I’m walking down 49th Street when my stomach starts rumbling. Actually it’s screaming. I haven’t eaten breakfast and my blood sugar’s in the cellar. If I don’t get something into my gut soon I’ll pass out. Luckily for my stomach, but unfortunately for my cholesterol levels, a hotdog stand suddenly materializes into view. I’m not a big fan of hotdogs but I’m so hungry I could eat a New York City subway rat. Then again, when you think about what hotdogs are made of… get the picture.

“What can I do ya for?” the hotdog vendor asks.

“One hotdog and a bottle of water, please,” I reply.

“Whaddya want on it?”

“Just mustard.”

“Comin’ right up.”

The vendor fishes a hotdog out of his cart, puts it in a bun, and slathers bright yellow mustard product all over it.

“Two bucks,” the man says.

I hand the vendor a five and wait for my change. As I’m waiting I see a Styrofoam cup marked “Tips” perched on top of the cart. I’m taken aback. Since when did hotdog vendors start asking for tips?

“Here you go pal,” the vendor says, handing me back three dollars.

“Thanks,” I reply.

“No problem.”

I take my hot dog and water, move off to the side, and start eating. I don’t leave the man a tip. I may have lived off the largesse of others for almost nine years, but hot dog stands asking for tips is out of line. Before you know it the cashier at the supermarket’s going to have a tip jar. You’ve got to take a stand somewhere.

As I munch on my dirty water dog I monitor my emotional state for signs of guilt. Surprisingly, I don’t feel any. I haven’t waited tables in over a year. Maybe my heart has hardened. Am I becoming like my old customers? Am I becoming cheap? It’s possible. Or maybe I’m coming to terms with reality. Who knows?

I finish my hotdog with an untroubled soul. But just as I’m turing to leave a dirty, disheveled, deranged looking guy walks up next to the hotdog stand holding a cardboard sign marked in crude magic marker letters.


I can’t help but laugh. This guy may be homeless but he’s got flair. I fish a dollar out of my pocket and hand it to him.

“Love the sign man,” I say.

“Thank you, sir!” the homeless man says, beaming. “God bless you!”

As I cross the street I can’t help but think that the homeless guy’s not going to use my money for mind altering substances and paid female companionship. He’s probably really hungry and realized he needed to employ some showmanship to set him apart from the other beggars working the avenue. My dollar’s better spent in his hands then in the hotdog vendor’s tip jar.

Or maybe he will use my money to purchase the aforementioned “luxuries.” Oh well. Them’s the breaks. But if I was in his shoes I’d probably want hookers and booze too.

My conscience clear, I pat my newly sated stomach and go home.

132 thoughts on “Showmanship”

  1. DABCT says:

    Showmanship, that is why you always have to tip the street musicians.

  2. jeff says:

    Your post reminds me of a quote from a favorite writer of mine. (link in name goes to article)

    “I know some people are angry that there are tip jars in places like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. But as Amjad and Rami illustrate, they count on that money to help make ends meet. Don’t get angry at them or the tip jars.”

    Maybe the hot dog vendor and the supermarket cashier and the receptionist in the doctor’s office just count on that money to help make ends meet.

  3. Creative Junkie says:

    I’m curious about this … why is the hotdog vendor not entitled to a tip? What makes him any different than the person who serves you your coffee at Starbucks?

    No snarkiness here … I’m just really curious.

  4. savannah says:

    the man had flair, sugar! re the tip jar, was anything in it? xox

  5. Patrick says:

    I don’t agree that the hot dog vendor is out of line leaving a tip jar out. I do agree that we need to draw the line somewhere; cashiers, bank tellers, and the like are not getting tips from me. I don’t mind small-business entrepreneurs like street vendors trying to make a few extra bucks. It’s nice to have the option to throw them a bone if the spirit moves you for whatever reason (humorous quip, good attitude, etc.).

  6. jimster says:

    My only question Steve is if the hotdog vendor had put on any type of “show”, would you have tipped him?
    Street vendors, like street musicians depend on attracting customers… in any way possible.

    I would have bought the homeless man a hotdog, giving both the vendor a profit and the man some sustenance, but then, I always was the type to throw two rocks through a plate glass window.

  7. jannie says:

    I actually HAVE seen tip jars at supermarket checkouts- the last one I saw was on the Lower East Side (NYC for you out-of-towners). Next you’ll see a tip jar in your doctor’s office.

  8. Miss Tori says:

    You know, I won’t tip the StarBucks guy. I probably would have tipped the hotdog guy. I’m sure that makes no sense, but there you have it.

  9. Terri says:

    I agree, when did become common practice to tip at coffee shops and not MacDonalds? You gotta draw the line somewhere!

  10. Mike says:

    Yeah…I’m a former server and am pretty good with respect to tipping. But I draw the line at tipping counter personnel. I think that Starbucks started this; I mean, it was never an accepted practice to tip the guy at Baskin-Robbins, etc. Now everyone has a tip jar out.

    This just seems like tip-creep. Waiter makes a good point: what’s next…Wal-Mart cashiers?

  11. lisbet says:

    Not to be totally pedantic but how do you really know the hot dog vendor is less deserving? As you well know, the working poor often have really difficult lives- more so many times than those on welfare/state assistance.

    What I feel most uncomfortable about at this point is the tip lines on the receipts of takeout restaurants and my local coffee shop. I feel like a jerk ignoring it.

  12. John says:

    Let the hot dog guy alone. It illustrates what tips should be everywhere, including restaurants. Voluntary gifts given for extraordinary service or just plain because you want to.

    I still say let the restaurants pay a living wage to their employees and charge customers accordingly.

  13. Michelle says:

    I wouldn’t have tipped the hot dog vendor either. The reason why is don’t they typically own their own carts? My understanding is that you don’t tip the owner of an establishment, even a small one! Of course, living in rural East Texas, I could be totally off base on this one. Anything I know about hot dog carts comes from one summer spent living in NYC.

    I don’t tip the people at my local Marble Slab either. They’re rude and an ice cream cone costs in the neighborhood of six bucks. Same thing goes for Starbucks, unless they get my decaf soy mocha latte with whipped right the first time and don’t give me a evil look. 😉

  14. ansi says:

    You know, growing up in New York, the supermarket cashiers and grocery-baggers have always had tip jars. But maybe it’s just the land of tipping?

  15. Patrick says:

    As a former server, I agree with the comments about not tipping counter personnel. The tip is for service provided above and beyond. I don’t tip at the coffee counter, or the put it in the tip jar at the sandwich shop; they are not providing anything beyond the basics.

    I agree, we need to draw the line somewhere. (And when did it become common practice for the gratuity to be 15%-20%? What happened to 10%-15% as standard?!)

  16. Tyler says:

    A quote I learned from dwight from the show “the office” I don’t leave tips, why should I give a tip for something I could do myself. Now my surgeon I gave a tip to because I can’t remove my own gull bladder.

  17. Bob Dobbs says:

    Where I live, tip jars exist in nearly all (non-chain) get-it-at-the-counter food and drink establishments. Bakeries. Taquerias. Pizza joints. Coffee carts.

    I usually leave a little something, not much; unless it’s a place where they bring the order out to you; then I’ll go 10 percent.

    I can see the argument against doing this, but right now — life is hard. A couple of coins? Sure.

    I don’t generally tip cart operators when they_are_ the owner. Sometimes, though, somebody else owns the cart and some minimum-wage kid is doing the work.

