Wednesday, November 5, 2008


In American culture, tips are tipically* used in restaurant settings in order to allow the restaurateur to pay his or her people less, saving on costs, and allowing her or him to transfer those employment costs to you without you realizing it when you're deciding what to purchase.

It follows the same basic principle as sales tax. Most people are incapable of adding simple figures. For example, a man recently mentioned to myself and a friend how he had moved to this area at the age of 26, and eight years later, he was still here. I was aghast that he was 32, as he looked much younger than that. I will not delve into the amount of laughter to which I was then subjected.

I digress. Sales tax is basically impossible to compute by the average person. If you are reading this, laughing, because you can calculate sales tax in your head, I in no way desire to associate with you, and furthermore, I will bonk you on the head at my earliest convenience. Secondly, if you're still laughing over my 34/32 mistake above, I will bonk you on the head twenty six plus eight times. If I'm able to count to that number.

Politicians figured this out a long time ago, and instead of making sales tax a nice round figure (caution: never use that term to describe a woman) like 1%, or 5%, or 10%, they make it figures like 6.25%, or 8.15%. I mean, seriously, who can calculate 6.25%?

I normally start with the whole amount.

$34.32. Okay.

I repeat that a few times in my head.

$34.32. $34.32. Okay. Let's divide $34.32 by ten.

Visualize the decimal moving over a place. Okay. $3.43. GAHHH, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TRAILING 2??? Do I need to keep track of that?

Focus, Chris, focus. $3.43. Divide that by two.


Deep breaths. Deep breaths. 14 divided by 2 is 7, so that's $1.71.

Okay. $1.71. Deep breaths. Now we just need to figure out 1.25%.


Actually, I normally don't hear the cashier getting annoyed because I'm still in my math place, trying to physically move decimal places around.

So stores like this technique, because it makes it seem like you're getting something cheaper than you actually are, and they know we're all too dumb to figure out what the real price is.

WARNING: People will laugh at you if you're using a calculator in the store to add up your expenses. I know, it's unjust, and these are the same people making fun of you for winning the spelling bee, but they also can beat you up and their kids can beat your kids up, and their kids can beat you
and several marines along with a dozen or so pit bulls and/or wild geese up, so please just don't pull out the calculator in the store.

In any event, restauranteurs have followed the same path. They've made it socially unacceptable to not give tips, and so they're able to make their prices seem smaller than they really are, because if I can't do math by myself in a store with nobody around, I DEFINITELY can't do math on a date while trying to appear both witty and intelligent at the same time, and not spill any sort of large item on myself.

However, the absolute worst is when you arrive at a cafe of some nature, which is not a sit-down restaurant, but you're just getting your food to go, and the cashier smugly prints off your receipt and asks you to sign, with a line for tip added in! GAH! The injustice! What ever is to be done? What will people think if I don't add a tip? Why should I add a tip, though, they've provided me no service!

At this point, you should calmly put your hands in your pockets, stick your head down, and run out of the establishment before you wet your pants from your anxiety attack.

And if you don't like that strategy? Man, I don't know what to tell you. That's as far as I've ever gotten in those situations.

*I know, I know, my desire to pun supersedes all other desires, including the desire to spell correctly, as well as the desire to not look like an idiot for making such a miserable joke


Jerkolas said...

You could come to WA. No sales tax here on food items at least. Restaurants still expect tips though. Jerks.

MommaMcCarthy said...

to go = no tip

i give you permission