less trips than say a breakfast where you get tons of cheap sides?  What do you tip when you drank a butt-load of coffee?

I used to work night shift on an assembly line at Sony & a bunch of us would hang out at Eat ‘n Park in New Stanton with the late-night UPS employees.  I know I’d always get free stuff… bowls of soup, drinks, grilled stickies…  But I always tipped to include for the amount for that item.  We were hanging out for endless hours, and tables weren’t turning over, so it was only appropriate.

What about a trip to Sonic?

  The Carhop

The Drive Thru

Takes your order:

☒ No

☑ Yes

Reads It back:

? Sometimes

☑ Yes

Takes Your money:

? Sometimes

☑ Yes

Walks (or skates) out of the building:

☑ Yes

☒ No

Hands it to you:

☑ Yes

☑ Yes

You tip the carhop, but probably don’t tip at the drive through… the only real thing that they do differently is exit the building.  For that they get a tip?  (OK, rollerskating carhops deserve a mad tip.)  Why doesn’t the drive-through person get a tip?

How & what do you generally tip?  Do you have any personal guidelines?  What were you taught?  Percentage or straight dollar amount?  Always?  Never?  On Holidays?  Who taught you?

  • The pizza guy (or girl) (…or other food delivery.)
  • Haircut / Wash
  • Car-wash (Magic ash type drying people, and/or fundraiser.)
  • Six Pack Shop / Beer Distributor
  • Doorman
  • Cab / Limo driver
  • Person who takes your bags at the airport
  • Bellhop
  • Furniture delivery
  • Mailman / UPS / FedEx
  • Movers
  • Garbage man
  • Coffee shop or ice cream parlor with a tip jar
  • Touring band’s merchandise table
  • Any sandwich shop, deli, or pizza place where you “eat in” that has a tip jar.
  • Gas station attendant?
  • A masseuse?
  • Anyone I forgot?

If there’s a jar asking for tips…

  • Are you more or less likely to tip?
  • What if it’s funny?
  • What if it’s begging?
  • What if it’s “whiny” or demanding?

I just really find the subject interesting & I’d like to get a discussion going in the comments here.  GO!

(I fully expect my friend Laurel to rant here in the comments, please don’t let her do it alone!  Let’s engage in intelligent discussion.)

TIP JAR

Fresh Meat: Omawarisan Delivers (via blogdramedy)


Check this post out, and RECOGNIZE the pizza delivery dude.

He takes pride in his service.

Fresh Meat: Omawarisan Delivers I have a tasty snack for you today on Fresh Meat. The great Omawarisan, creator and lone writer of Blurt, agreed to do a guest post for Blogdramedy. Color me beside myself! Now there’s two of me. One’s in yellow crayon but whatever. I told you I was excited. He blurts stuff. Funny stuff. Need proof? Here we go! —– A Tribute To The Pizza Guy I hav … Read More

via blogdramedy

Food Allergy News, the good kind…


OK, so my last Food Allergy post was a little sad, disheartening, and rant-like.  Hopefully this one will be the Yang to the others Yin.  (Or is that Yin to the others Yang?)

I’d like to share some good news in the form of links, and a little commentary…

http://twitter.com/#!/AllergyEats/status/17239393752322048

http://twitter.com/#!/FoodAllergy/status/17567884217683969

  • FAAN | The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Management Act – Finally, the FAAMA bill has passed, and is expected to be signed into law.  This will hopefully prevent events like the ones surrounding Katelyn’s death from happening in the future by making sure schools are more educated on the subject, and more equipped to deal with similar situations.  Sadly, it’s a voluntary policy and not a mandatory one.

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/17572685122895872

Food Allergy News, the Katelyn Carlson tragedy.


So food allergy news seems to be all over the place the last few weeks.  There are good things happening, and there are bad things happening.  I’ll hit you with the bad news first, then we can move on to the good news with a perspective on why it’s good news & why it’s important.  (Looks like I’m so long-winded, that will need to be its own blog post.)

Sadly, Katelyn Carlson, a 13 year old girl passed away earlier this month due to an anaphylactic reaction to peanut oil or a peanut cross-contaminant in some Chinese food that was served at a school function.  Apparently parents and teachers “checked multiple times” with the restaurant to make sure there were no peanuts in the food, or peanut oil… I’m guessing there were cross-contaminants somewhere along the line.  My thoughts on the subject are summed up perfectly in a Nut-Free Mom blog post on the subject.  While I don’t want to appear as pointing the finger at anyone… this tragedy could have certainly been avoided if the parents, teachers, administrators, and/or restaurant employees were all better educated about food allergies and cross-contamination.  Unfortunately, all involved will certainly be more cautious about such issues in the future.

Mr. Yuk
Mr. Yuk

Being allergic to shellfish, Asian food is at the top of my “No!/Keep Away!/Do Not Touch!” list.  (Okay, maybe 2nd to Red Lobster, Joe’s Crab Shack, & Long John Silver’s.) Not only is shellfish a visible ingredient in Asian cuisine… crab can be in “vegetarian” egg rolls as something is lost in translation, and oysters and brine shrimp are commonly used to make a plethora of sauces.  Similarly, peanuts and peanut oil are an essential ingredient to a bunch of Chinese food.  Why would one even attempt to assume it was safe?  Obviously, it’s just not a good idea.  I have ended up becoming pretty good at making a few Chinese dishes at home that I know are safe where I can read all of the bottles.  It may not be as good as the place run by actual Chinese people a few blocks over, but it’s also not going to potentially kill me.