    I do make a rule to always tip in a restaurant, even if the owner serves. For all I know, it goes into a big pot for everybody. Even if not, why not? If I know it’s the owner, we’re probably friends. They usually make it up in some way down the line — comps, etc.

  18. Angela says:

    I wanted to tell you that I just finished your book- it was great!
    Gave it to future daughter-in-law to read- she’s a former server in one of our local restaurants.
    Two of my grown children have (and still do) work in restaurants/ coffee baristas. Their stories coincide with many of yours.
    Great job!!

  19. Can everyone please stop kissing steve's butt says:

    Nothing original about that homeless guy’s sign. Pretty cliche actually.

  20. Persephone says:

    I would have tipped the hot dog guy. You don’t know that he owned the cart. He may only be getting a small commission on sales. If it was a cart where the guy just handed you the dog and bun and you had to add the condiments, then I probably wouldn’t tip. But if he applies all the condiments and serves it, then I would definitely tip. And if the barista makes a complicated drink well, what’s wrong with tossing in fifty cents or a dollar. I’ve heard some coffee orders that made me go, “Wha?” and there’s usually from some entitled jackass that will never tip.

    And, yeah, I’ve seen many a sign like the homeless guy’s sign before, and I’m in California, so it definitely has become cliché. I do give money to homeless people, but I pick and choose.

  21. Boxer says:

    Tip jars make me anxious and I try to ignore them. That said, I had a simple breakfast at IHOP last weekend and the bill came to only $13.00 (I was with my nephew) Our waitress had done a great job, so I tipped her $5.00 because it wasn’t her fault I only ordered toast and coffee.

  22. mccn says:

    I tip at Starbucks only because I like how they handle their tipping system, and they provide benefits to employees that most companies wouldn’t. I’d have tipped hot dog man, too – that’s a struggle, that job, with not great money, out in all kinds of weather, and making me food. Sure, they may own their carts – not all of them do – but they deal with city licensing, competition for spots, health regs, et c – just like a restaurant. I wouldn’t tip a bank teller – unless I knew they didn’t get healthcare. I give to the homeless intermittently.

  23. Mia says:

    So, does that now make the bartender that only opened your bottle of beer a “counter” person. At least at Starbucks, someone actually is making your coffee to order.

  24. Matt says:

    @Mia: you don’t tip the bartender for the beer they just gave you. You tip well them so they recognize you and get you your next one faster (or if having mixed drinks, that they make them stronger).

    I’d imagine if you frequent a Starbucks regularly you would want to tip to ensure they remember you, maybe give you something a little extra, or perhaps just make your drink faster. If you aren’t a regular, though, I don’t see any need to tip.

  25. Laurie says:

    I used to almost always give money to the poor man with the “Hungry and Homeless with AIDS” sign on the ramp to the GW bridge. Sometimes he had a kitten with him (good for business!) He broke my heart until one day last summer when I saw him with an iPOD. Not so good for business. I haven’t contributed since. 🙂

  26. Hannah-Moon says:

    Is the hot dog vendor employing himself? Because if so, he doesn’t deserve a tip because he is not paying himself below minimum wage. Part of tipping is to make up for the minimum wage and the wage paid to waiters. On the other hand, is the hot dog vendor employing himself? Because if so, he does deserve a tip because he probably can’t afford health insurance off of one measly cart on one street corner, and the tips probably help him pay the rent, get insurance, or whatever else the price of a hot dog doesn’t do.

    I think we don’t need to ask ourselves if it is appropriate to tip the hot dog vendor, but rather is it our duty to help bring him up onto the level of Americans who have more lucrative jobs and book deals. If it is our job, we need to tip. If it is his own job to achieve the training required to get a better paying job, than it is not our job to tip.

  27. Keith says:

    You definitely have to draw the line somewhere. I’ve worked as a waiter, as a service technician, retail, and many other tipable fields. Some more tipable than others. One of the golden rules has always been “you DONT under ANY circumstances ask for tips.” If you work hard enough and deserve a tip people should take it upon themselves to tip you. In most cases if you deserve it, you will be tipped. Of course you have to go out of your way some; beyond your normal work responsibilities to give them extraordinary service But you should never ask for a tip.

    Even as gracious as I am with tipping (usually 50%+ for good service) if someone asks for a tip, that percentage drops quickly and drastically.

  28. jesse says:

    You just inspired me, steve! I’m never tipping again!

  29. Thadeous Cooper says:

    Tips are for service. Some people don’t feel that taking a hot dog out of a cart with tongs, putting it on a bun and handing it to you is that much of a service. Some times professions exist in a tip gray area. You don’t have to tip at Starbucks, but many people do, you don’t have to tip your mechanic but some do. You should accept that you feel differently about tipping than others do. When you start believing that you are better because of who you choose to tip and who you choose not to tip, or if you judge others for having convictions about these gray areas, then you are getting out of line.

  30. jwins says:

    I think Starbucks is a unique case, given the automated nature of the coffee making there, but a true barista is definitely deserving of a tip, given the artistry involved. If someone knocks out a coffee for you with some sweet latte art on top, I think there definitely worth tipping. I’d say skill is definitely equal to service in the tipping stakes.

    Hot dog dude? Who knows, but I certainly wouldn’t tip the bloke in the local chippy, so I guess the two equate.

  31. courtney says:

    I don’t know about in NY, but I knew a guy who ran a hotdog cart outside of Home Depot, and he made surprisingly good money. It also bugs me when the family owned and run takeout chinese place has a tip jar on their counter. Maybe I’m mean, but they make the menu, set the prices, and do NOT wait tables. Just seems a little greedy.

  32. Mer says:

    See, I always throw a couple of extra bucks in the jar at my chinese takeaway simply because their food is so ridiculously spectacular I am willing to make the gesture of paying extra for the food.

    Otherwise, I usually ignore the creeping tip jars.

  33. thirtyeyes says:

    I hate carrying change in my pockets and I really don’t like spending coin either. So, nickels, dimes, and pennies I happily deposit into whatever cup is nearby. I usually keep quarters (for parking meters etc.) when I’m close to my car which has a place for dumping coins. I don’t think I would tip otherwise unless there was an exceptional service moment.

  34. Clark says:

    I checked into starting a mobile vending business selling hot dogs a couple of years back and there are plenty of people out there to teach you how it’s done and many of them encourage their student vendors to put out a tip jar. If you have a good street vendor hotdog or otherwise that you like make sure you appreciate his business at that location and one of the ways to show that is giving a tip, street hotdog vending is not an easy job I didn’t realize until I started checking into it.
    I tip according to the servers service performance if it’s good I’ll give 15- 20% but if it stinks I’ll leave some pennies and speak to the manager with a clear conscience.

  35. CJ says:

    I consider myself a good to great tipper… But come on – a hot dog vendor who most likely owns his own business? Tips are for service, which will always be the same at a hot dog cart – the dogs have to be handed to the patrons. If ‘tips’ are needed – then raise the purchase price.

  36. Persephone says:

    Hannah-Moon, if he gets a better job, where are you going to get your hot dogs? There will always be a need for service people at all levels of society. Condemning them to a hand to mouth existence because they didn’t go to school is cruel and inhumane. A lot of service workers are going to school; they work in retail and fast food jobs because the hours are more flexible, and their families weren’t able to give them a free ride through school.

