The Gray Area of Proper Etiquette










Recently I ordered some take out and went to the restaurant to pick it up. Everything was going great. The person working the counter handed me my food and then ran my credit card and handed me the receipt to sign. I signed it and handed it back to them. Then things got weird. The employee’s demeanor completely changed. I immediately felt it but I was not sure what had happened. I just took my take out and was on my way. But in the back of my mind I had a good idea what the problem was. The employee was upset because I did not leave a tip. If that was the case, I started to feel a little awkward. I am not always confident that I know the right and polite thing to do in situations like tipping for a service. But all I did was pick up my take out. All the person working the counter did was ring up my food. Should I have given a tip for that?

Well, I sought out some advice from others and they agreed that they would not have tipped in that situation. So I felt a little more confident that I knew the right situations for tipping. But then I thought about the employee I encountered and the restaurant I picked up the food from. Did the restaurant expect me to tip for carry out orders, or did the employee just have high expectations? I do not mind tipping, but I will only tip when the occasion calls for it. If a restaurant wants me to tip for every service they provide, I would.  But I need to know what is expected of me! Everyone has their own set of expectations; it is hard to keep track! The policy of tipping needs to be clear. I realize that some people are paid less than minimum wage and are living on tips. Cashiers at restaurants and waiters have different job responsibilities. I do not want to offend anyone, but having been a cashier myself, I would not think that a cashier could
be dependent on tips. Hence my confusion.

If you read my blogs regularly, you know I talk about my experiences in Australia from time to time. In Australia, they do not tip. Tips are built into their minimum wage, which
is partially why their minimum wage is so high ($15.00/hour). I loved not having to worry about tipping while I was there not because I do not like giving tips, but because then I did not have to worry about meeting every individual’s expectations. Most areas of etiquette are pretty black and white. I feel like tipping had such a gray area. That is because there are so many different rules, customs and standards for tipping in the world and among individuals. How can we keep up?

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