Important New Research into the Field of Tip Jars

My most recent column from the magazine is here. Regularish blogging resumes after the holiday weekend. But in the meantime, I’m wondering – is there some cool-person code that prohibits retail-type employees from saying “Thank you” when you drop some change in their tip jar? I’m legitimately curious about this. In fact, I’ve started a highly rigorous scientific study into this matter, one that involves field research and possibly one day, as all science experiments must, a Bunsen burner. And the results are fascinating. They pretty much make me the Frederick Banting of the field of ingratitude.

In the interests of science and not jingling when I walk, I have dropped a minimum of 50 cents, and sometimes up to $2, into a tip jar now on 22 consecutive occasions – and on the every single one of those occasions, every single one, the person who just served me has said… nothing. No “thanks” or “thank you” or “you da bomb, four eyes.” (I have no idea how young people talk.) No nod of appreciation. Nothing. One Starbucks barista winked, but he’s also the guy who refers to everyone as “my friend” – “What can I get for you, my friend?” “That’ll be $3.15, my friend” “Why did you just reach over and jab me in the eye with a steam wand, my friend?” – so it’s not much of a stretch to assume he’s also The Guy Who Winks At Everyone, tips or not.

Here’s my thinking: if your goal is to get people to “tip” you, and your job – at its most challenging – involves swiping a debit card or making milk slightly warmer before mixing it with coffee, then perhaps an expression of appreciation would go a long way to making people want to tip you again.

It’s fun getting old. Next week I’ll probably have an opinion on self-scan checkouts and municipal politics.

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