  37. Hannah-Moon says:


    I know, I was just trying to play both sides, hence why I argued for and against tipping, and why. I know how the world works, please do not talk down to me.

  38. Samantha West says:

    I give the beggar credit,
    it really does make him stand out.


  39. The Bartender says:

    Steve, visit Aspen, Colorado before you complete your book. Everyone has a tip jar, even the grocery store and liquor store clerks. They are in low paying jobs who commute into town from 25 miles away. Tipping is not for what they do, but for the expense they incur for working there. I had no problem with throwing in a buck there, whereas, normal towns I would not

  40. John says:

    Good story Steve

  41. Wayne Murphy says:

    My sincere hope is that the homeless guy purchased a hot dog with someone else’s dollar and used YOUR dollar to tip the hot dog man.
    You’ve sure come a long way, but none of us should be so far from where we came from that we forget where that place was.

  42. jan in chesterfield says:

    And the debate continues……

  43. MsCongeniality says:

    Do I tip every time I stop by a coffee shop? Hell no. Do I tip the people at the local near my apartment and the Starbucks near my office? Hell YES.

    These are people who remember me by name, start getting my order ready before I reach the front of the line, remember what I order from day to day — even if I change my mind and go for something different, and they often give me free drinks. Forget ‘tip creep’, they provide service over and above the expected and I tip them accordingly.

    Who’s to say that the hot dog vendor doesn’t have the same kind of ‘regulars’ who he treats equally as well? If he’s providing the customers who stop by more often than a single ‘one with mustard’ that kind of service, why shouldn’t he have a tip jar out?

    Would I feel obligated to tip if I weren’t one of those regulars? Almost certainly not. But if I did get excellent service from a hot dog guy, then yeah…I’d tip.

  44. Anonymous says:

    True, tipping a hot dog guy isn’t the standard like in a restaurant, but I’ll tip anyone who gives me exceptional service.

  45. Dick Burntip says:

    That is the problem with this country – so easily fooled by a homeless Australian hot dog vendor that you would give him money for drugs when he should be buying his own hot dogs. We dont have this problem in Canada because we dont allow Australians or hot dog vendors onto our soil.

  46. Bud Munchlip says:

    Way to go Dick! This is exactly what happens when you let the Australians in. It’s because of behaviours such as this that they lost WW2. It wouldn’t surprise me with their third rate foods and music.

  47. Shannon says:

    This kind of reminds me of the woman who came into the restaurant where I work. It was mothers day and she made reservations for a group of 25. She was informed that 20% gratuity was automatically put on the bill for tables of 6 or more.
    She was fine with it on the phone.

    When it came time to pay the bill she refused to leave gratuity saying she didn’t get tips for doing her job.
    The owner recognized her name she gave for the reservation. She owns a farm stand. Why is she getting huffy about tips when stocking fruit and veggies and cashiering isn’t a job that works for tips. I doubt she makes less than $3.00 an hour.
    Even better, our cook and waitresses stayed open late for this woman and her group. We were supposed to close at 6, but they wanted 6:30 reservations. The wait staff didn’t get out until after 9pm. They all worked a 12 hour shift that day and received no tip.
    Needless to say that woman is no longer welcome at the restaurant.

  48. Alexa says:

    In Philly, hot dog vendors don’t have tip jars, or at least, none I’ve been to do. I tend to tip when I know the servers aren’t making at least minimum wage (restaurants, etc.).

    Heh, I was a cashier at a store that famously doesn’t sell walls, and people tried to tip me/told me to keep the change, no doubt in part because I busted my tail to work as quickly as possible, even after 7.5 hours, to stay efficient, and at least be pleasant if I couldn’t smile–and you can’t for 8 hours straight. Unfortunately, I couldn’t accept the tips, even though I would’ve liked to be paid more for giving better service. If they left before I could tell them that, I put the money in the charity fundraiser can.

    Instead of giving money to homeless people, giving money to shelters/food closets may be a better idea. You know where the money’s going that way. I gave money to homeless people until I realized that the kid I was handing my change to was too pale, the dark circles under his eyes were too dark to be merely sleep deprivation, and his ‘acne’ was really a series of scabs–I gave money to a meth addict.

  49. Jake says:

    I really like this blog, and have been reading it for quite some time, but this post is absurd. I’ve read on a few occasions that you, Steve, advocate tipping those people who depend on gratuity for the majority of their incomes. Also, I clearly remember you supporting tips for hosts at restaurants who take care of to-go orders. Your choice not to tip this hotdog vendor seems to contradict both of your previous stances on tipping.

    Firstly, you have no idea whether this vendor owns his own cart or how much income he derives from each hotdog sale. You’ve lamented over and over about how tips help to bring servers, who earn well below the hourly minimum wage, closer to a more acceptable living wage. Did you ever wonder whether your tip might do the same for this vendor? Sure, you can argue that tipping waiters is a more entrenched custom. But if you take that stance it would seem that all of your previous championing for tipping was based on propagating some constructed social practice rather than a genuine concern for the financial well-being of others – not just your fellow waiter.

    Secondly, rationalizing tipping hosts by claiming they render the service of packing your order seems curiously close to the service of making one’s hotdog. I may be misinformed, but don’t the hosts work on the minimum wage? If so, why would they deserve tips any more than a hotdog vendor who could potentially be earning far less on the hour?

    Honestly, after reading about your lack of scruples for not tipping the vendor, and calling for some ambiguous line to be drawn, I question if you’d ever take such a moral stance on tipping if you had never been a waiter. All this talk about the subject, and the impending book, seems more and more like the talk of a bitter waiter rather than that of a concerned individual.

  50. Lori says:

    A few years ago my husband, kids and I went to a Giants baseball game. We saw a homeless guy with a sign saying pretty much the same thing that your homeless guy had. We gave him some money for his sheer honesty and the good laugh.

    As for tipping the hotdog guy – I always throw my coin change from the bill into everyone’s tip jar no matter where it is. Don’t get me wrong, I tip , usually overtip, when I am dining out. I am talking at counter service places. Just my two cents worth.

  51. Jan says:

    This actually made me laugh! The irony! Here you are making more money than…ever, writing about how everyone should tip waiters ( who most of the time only hand over food they have never delt with)and you won’t tip a guy. He is standing in an non air conditioned environment and if you had asked, he would be happy to “dress” your hot dog any way you wanted it. Frankly, the lack of guilt is refreshing to me cause I’ve always felt the cook should be tipped NOT the waiter!

  52. steve macdonald says:

    If you enjoyed the homeless guy’s sign, check out this one:

    (This is the first time I’ve used Flicker. I hope the link works right.)

  53. Persephone says:


    I wasn’t talking down to you. You made a comment that is often directed at service workers, a comment that shows a lack of knowledge and understanding for the worker. It was not clear from your comment that you were playing Devil’s Advocate.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Ha ha Jan, that’s funny…tip the cook, not the waiter…to have said that, you have clearly never worked in a restaurant, or you’d realize that the reason your food comes out perfect, is bc of servers like myself, who stand there and risk the wrath of the cooks, by insisting they do it the way I asked them to. Honey, those cooks don’t give 2 craps about you, lol ;)Oh,p.s., when your food takes forever…that’s also the cooks, not us .

  55. D.S. says:

    I have to say I think the vendor knew that he wasn’t going to get many tippers for his line of work. But I think he knew that putting out a tip jar would make it hard for some customers to not to notice it and and throw in some change. Anyway to make a few extra bucks is always good.

