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When is it OK Not to Tip? (For Me -- Not Larry David): EDITOR'S COLUMN

At what point is a gratuity optional?

I have this problem. 

I frequent on Seventh Avenue. I usually order the food to go and eat at my home office, where half the pizza either winds up on my face or on my carpet.

But when I go there I'm confronted with a social quandary I've faced many times in my life: Should I leave a tip on my credit card receipt for take-out?

Though the specifics of tipping have been dealt with many times in shows by writer/producer/actor Larry David, both in his show Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld, take-out tipping has never been addressed.

So, here's what I do: I usually don't tip.

Because I have shame, though, unlike the aforementioned television characters, I feel a child-like sense of guilt if I do not leave a tip where a tip is requested. In fact, it's eating me up inside.

It activates my nimble neuroses: Does the cashier hate me? Does she dread seeing my face? When she's scooping two slices of pepperoni pizza into the Styrofoam box, is she masking frustration with her seemingly genuine smile? Probably not, but how can I know for sure?

And it's not like I'm upset for them putting the option to tip on a receipt, but it's my understanding that the rules of tipping prescribe tips when I am waited on. Since I was not necessarily waited on, I feel as though a tip is optional.

But, again, I'm not so confident in that anymore. After weeks and weeks of pizza slices, I'm starting to feel obligated to leave at least something every once in a while.

So I'm asking your opinion. What would you do in this situation? Do you leave a tip when you get take-out?

Megan VerHelst April 05, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I've been a waitress in several locations and very rarely was I ever tipped on carryout orders. If I received one, it was a pleasant surprise but not something I came to expect. In theory, I would assume a lot of waitstaff thinks the same way. And in reality, for the most part, the food literally goes from the kitchen to the counter, so there's very little work done for which you SHOULD be expected to tip. That's just me, though... :)
Rachel Morey Flynn April 05, 2012 at 01:42 PM
no tipping for carry out. but you'd better tip your waitress 15-20% in CASH every time you sit down to eat in a restaurant. and if they are working on a holiday, it's not because they love their job. so tip MORE. i waited tables for about two months and it nearly killed me. and that was 20 years ago. in memory of that terrible time, i beg you. 15-20% in cash. (but not for carry out)
Scott Raynor (Editor) April 05, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Rest assured, I'm a good tipper otherwise. I'm always in the 15-20% range. You've calmed my fears on the carry out order, but is there ever a reason to tip for carry-out?
Todd Richissin April 05, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Rachel: Why cash? Why not just add it to the credit card bill?
Rachel Morey Flynn April 05, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I like to think that the person who waits on me gets to keep the tip I leave. I feel better about handing them cash than putting it on a card, where it probably has to pass through her boss, the government, and (again, depends on the place) she may have to wait weeks for it.
Rachel Morey Flynn April 05, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I've never left a tip for carry-out. Once in awhile, I'm in a place that has a little tip jar by the register. I usually throw a buck or two in there, or at least the change I get back from my order. But to put a tip on a credit card receipt for take-out? No. I think it's OK to stop worrying about it.

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