Obviously, this points to a need for better food allergy education across the board…

  • For Restaurants: The chefs, the owners, the waiters and waitresses, the host or hostesses… anyone who can be asked in any situation where there’s food involved needs to be educated about potential food allergy dangers ans especially about cross-contamination.  Also, they should be required to have an epi pen or two in their first aid kit, without question.
  • For manufacturers/processing plants: I call “shenanigans” on the whole labeling process that puts the CYA warnings like “This (whatever) processed in a facility that also processes peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, wheat, and belly button lint.”  The other day I saw packaged cheese that had the shellfish warning on it.  Where, why, and how would cheese ever need to or potentially come into contact with shellfish while it’s being made or processed?  Does Admiral Ackbar run your processing plant?  Is there lobster flavored cheese every few runs?  I would push for stricter rules for these companies where such allergens do not come into contact with other foods… it requires separation and sterilization.  Also… why not a “Mr. Yuk” type system with images or icons?  Everything else has been dumbed-down to icons over the years.  Why not make it easy with a rating-system for “contains”, “possibly contains”, and “processed in the same facility” with little pictographs of the scary deadly allergens?  Let’s differentiate between “allergy” and “intolerance” while we’re at it.
  • For schools: Food allergies are obviously a real issue.  Obviously there’s a comprehension problem when it comes to safety.  School nurse’s stations and cafeterias also ought to be required to be equipped with an epi pen.  This is one area where federal laws ought to trump state laws (as much as my inner political self is against this) and require them across the board, everywhere.  Teachers and administrators ought to be required to take food allergy classes or even tests just like first aid certification… or in with first aid certification.
  • For parents: Obviously, it’s a fine line between being over-protective and ridiculously worrisome and educating your child on food allergy and cross contamination issues.  They are serious and potentially life threatening.  Medical tags/bracelets and a personal epi pen are probably a good idea.  Your child needs to be equipped with the knowledge of potential allergy triggers, aware of what can happen, and the confidence to say “no, I’m not eating that” to other kids or ignorant adults.  In with being aware of what may happen… staying calm is necessary when an allergic reaction happens.  Knowledge of what happens, how, and how to stop it and get help can greatly increase the chances of remaining calm.
  • For people with food allergies: Obviously you’re (hopefully) on guard all the time.   Stay that way.  Read up on the subject, be informed, teach others.

So, there’s my humble and seemingly grumpy opinion.  My heart goes out to the family, friends, & classmates of Katelyn, I can’t imagine the greif that they’re going through.  I hope they can take some comfort in the fact that many others can use this tragedy to become more aware of and educate others on  food allergies, cross-contamination, and perhaps even funding for research for a cure.

AllergyEats interview with CEO of FAAN…


I’ve been meaning to reblog this for a a few days, but it’s been a hell of a week.  I haven’t posted any food allergy propaganda in a while, so I figured it may be time.

Check out this article from AllergyEats: An interview with Julia Bradsher, CEO of FAAN

An excerpt that got me a little excited:

Restaurant legislation is starting to get introduced in other states, too.

In Pennsylvania, House Bill 45 would require training programs designed to prepare candidates for certification exams to include training on food allergies, including a video and written materials.

Legislation in PA?  I need to do a little more research and some letter-writing.

While I generally would like to see a consumer-driven allergy-friendly service movement because I feel the “want to” motivation is better than the “have to” motivation, I don’t see legislation like this as a bad thing at all.  More education, information, and training on food allergies can only help everyone involved… and  hopefully over time help food allergy issues to be taken more seriously than they currently are.

While you’re over checking out the AllergyEats site, don’t forget they’re giving away free T-shirts!

 


Two Thrilling Tweets


Well, maybe not thrilling… but pretty damn cool.

  1. pnutfreeworld pnutfreeworld

    State urges food allergy safety in restaurants – The Boston Globe http://shar.es/mnumS via @sharethis #foodallergy #peanutallergy about 16 hours ago from web

  2. pnutfreeworld pnutfreeworld

    wbur.org: State Proposes New Food Allergy Rules For Restaurants http://www.wbur.org/2010/02/11/allergy @WBUR #foodallergy #legislation about 16 hours ago from web

What’s so thrilling?  Well, people in the US are being made more aware of allergies.  Of course it has to start in Massachusetts, not Pennsylvania.  I’m also fully aware that proposed laws aren’t actual laws… but there is some hope some more awareness being raised in public kitchens.  Sadly for me, they keep citing peanuts, soy, wheat, milk, & fish.  What about us shellfish people?  Ha ha ha.  I guess ‘fish’ is supposed to cover that.

Thanks to pnutfreeworld!  If you’re on twitter, and have allergies… check out this list.