  56. Thea says:

    Jake is kind of right about this – I would have thought that either it’s acceptable to tip any/all low-wage workers or none of them. It seems strange to differentiate on the basis of whether they’re behind a counter or not. Remember Reservoir Dogs, and the great conversation about which jobs are “tip worthy”?

    Here in Australia, tipping is customary for good service but by no means compulsory (although it would be a bit rude to have a nice meal in a restaurant, receive good service, and not leave a small gratuity). On the other hand, heaps of shops leave tip jars on the counter, into which people sometimes toss small change (for convenience) or proper tips (for gratitude). Either way, it adds up, and I don’t feel annoyed when I see a tip jar on a counter unless it says something deliberately annoying like “Here’s a tip: Never eat yellow snow. Now give us one!”

  57. squeaky lemons says:

    whoa, wait a minute here…. since when do you get a hot dog and a bottle of water for two bucks? the water alone would be 2 or 3 from a street vendor. seriously, this isn’t 1985!

  58. Regina Deorum says:

    When you’re a barista at a legitimate coffee shop, you should be tipped. Baristas still have to put up with picky customers who want their venti non fat mocha double espresso with caramel remade because it’s ‘too hot’. Also, at *really* nice coffee shops where they grind the espresso for each cup of coffee, and where they can make designs out of latte foam, for sure they should get tipped. And besides, baristas make maybe a dollar above minimum wage per hour. The way I see it, baristas are no different than bartenders. One serves alcohol, one serves coffee. And you wouldn’t NOT tip a bartender, would you?

  59. Mr. Pink says:

    I think Steve has some explaining to do. What’s the difference in between food service jobs where one is “tip worthy” and one isn’t. A lot of people here don’t think “counter people” are tip worthy, but Steve thinks you should tip take out. Seriously what is the difference?

  60. Brandon says:

    Hrm…I saw this very concept discussed in the AmazingSuperPowers comic just a couple of weeks ago:

  61. kcbelles says:

    Steve, I am honestly confused with your stance on not tipping the hot dog vendor. I see no difference, as stated by several already in previous posts, between him and a take-out order. I believe it really does depend on the action one takes with your order to determine whether or not they should be tipped. Fast food places? No – they grab food, stick it in a bag and hand it to you. No special services rendered. But the hot dog guy; he was willing to dress your dog any way you wanted it. The barista remembers you and has your drink ready by the time you come up to the counter. I actually would tip the hot dog guy over the host bagging an order to go, as the host didn’t do anything special for you, other than handing you a bag. I would really love to hear your response to everyone’s input here; does it surprise you? Or has some of our comments given you a different perspective, perhaps, and you’re now thinking your stance? This was a very unexpected post. And I’m not viewing it negatively; just surprised to hear this sentiment from someone I thought would have a different viewpoint.

  62. Amanda says:

    I’m disappointed, Steve. You won’t tip a working man, but you’ll give a dollar to a homeless one? Really?

    Catchy sign or not, I’m really hoping that the homeless guy wasn’t in view of the hot dog stand when you gave him money. Seems pretty shallow, and I imagine the hot dog vendor was probably more than a little hurt when/ if he saw you. Might wanna think about that, next time someone who has a wildly successful book BASED on tipping and being in the food industry decides to be so inconsiderate. Bad form, sir. Bad form indeed.

    Really..would it have killed you to give the hot dog guy a dollar too?

  63. siltedrepose says:

    The Starbucks I frequent does not have a place on the credit card slip to leave a tip. I also don’t recall seeing a jar, not that I carry cash. I believe that people with personal integrity will give good service if it’s supposed to be part of their job, even without tips. I think that bad service is often a result of under staffing because the employer can’t manage to pay bills without sacrificing quality. I have worked in a place where accepting tips will get you fired.

    In my current place of employment people occasionally leave tips, and it always embarrasses me. I get paid a good wage, and am doing a service that I would do for anyone. Also, if you’ve been rude to me for the last 10 minutes, and you feel guilty so you hand me a tip, this does nothing to reduce me desire to punch your head in.

  64. Bill says:

    Unfortunately, the homeless guy was not even original. I gave money to a beggar to the first time I heard that “honest” approach, too.

    That was 25 years ago in San Francisco. He obviously told his pals, and I started seeing that approach more often.

    Now, the “I need money for drugs and booze, at least I’m not bs’ing you” is probably a world-wide franchise with a logo that says “over 52 million suckers panhandled.”

    That’s the thing about old jokes and old lines…there’s always someone who hasn’t heard them.

  65. Waiterrant Fan says:

    Shannon – that’s why it should have been described as a ‘service charge’ and not a ‘gratuity’.
    I generally agree with most of the above posts – I find it somewhat incongruous and inconsistent to argue so strongly in favour of tipping for some (ie waitstaff) based on their rate of pay (ie to bring their income up over minimum wage) but not others whose circumstances may be the same.
    I would think that if a line in the sand is to be drawn (and I’m certainly in favour of anything that keeps down ‘tip creep’) then it ought be drawn at workers who are paid (ie not self-employed) and whose rates of pay are below minimum wage.
    I wonder how that would work?

  66. Angela says:

    I would have tipped the coffee guy and the hot dog guy. For one reason, my son works in a coffee cafe and most of the customers are real jerks- they deserve whatever they get over and above the whopping $7 an hour. The hot dog guy is out on the streets and while he has little overhead, he is likely trying to support a family just like the rest of us.
    I tip everyone—guess because all of my grown kids have worked in hospitality and it’s tough.
    I also tip my hairdresser over 20% and on the rare occasions that I can afford a pedicure, she also.
    I feel if folks are doing me a service, they deserve a little something extra.

  67. Stephan says:

    I’m wishy-washy about the hotdog man. It may be unfair, but I’ll admit that tipping or not would depend on my mood at the moment. Where I drew the line was when I walked into a McDonald’s about a month ago and they had a tip cup on the counter. I nearly fell out. Although, in fairness, I’ve only ever seen that at that one specific store, so I’m assuming it’s not yet become a regular thing.

  68. gunther says:

    I don’t know if you were intentionally likening tips to handouts to beggars, but I think it is an apt comparison.

  69. Ryan says:

    On principal I refuse to give a dime to a beggar. They provide no services to society whatsoever and giving a handout only encourages that behavior. Fortunately my city has recently banned that behavior and is actively enforcing it. Too bad it doesn’t extend to the suburbs.

    I _will_ tip anyone providing me a service when that service is done above and beyond. I’ve tipped a hot dog vendor 30% before for being out in the elements when I had that craving, and I’ve tipped a server 3% before to make a point when she spent her shift socializing with her boyfriend in the restaurant lobby instead of attending to us, the paying customers.

  70. Laura says:

    I think you’re right. I wouldn’t have tipped the vendor either. That is HIS business in which he’s making at least 75% profit, if not more. Believe me, despite the appearances of ‘simple hot dog vendors’, they are doing pretty well in live. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve NEVER tipped one. I give a tip to whoever I feel worthy based on the service and quality. A tip is NOTHING more than a showing of gratitude. There is NO RULE stating you have to tip anyone, including waiters and waitresses.

  71. Chris says:

    I am on the fence here bud. I think the hotdog vendor makes his money based on his personality. If he is a great vendor… Friendly, remembers customers, etc… greets them and all that then we should tip him. Same can be said about getting better service from your garage guy.

