You were probably anticipating a post about architecture in Italy, Lucille II, or the exploits of teenagers in rural areas. But this is a post about gratuity.
Sometimes I can’t explain my actions. I’m not quite sure when I became so socially awkward. It comes and goes, definitely, but I’m more awkward than I’m comfortable with.
The other day I was running some errands in my neighborhood and noticed a little coffee shop had opened up down the street. This is Williamsburg and I figured I should get in early. Sooner or later the locals would overun the place. So I went in and was very friendly to the young lady behind the counter, as I always am.
“Are you the owner?”
“No, I’m just helping out for now.”
“Well that’s nice of you. Small black coffee?”
She hands me a small cup of coffee about 85% full.
“Actually, you can fill it up. I take it black.”
She fills it up and points me towards the milk and sugar and stirrers, etc. Which I don’t need of course because I drink coffee black as midnight on a moonless night.
“¢75? I’m not used to things being that cheap.”
Noticing she doesn’t have a tip cup, I say….
“You should get a tip cup.”
“I’m working on it.”
And here’s the awkward part. I reach into my back pocket as if I’m going to tip her, but I panic. It feels weird to me. Tipping on a ¢75 cup of coffee? My mind grapes start to sour. I’m not trying to pick this girl up or anything, I was just being… gregarious. Had there been a tip cup there I would have dropped the change in. But it would feel very strange to place a quarter in her out-stretched hand as a tip. Why did I even bring it up? I take my wallet halfway out, stop, put it back and say….
“Oh, ok then. Well have a nice day.”
And I leave. Without tipping her. What a dingbat.
I’m uncomfortable with the whole tipping thing. It’s gotten out of hand. Often times I feel like Larry David. “Can’t anyone perform a service now without expecting a tip?” I never know when to tip, what to tip, who to tip. The maintenance guy has been to my apartment about 10 times in the past couple of months. I never knew I was supposed to tip him. Isn’t it his job to maintain my apartment? Though I’m told I should have tipped him, I’m still not sure it feels right. I ended up giving him a $20 and an apology. Someone should write a book.