I think I’ve gotten over this whole tipping thing. I used to think it was a great idea, rewarding someone for a job well done and not quite rewarding them when they forgot your seventh martini. (Yeah, she said I only ordered six, but who ya gonna believe here????)
It all seemed very free-enterprise-ish, with scrappy young workers scrambling to earn their pay and beneficent patrons rewarding them with ample largesse. (Fun fact: Ample Largesse is from the Latin for big butt and it referred to British lords who sat at the club and complained about the work ethic among the servants who fetched their cigars.)
Anyway, I thought of tipping as a much better approach to compensation than simply including everything in the overall cost of my purchase, but I’m beginning to come around to the idea that tipping is really, really stupid.
First, this is a dumb way for people to earn a living. So much of any worker’s compensation is in limbo until it’s too late to change anything, and many cheap bastards don’t tip at all. Meanwhile, the rest of us are assessed according to the final price, rather than the actual work involved in providing the service. But why tie it to prices at all? It takes no more effort to bring me a $25 glass of wine than a $5 beer, but the wine calls for five times the tip.
And it gets very awkward when the service is so bad that I’m only leaving a symbolic $1.00, because the waiter might show up with a point-of-purchase device to ring me up in person. It was easier when I could just write down the tip on the receipt and run out the door, but now I have to enter the amount while the really bad server is watching me.
Second, nobody can explain which people should get tipped and which ones should just work for wages. I understand tipping the waiter who brings me my meal in a restaurant, but now I’m supposed to tip the cashier who took my order at the takeout counter, as well. Does that mean I’m supposed to tip the cashier at the drug store? Why am I tipping the woman who brings me a slab of ribs, but not the butcher who does the same? Neither cooks it, but one gets paid.
If things keep going the way they are, I’ll need to tip the bus driver for letting me off at my stop and the screener who pats me down at the airport. If I need surgery, I’ll be tipping the anesthesiologist, in advance, in hopes she’ll remember the antidote. (Fun fact: TIP is actually an acronym for To Inhale Post-surgery.)
It will only get worse as AI takes over more of the jobs now handled by people, because AI is both very smart and very, very amoral. The robot arm that delivers my coffee will spill it if my tip isn’t generous enough and I’ll need to swipe my credit card if I don’t want the elevator to stop between floors. My self-driving ride-share will keep the doors locked until I cough up my ransom and the slot machine at the casino will demand its vig if I ever want to see another cherry. Worst of all, the robots will eventually decide how much they need and simply transfer it from my account to theirs.
The only way to stop this disaster is to tip everyone with cash. It won’t fix the mess we've already created, but it might convince the robots that there’s no money to be made by demanding tips. If there are no extra payments showing in the databases, we can trick our future masters into phasing out tipping forever.
We can only hope.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.