    A comment earlier read we do need to draw the line, bank tellers should not be tipped. But As I type that I am thinking of my bank teller. I stop and see him once or twice a week and he is always quick with a joke and makes a point to communicate with me. Knows my name, gives me a hard time, etc… I have often thought about giving him a Christmas bottle of wine or something other…

  72. ThoseAreMySandals says:

    Almost got arrested in DC one night at 4am when I ordered a philly cheesesteak to go and some Jesus flowing hair looking guy asked me “aren’t you going to tip” I asked for what? and he said “them making your food.” … they didn’t serve me, it wasn’t especially fast, is it me or is that not what take out sandwich and pizza shops are for? food. Worse part was the lady behind the counter was like “yeah, I know his type.” like I’m the bad guy here. What’s next, the dry cleaner? Dunkin Donuts guy?

  73. Harvard=WhenRU gonna fire the Race-Baiter? says:

    The bum with the funny sign is SO OLD. It originally started in the Eighties in Vegas as: “Why Lie? I need a beer.” Pretty soon every azzhole on the planet copied it. It’s JUST NOW getting to New York? And I used to think NY and LA were ahead of everyone else….lol

  74. Jay says:

    Come on where the hell did you find a hotdog stand that sells a hotdog for 1 dollar and a bottle of water for a dollar? More like 4 dollars for that in Manhattan.

  75. Poofy_puff says:

    At my local pizza-place / sub-shop that does not deliver (they don’t need to because their food is so good they do fine without providing delivery), I make a point to put a couple of dollars in the bowl especially when I am paying with a charge-card. I don’t always have cash on me, and I know that merchants have to pay a small fee when they get paid with plastic. I feel that this “tip” offsets that fee. I still leave the spare change when I pay with cash. This is a family-run business and they are always in there working hard, so I don’t distinguish between whether I’m tipping the owner or an employee.

    The rest of the time, I put change in at my discretion. If I have a lot of spare change, I’ll maybe clean out everything except the quarters and put the small change in the jar, but if I’m low on spare change, I might not leave anything.

    Regarding panhandlers who use animals to get attention: I’m not too keen on this shtick, but there is one “homeless” (living in a tent) couple in Harvard Square who have a cat and a dog, and they take better care of them than many “non-homeless” people I’ve seen. So whenever I see them (which is maybe a few times a year) I give them as much money as I can spare out of my pocket.

  76. Star says:

    Hey Waiter,
    I haven’t left a comment in over a year, but I just watched your interview on CNN and I wanted to say congratulations. There are those that would call it no reason for praise, but I think anytime you can get national publicity as a writer is cause for celebration. Well done on the interview and keep the stories coming.


  77. Anonymous says:

    The supermarket I used to go to in Brooklyn, Associated on Myrtle Ave, has tip jars for the cashiers.

  78. paul says:

    It seems to me as if there is a distinction between exclusive counter service and take-out from a full service restaurant.

    Of course, counter staff are capable of rendering extraordinary, tip-worthy service. The difference is anything ordered to-go or curbside at a full-service establishment requires as much attention from the designated to-go staff as a table of guests requires from their server.

    Everything must be checked and verified for those picky diners who must at all times modify the menu in the extreme and wonder why their order is not ready five minutes after they call. It all comes from the same kitchen in the same space-time continuum!

    And lets not forget those finicky diners who sit in their vehicles while sending staff back into the restaurant three and four times to retrieve every last item they couldn’t remember when they called in the first place because they are senseless, absent-minded and selfish enough to believe they are the only guests in the known universe.

    Entrees, sides, beverages, and desserts all have to be packed, and extras like bread/butter/condiments/dressings have to be wrapped. Hot items get packed separately from cold, and everything has to be packaged to travel well. During peak periods, the staffer allotted to take care of to-go orders can get weeded just like a server with a full section who just got triple-seated.

    Typically 10% for restaurant food to-go is recommended. But anyone who has worked a curbside or to-go shift knows the actual work involved merits the same 20% consideration as a server when it comes to the tip.

    And you office managers who order lunch for 20, and who then send a courier to pick it up??!??? No, your courier did not tip us. Were you to eat that same meal in the dining room: 15% to 20%gratuity PLUS tip. For shame!

  79. Tim says:

    There is no way my take-out order cost you as much time as when I sit at a table and you wait on me. 10% is more than fair.

    I would agree with the others that tips for counter service should only be for above and beyond.

    BTW Sandals, the Dunkin Donuts I frequent does have a tip jar.

  80. Wine Too says:

    Ha Ha Ha…. you got a hotdog and a bottled water for $2 and you are whining about a tip jar?? Seriously?? I clicked on your blog and posted I think I probably just gave you some chump change for your advertising revenue. I was a server for much longer than you and I find your comparison petty. You made thousands of dollars for folding napkins, polishing glasses, cutting lemons, making ice tea, marking your tables and scribbling orders and entering them in a computer while somebody else did all the food prep, worked long sweaty hours over a hot oven and made far less than you per hour. That hotdog guy does ALL the work to get you that dirty dog (ever push one of those carts in swelter humidity?). He was not asking for dollars just a little spare change and you opt to give a buck to a guy that made a sign about wanting to get high? Maybe Mr. Hotdog Vendor wants to get high too… ever think of that?

  81. Till Girl says:

    As a current (soon to be former) supermarket worker, I agree that a line has to be drawn somewhere. I wouldn’t feel right accepting tips, and if customers do say I can keep the change(normally about 10p, not exactly much!) I always stick it in our charity box rather than pocketing it.

  82. Tucatz says:

    I too object to the tip jars that are everywhere, and generally ignore them- unless I get a few pennies back in change and don’t feel like carrying them.

    Recently I was in Charleston SC in the marketplace, and stopped to look over some bizarre-looking silver things that caught my eye. They were packaged in such a way that it looked like a very spiky sex toy.

    As I stood there puzzling over what they might be (it has points all over it! I wouldn’t let it anywhere near my nether regions!) the Asian woman running that booth began speaking in machine-gun heavily accented English that I could barely catch. It turned out that these things were intended for accupressure massage- you jammed the points into a spot, turned the thing on and it did a deep tissue massage on that one area. She grabbed me and started demonstrating, causing all manner of odd sensations as she did so, which made my girlfriend laugh as she watched me. At the end of it I forked over $20 for the thing and the pamphlets she have me with it, as much for the performance she did as for the gizmo itself.

    My girlfriend and I still refer to it as the Alien Sex Toy.

  83. paul says:

    In some cases it takes more work and time, actually. I’m of course not referring to a couple of burgers to go. This concerns the kind of guest who expects dining-room attention at the counter.

    The difference is more than just the destination, take-out bag vs. dining room. The guest is still ordering three-plus courses: starters, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, beverages, and all accompanying items have to be ready at the same time. Not spaced out at a dining room pace [half an hour plus], but all cooked, packed, checked, and bagged in 10-15 minutes.

    To get it done right the first time, every time requires speed, multi-tasking, and orchestrating multiple orders with multiple guests. This can easily be more that the total seated covers in a servers section. Not easy by a long shot. 10% percent is adequate only.

    Back to the original thread: How different is a barista mixing even a simple latte from a bartender mixing a cocktail? Or opening a beer? Or pouring a refill of your drip? If you ordered coffee or espresso at a restaurant’s bar, wouldn’t you tip?

