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.

“New Place?”

“New Place.”

“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.


  1. Willy February 6, 2009

    A book? No. A website? Yes: http://people.howstuffworks.com/tipping.htm

    When I was in Greece I was told that tipping outside of restaurants was frowned upon because the act of tipping works to place each party on different status levels. I think tipping is considered an insult in a lot of Asian countries.

  2. Greg May 7, 2009

    Bummer. I’ve been walking past this coffee shop every morning and slowly realizing that it has closed down already. This is upsetting. Barely lasted three months. I thought people love coffee in Williamsburg?

Leave a Reply