I walked into the ice cream store, craving a scoop of malted milk ball deliciousness – in a waffle cone, of course. As the only bona fide paying customer in the shop, I expected quick and efficient service, but the middle-aged man freaking out about his lost credit card was getting all the attention.
The employee sporting blue-tipped hair and wearing a nose ring was all taken up with the anxiety-stricken fellow who had a zillion and one questions about their lost credit card policy. “Just cancel the card and get a new one.” I thought impatiently. “Duh.”
The second employee, a young man with very thick glasses and wavy hair appeared on the scene, licking his lips and wiping them on his sleeve. I wondered which flavor he was “taste-testing” in the back room. Ready to order, he glanced in my direction and then walked right past me, mesmerized by the credit card debacle. “OMG. Really?” I muttered to myself.
Boring holes in the back of his head with my intense stare for what seemed like 10 minutes, he finally took an interest in me. After ringing up my purchase, he announced, “That will be $3.25” as he turned the iPad screen in my direction. “Just swipe your card and sign after you choose the tip amount.”
What in the heck did he do to receive a tip? He spent 15 seconds putting 1 tiny blob of ice cream in a cone. Did doing his job, albeit poorly, deserve a tip?
Feeling annoyed by the pressure to give him more money, I chose the “No Tip” option. Not this time, buddy.
“Card declined.” he said with a smirk. The second swipe did the trick, so he swiveled the Ipad back toward me and once again had the audacity to ask me to choose the tip amount and sign.
At this point, 3 more customers had entered the shop, and were waiting to be served. They has listened to the entire exchange. So, guess what I did? I caved. I freaking caved and I’m not proud of it. Why? I just wanted the anxiety and pressure to go away. I wanted to eat my cone in peace and quiet. I wanted everyone to just leave me be.
Tipping seems to be getting more and more complicated and confusing. In restaurants, I usually tip the waiter, knowing he/she counts on tips to make a decent wage. I’m good with that.
But, what about hair dressers, baristas, masseuses, Uber drivers, postal workers, valet attendants, bellhops, dog walkers, tour guides, ice cream scoopers, etc…. Am I expected to spend any and all extra cash on employees in the different service industries? And the pressure mounts each and every day to tip. Those Ipads with boxes for tip amounts are the worst. While the cashier and everyone in line stares at you, a monetary decision needs to be made. No time for hesitation or indecisiveness.
Along the same lines, every time I make purchases in certain stores, I am publicly asked for charitable donations.
Last week, I went into Whole Foods to buy groceries for the holidays. Upon check-out, the cashier asked me if I’d like to give a donation to XYZ charity. I was prepared. I knew the question was coming and I had an answer – “No” I say a bit too forcefully. And then more mildly, “No thank you.” The pride lasts for a nanosecond and soon thereafter, I make my exit, feeling sheepish, cheap and uncaring.
Watch this short South Park clip for a laugh:
How about pet stores? Purchasing catnip, I slide my credit card and the screen makes me answer “Yes” or “No” to the following question – “Do you want to save abandoned dogs and cats?”
What kind of question is that?
Of course I want to save abandoned dogs and cats. I want to save all homeless animals, everywhere! I like animals more than most humans, but the guilt-trip is too much!!
At Safeway, I came across the same type of question, “Would you like to feed the starving children?
Ummmm – Of course not. I want all starving children to die of hunger. Soon.
Really? The more I read, the less I appreciate the fundraising tactics used by many charities.
I love ice cream, I adore animals and I do not want anyone to die of hunger, but I do not have an infinite source of cash on hand and need to choose wisely. If I gave a donation or a tip to every person who asked, I’d need to set up a Go Fund Me page to pay for my everyday expenses or risk ending up homeless, hungry and lonely as I’d have to give up my cherished cat…..how could I possibly afford to feed her the 4 cans of cat food she devours daily? Seems at odds with the original concept.
Ultimately, it’s important to be able to say “No, thank you” without feeling guilt, remorse or awkwardness. One of my mentors who I deeply admire used to tell me, ” What other people think of me is none of my business.” He’s right. I do not have to explain my decision making to others and most people probably don’t care if I give a $1 dollar tip or $5 dollars to charity. What’s important is that I do care about others and I do what I can to make a positive difference in the world. I do not need to explain myself ( even though I did just that in this blog post).
Now, I have a question for you. Would you like to help put an end to a progressive neuromuscular disease that affects 2.8 million people worldwide (including my son), causing muscle atrophy, loss of sensation, drop foot, nerve damage, etc, etc, etc? If you answered no, I just have to ask you, “What in the world is the matter with you? Don’t you care about people with disabilities?”
If your answer was yes, you are a true pal. Please make a donation to the CMTA here: https://www.cmtausa.org/donate/make-a-donation/
Oh, and you can add a tip, too…….no pressure – LOL!
Finally; the choice is mine, a guide to making the right decision for me without the guilt!
I support this effort because my sister ❤️ Elizabeth told me it’s the right thing to do!
Thanks for reminding us all that sprinkling our cash at every request is unreasonable and it feels uncomfortable. Purposeful giving feels so much better. Happy New Year and a clean slate to do different!
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Another great piece of writing Elizabeth.
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Thanks Dennis. So appreciate your reDing my posts! Happy New Year!!
So true!! I have been feeling the same way in many situations. Well said. Thank you.
Can’t believe you’re now expected to leave a tip for ice cream scooping. I too am usually guilted into tipping at grocery & pet stores, especially if someone’s in line behind me. Loved how you turned this around for an apeal for CMT at the end