    Both merit a tip. Every time, every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  84. Fran says:

    Steve, you’ve definitely found your calling. Keep writing….just finished your book and am recommending it to everyone.

    My husband is a good tipper. However, we recently went to a Perkins restaurant on the way home from PA to NJ. We were seated in an empty dining room and the waitress took our orders. A single man came in after us, and a party of six followed. The man dining alone was served and the party of six rec’d their appetizers before we got our food. It was obvious the waitress knew these other patrons. I was flumoxed and told my husband not to leave a tip, but he did anyway. He left less than 10% and said ‘She’ll get the message.’ Is it more telling to leave NO tip or a small one?

  85. Kristin says:

    Fran – in my experience, it was much more of a jab to receive 50 cents on a bill than no tip at all. No tip means it’s a good chance they’re uncultured wahoos who don’t eat out often enough to know to tip. A small tip means they know exactly what they’re doing and they didn’t like the service but were too wimpy to speak up about it and attempt to rectify the situation.

  86. paul says:

    If at any time a patron feels like service has been poor [they have been neglected by a server, thus the server does not merit the any tip], the best practice is to speak to management prior to leaving the establishment.

    Leaving a tiny tip without speaking to anyone about the situation is crass.

  87. paul says:

    Laura: You be a hater, yo. If you cannot afford to or will not tip your server, you cannot afford to dine out. Stay home and feed yourself. Refusal to tip means your server actually owes the restaurant money after you leave.

    It is not your place to debate tipping practices and policies at the establishment in question or the wage and labor laws governing servers and other tip-earning positions. As a guest at any establishment it is your place to accept that this is the way the world works and act accordingly. With grace and class.

    Your server is trying to make a living, just like every other human. “Be excellent to each other, dudes.” Bill and Ted had it right.

  88. Murray says:

    Well well. A server in a restaurant is entitled to a tip whether or not he has provided a service above what would normally be expected but a hot dog vendor is not because he may actually own his stall. A waiter might see the logic, but for the life of me, I can’t!

    Laura, I’m with you – Paul I fear your overstatement spoiled any chance of winning the debate.

  89. Anonymous says:

    Fran, why are you assuming that the order your food came out in was your server’s fault? For one thing, you all came in close to the same time, from the way you tell it. The party of 6 got their appetizers before your food bc, in all likelihood, like most apps, they take only a few minutes to be made. The man dining alone may have ordered something that was faster to be made than what you ordered. I can’t tell you how many times someone has gotten mad bc “their food came out first”…yeah, well, they got a salad, and you got a well done filet…go figure. I notice you don’t say the girl was ignoring or neglecting you…while she may have forgotten to place your order, it most likely was a simpler reason as listed above. Once again people…servers don’t make the food, and trust me, we can’t get the cooks to make it faster ( and trust me, you don’t want us to!). Next time you and your hubby wanna “teach someone a lesson”. you may want to be better informed.

  90. Anonymous says:

    p.s NOT dissing the cooks, either…the ones I work with work their butts off…I just thnk people need to remember that a restaurant IS NOT fast food!

  91. paul says:

    Murray: Sorry to have been unclear. I was caught up in addressing some comment about refusing to tip. Snotty people like that bake my cookies.

    The vendor gets a tip from me as well as the barista, the ice cream dipper, and of course… servers at the table. I could easily shop for raw food products and cook them. I could easily dress my own dog. But the vendor serves it up to custom specs. Most tip worthy. Fast food and drive-thru are about the only situations I would not tip.

    What does a hot dog cost… $2? I’d pay with a fiver and he gets the change. I see no advantage in avoiding generosity when the opportunity presents itself.

  92. Booky says:

    I work fast food, and we have a “tip” jar in which we all place the small change in case the customer doesn’t want it. My town is insanely wealthy (I make 12.50 CDN/hour), so if a guy doesn’t want his dollar twenty in change, I have no problem pocketing the loonie and using it to pay for my lunch. The aforementioned tip container rarely sees more than fifty cents at a time, though, as we have a few different charity jars and customers prefer giving to the puppies than their servers. Personally, I don’t blame them.

    Steve… why didn’t you tip the hotdog guy? I’ve read your book and you seem to have become more bitter as you become more famous. I feel like my once-favourite blog is selling out and losing its soul.

  93. Brian says:

    I love this…And it’s everywhere. For some reason this one occasion gets to me. I went to Quizno’s paid by card and left. On the card printoff was a place to leave a tip. Making myself feel obligated to leave a tip… which of course I didn’t.

    It’s not a service… It’s a job description. When I worked at Sonic I advertise nothing and received tips so it’s on it the service.. Not “Here’s your sandwich”. That’s what drivethru is for..

    Waitstaffs has to work to deserve the tip, in a 45 minute interaction, why should someone recieve a tip working for you for only a minute?

  94. Sara says:

    I just found your blog because a friend of mine is reading your book…I love blog-gone-books! Congrats, I hear it’s hillarious and it’s my next read. I can truly appreciate a waiter/writer…especially with some stream of conscientiousness and sarcasm served alongside it!

  95. K J SHENOY says:

    Apart from the tongue-in cheek humour(humor for you), the short sentences make the post quite readable. Are you really a waiter? Cheers.(I am on Blogged –
    From now on I will follow you)

  96. Mr.Ninja says:

    That’s a funny story, My uncle used to run high end restaurants in Montreal and I remember a story he told me one time. A couple came in and spent about 2 hours eating and generally having a good time, when the check came then man laid out the cash and tipped the waiter extremely well. As soon as the guys date turned to leave he reached down and scooped up the tip and dropped a 5.00 on the table and headed out. My Uncle, being the manager, heard the waiter complaining heard the story, grabbed the 5.00 and ran out into the parking lot. When he caught up to the “tipper” he said, hey I think you forgot this and dropped the 5.00 on the ground, turned and told the date what happened, and then informed the guy he was not only cheap but a real prick and was not welcome back. Just curious after reading some of your blog entries if maybe you worked for my uncle!

    🙂 Really enjoy your blog, keep it up!

  97. Caitlin says:

    Why doesn’t the hot dog guy deserve a tip? Most hot dog vendors, etc in big cities either own their own stands/carts or rent out their carts for a daily fee. They bring their own hot dogs, buns, ketchup, and mustard and choose their own prices. It is a personal business. I do not tip hot dog vendors for the same reason it is not considered proper etiquette to tip the owner of a hair salon. As a rule, one never tips the owner of an establishment. The hot dog probably cost the guy 50 cents total, so by charging me 2 dollars a pop the dude is already netting a 300 hundred percent profit. A tip cup on the hot dog stand? Really, go fuck yourself. Let me see that guy eat shit with a smile on his face as a server at any given restaurant in the city and then we’ll see if he actually has the balls to put a tip cup on his hot dog stand.

  98. kymn says:

    i’ve been in and out of food service jobs for a few years now. before my “waiting career,” when parting with my parents’ money, (and especially now) when parting with my own, i’ve always tipped based on effort of service.
    slap mustard on a frank and fork it over – TIP=0%
    slap mustard on a frank, fork it over and put a little spin on it? – TIP=25% (<<25% cuz it’s cheap)

    i’m in the middle of “I Hate Mother’s Day” right now. loving the book. and it’s creepily accurate to boot. with every turn of the page i find myself both chuckling and tearing up with how much i can relate to many of your experiences…

  99. Jon says:

    Maybe waiters should carry a tip cup around so they could see themselves for what they are. In the meantime, I will tip the hot dog guy, and stiff my snooty waiters.

    ps, I just read your book, it was pretty good except for all the typos and the sections about tipping types. What kind of moron would say a 20% tipper is annoying ? I think most waiters are annoying.

  100. Jerome SpokenClass says:

    You know, I always loved the Opening Scene in Resevoir Dogs. I agree with the guy that says we have no obligation to stiff the underachiever who has no other marketable job skills. Let the Owners pay the waiters.

  101. paul says:

    Feeding yourself at home is also something you find annoying, apparently.

  102. Jan says:

    This is a sore subject for me! I feel like my boss ought to tip me for pulling together meeting minutes for him with everyone that I am expected tip. The Subway shop, the soda shop, the sandwich shops, the coffee shops, everywhere has a tip jar now. They are all trying to “get in on it.” Oddly, the kids who carry my groceries to my car, they aren’t allowed to take my tips. But the lady who put 6 ready-made donuts in a bag for me at the donut shop, she expected a tip. After being a waitress and a bartender, this annoys me. I performed a service to people that they were willing to pay for.

    So, my rule: “If they are doing a service, a performance that can be judged that might change the value of the item, then they may receive a tip.” So, all subway sandwiches are the same, so no tip. But if you are delivering an item to me in a friendly and expedited manner, tip.

  103. Steve says:

    Although I feel it is silly that starbucks and the like have tip jars I still throw them some money because being a waiter I believe what goes around comes around and so if I’m generous to others then people will be generous to me.

  104. Jordan says:

    A chapter on the tip jar popping up in inappropriate places might be interesting for your Tip book.

  105. Chris Mollo says:

    I agree with you here, amn. The guy probably owned the hot dog stand and as a small business owner, he shouldn’t be asking for gratuity when he is already profiting on the product. I’ve been in hospitality for 14 years and it’s well known that there are certain jobs where it is expected and appropriate to tip, a hot dog vendor isn’t one of them. Do you tip the order taker in the drive-thru at McDonalds?

  106. Saraj says:

    I think maybe you should try and remember where your success came from. You started by being a waiter and counting on your customers tips to pay your bills. Stop being so cheap and throw the hotdog guy a buck or two! Im sure you can afford it! He atleast did a service for you unlike the bum on the street. Hot dog guy , and starbucks barrista’s do about the same work. You should feel guitly about tipping one and not the other.

  107. Rayna says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just having tip jars sitting out at places like hot dog stands. That way it’s always an option without being aggressive. I will admit that I work the snack bar at a private pool (a good snack bar, I have to say) where we all get paid $10 an hour but still have a tip jar. Seems weird, doesn’t it? Most people don’t tip and we don’t expect them to, but there are some who do and it’s always appreciated. We may be making $10 an hour but we’re all in our 20s, paying rent and bills, worried about money just like anyone else. A lot of the people who work there are trying to make a living off that job, and work hard. The tip jar’s not such a bad thing; it’s very no-pressure.

    One thing I really hate–and I noticed this a few years ago in Boulder, Colorado–is the tip line on receipts when you pay debit at a takeout or ice cream place. They were everywhere in Boulder, at places where I was ordering simple things like soft-serve ice cream or a sandwich. I mean, how hard is it to make a cone of soft-serve ice cream? Those really make me feel obligated to tip, so I always do, even though I don’t really want to. I don’t know why there seems to be more pressure there than with tip jars, but there does.

  108. Scott says:

    I have tipped the local hot dog guy in the past. I guess I appreciated his work ethic as he was standing outside a bar in the freezing cold Canadian winter. I tipped the guy better for a crappy hot dog than most people will tip me at lunch in one of the nicest restaurants in my city tomorrow. I’d better get some sleep I have to be there in 5 hours and it’s going to be a long day.

  109. Scott says:

    Jan – All subway sandwiches are not created equal. I totally disagree with that statement. The person making the sandwich makes all the difference.

  110. jess says:

    i have been a loyal reader for about two years and am a little disappointed in the last several months of posts. There have been a few good ones, but primarily it has all been book signing, needing interviews or announcements about your book. I bought the book, which is a rarity since my local library is great, and loved it, but the blog is what got me hooked in the first place. It used to be the highlight of my week. Now, the person who has talked about tipping and cheap-os forever is now stiffing the hot dog guy. Maybe you need to put an apron on again for a few more weeks and remind yourself of where you came from, cause it seems your going soft.

  111. Anonymous says:

    weird- one place you wouldn’t think you should tip is in “gentlemen’s clubs” heck you already paid $10-$20 to get in and then a whole lot for a drink- but did you know the girls pay the owners for the privilege to work here? that’s the ugly truth- the club owners are getting their $$ every which way

  112. rubes says:

    I think the coffee shop tip is a given. It is an expectation to tip a bartender even for opening a beer. A coffee shop worker is often making complicated, time intensive drinks similar to a cocktail at a bar. Plus they make like 8 bucks an hour. Are you kidding???
    As for the hot dog guy, why not throw some money in, remember, if you can’t afford to eat out, make your own damn food

  113. bruce says:

    Seriously, do you prefer a restaurant kitchen has one door or two? I am designing one and have heard arguments for both.
    I’d like you opinion. Thanks.

  114. Rachel-An Embittered Server says:

    Having been a server for over 14 years I have MANY comments about this blog. One thing though, for all of you whom the tip line on the receipt bothers…The server/counter help has no opinion, option, control over whether there is a tip line on the receipt or not. It is the owners choice and they usually don’t even realize it’s a choice since it is just what their credit card machine spits out. I too usually ignore the tip line unless I can tell the employee is having a bad day or has been genuinely nice without being an idiot or sucking up. Also, Anonymous pointed out the little known or considered fact that in almost every restaurant the waiter has to “tip out” a certain percentage of their total sales on every shift. This means that if you don’t tip or under tip, the waiter indeed has to pay the restaurant for the undoubtedly awesome experience of waiting on your dumb ass. Literally taking money that they would use to fill their gas tanks($60/tank for me right now, and 70 miles round trip to work, or pay their light bills or take their kid to the doctor and you know they don’t have insurance, or their cable so they can keep looking online for a better job, or just to buy their own damn cup of coffee or hot dog and tip their service personnel.) So the next time you don’t want to tip, remember that indeed we make under minimum wage and this means for me $2.13 an hour meaning that even when business is slow, I make a ZERO paycheck since we are taxed on the $2.13/hour and on 100% of our tips so that if you are a decent waiter, you usually end up owing the government at the end of the year. Remember that you are literally sticking your greedy for service little hand INTO MY POCKET and taking MY money OUT. That is called stealing and that is exactly what you are doing. Stealing a service. A service that has been a tipped function of society pretty much across the world for hundreds of years.

    And JON, we should carry around a cup to remind ourselves of what we are? Wow. I personally am an educated person. I have a Bachelors and the equivalent of another. I have worked with people with masters, doctorates and literally a rocket scientist over the years. The one thing that most of us all have in common character wise, is that we don’t look down at the guy working next to us or the lady in the kitchen who makes all your delicious food, because they don’t have any education. The view must be lovely from your high perch.

  115. C. Holmes says:

    The guy with that sign (and MANY others like him) have been fixtures in and around Times Square for decades. They’ve been selling fucking POST CARDS to tourists of homeless people holding signs like that in Times Square for decades. Tip cups for baggers/cashiers in supermarkets in the poorer parts of Manhattan and in every other supermarket in the outer boroughs have also been around for as long as I can remember and I always make sure I have a buck for them if what I buy is over $10. Under, I drop in my coin change. Also, I always tip street food vendors at least a dollar, tip cup or not. I’ve bar tended for a living for most of the 16 years I’ve lived here and for longer before that. I couldn’t imagine doing anything less. Maybe if I had a trust fund to pay my rent or pay the mortgage on a co-op I’d feel differently.

  116. DaniGirl says:

    hell yes Rachel I totally agree that Jon is a jerk. I am going on my 14th year of serving and was very offended with his uneducated comment. I tip my hat to you 🙂

  117. Drake says:

    I just be a horrible person but i dont tip the ppl at starbucks or hot dog vendors.

  118. Patricio says:

    Tip jars and tipping workers who are not either waiters in full-service restaurants or hotel employees is nothing but another way for the employer to shift the wage burden away from themselves and onto the consumer.

    You think that the business owners don’t know how much money their workers make in tips each week? And you think that they don’t adjust the wages accordingly? Maybe some don’t, but I bet a lot do (and btw I’m a business owner myself). Personally, I’m sick of it. I buy a premade, cellophane-wrapped sandwich and grab a Coke, there’s a tip jar waiting for me. I get my bike fixed, there’s a tip jar. I buy flowers for my wife, another tip jar. Some grocery stores have tip jars now for God’s sake. It’s too much.

    I was in Mexico recently and a restaurant that I ate at had 1) a per person surcharge, 2) a mandatory 18% tip added on, AND, 3) an extra line for a tip on top of that. And if you pay with a credit card and don’t add an extra EXTRA tip don’t be surprised if your credit card is used fraudlently the next day.

  119. Mamaw says:

    I feel so silly because I sent you an e-mail with some little question about tipping, before reading further and realizing that you are BIG TIME! Way to go!

    Your blog has been a source of entertainment and education on the service industry the past day or so.

    My husband has been very ill, so laughs around here are few and far between. The only highlights are grandkids visiting, but with school starting, they can’t come over as much. Thank you for keeping me entertained and bringing a much needed smile! You are very talented.

  120. Anonymous says:


  121. Ricky says:

    I found your blog recently, and I find it entertaining, as I’ve also been a waiter.. But I must say, in this post you really do come across as a hypocrite.. The guy at the hot dog stand is “out of line” for having a tip jar, when he prepared AND served your food to you?

    This would make you a hypocrite in and of itself, having served food and lived off tips yourself.. But here’s the real kicker.. See, I started reading your blog backwards.. This is one of the first posts you made 5 years ago.. I’ve linked and copied it..

    “Yeah I put up a tip jar”

    _October 27th, 2004 by Waiter

    _Some of you are looking at that PayPal _donation button and thinking, “Great, another _sellout.”

    _What the hell else did you expect? I’m a _waiter. I live on tips.

    _If you throw me a buck that would be great. _If you don’t that’s fine too. I will keep _writing regardless.

    _If, however, you stiffed a waiter in the past _and feel like you need to balance out your _karma – well let me help you.

    This is just pretty ironic.. Nowadays, after the big book deal, hot dog stand guy is “out of line”.. You say people need to take a stand against tip jars, and wonder what’s next, cashier’s at Wal-Mart? Yet 5 years ago you had one up for writing a blog on the internet, wow..

    I’ll continue reading your blog backwards, cuz I do find it enjoyable, although I feel some of your posts are a blend of fact and fiction.. Hey, nothing wrong with that.. But next time you see a tip jar out, try and think back to yours in the not-so-distant psat..

  122. maura donahue says:

    Really, how easily we forget. Just remember this, you will probably never make up for all the times you have been OVER-tipped if you live to be 100 and eat out every day. The fact that you worked for tips for so long and now have no problem begrudging someone else speaks volumes of your character.

  123. CommanderAmander says:

    I would have to agree with most posts on here.

    I am shocked that you think the hot dog stand guy was ‘out of line’… Really?

    Yet you give a homeless guy money and reason it out why it was a good idea. The simple fact that he was clever earns him a buck, but the guy working his ass off on the street doesn’t even deserve a tip? You gave the homeless guy a whole dollar! A tip for the hot dog guy would only be 25 cents! Also, thank you for contributing to jackass behaviour. People who act like jackasses shouldn’t make money. That’s why the western world is in reality show hell. People that work hard for a living should reap the rewards, not the ones who have screwed up their lives (p.s. I know not all homeless people are screwups, some have mental diseases, that’s not what this is about :->)

    I’m sure you’ll say, ‘but it’s the principle of the situation’. When we stop being part of the working class and get book deals, how quickly our principles change.

    Shame on you. The hot dog guy has the right to a tip jar. Everyone who serves, does a good job and recieves very little wage for it deserves a tip.

  124. ummmm says:

    There is a hotdog cart in midtown where you can get a hotdog AND a water for a total of $2?? Are you sure you didn’t rob this man?

  125. Shawn says:

    Yeah it does seem like everyone has a tip jar out now. If Starbucks still handmade the espresso drinks I would tip, but it’s almost all automatic now. The mom and pop shops though the barista does everything manually, so it’s talent your tipping.

  126. Void says:

    As a former waiter and fast-food cook, I wouldn’t tip the hotdog guy either. He pulled a hotdog out of a vat, put it on a bun, and poured some mustard on it. How is that worth a tip? Working fast food you have to make [x] sandwiches per minute while keeping beef/chicken/fries/onion rings/fish/whatever cooked on top of keeping the kitchen stocked/swept/wiped down, washing dishes and taking trash out, and get no tip. And you recommend he gets a tip just for moving a hotdog a couple of feet? By that logic I should get a tip just for going into work. I’m tired of seeing tip jars at sub places. These sub places don’t get slammed anywhere near as hard as the place I worked fast food at, and they don’t definitely aren’t trying to get your order out in 30 seconds.

    And the homeless guy’s sign was nowhere near original. There’s been pictures of homeless guys with signs like that floating around the internet for years. There’s also several that say “Ninjas killed my family, need money for kung-fu lessons.”

  127. Anonymous says:

    I worked as a To-Go person in a very busy restaurant for over three years. If someone ordered their basic Pita and Hummus i totally didnt expect a tip but when someone orders the whole freaking restaurant and sees me busting my ass to get their order on top of taking phone ins, fax in orders, and walk-ins, and still doesnt leave a tip…i call that rude and cheap. Some, not all, To-Go workers are just as busy as the servers…I think they deserve at LEAST a couple of bucks.

  128. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure why it is a point of pride to deny a measly dollar to a hot dog guy, and then give that dollar to a bum. I mean, I have done similar stupid stuff, but to be proud of it?

  129. Anonymous says:

    WE were shopping in Key WEst a couple years ago and the retail stores on Duval Street had tip jars at the register…hey everyone wants some!

  130. Paul Dirosa says:

    been reading ur site around several days. really love your posts. by the way i’m doing research regarding this issue. do you happen to know any other good blogs or maybe forums in which I might find out more? many thanks.

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  133. Hardik says:

    I guess in this case Steve we can chalk it up to you being really hungry which made you irritable. But if you buy a hot dog for $2.50 odd just give the guy 3 bucks and ask him to keep the change. Keeping small time guys like these open is much more important than having 3 Starbucks on one street and it’s easier if we all chip in a bit.

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