One area where I have a hard time knowing what to tip, however, is in the area of take-out. Tipping expert Steve Dublanica (who writes for a favorite blog of mine, Waiter Rant) believes that take-out orders should automatically receive a 10% tip. This amount is a little hard to swallow (no pun intended).
For me, when I tip, I am paying for the service. As such, I have something of a chip on my shoulder when I go to, say, a sandwich place, pay for my food with my debit card, and then see a line for a tip on the receipt.* While my bleeding-heart thinks that minimum wage is not enough to live on in California, and that I should therefore be more generous, my fiscal conservative brain thinks that a growing entitlement culture is imposing its will upon me. If there is a line for a tip, then what is being implied is that tipping at this restaurant is the norm, and if I do not tip, then I face the scrutinizing and disdainful gaze of the cashier.
So, as you can see, I’m a little torn.
As a quick Google search attests, opinions on tipping differ across the internet. Here are a couple of rules of thumb that I use.
1) I cannot think of a time when I tip a percentage of the total bill on take-out.
2) If I take out food from a restaurant frequently, I may leave a dollar or two.
3) If the restaurant offers curbside take-out (e.g., the server must exit and return to the restaurant multiple times in order to bring the bill and food to me in my car), I usually leave two or three bucks.
4) If the food is preparation intensive (like sushi), I try to leave the chefs a couple of bucks.
5) If it’s a drive-thru, I almost never tip, unless I go there frequently.
How about you? Do you tip for take-out? Am I an oaf for begrudging take-out workers a couple of bucks? Leave me a comment and let me know.
*One restaurant that my wife and I semi-frequently get take-out from is Pei Wei (which is the fast food branch of P.F. Chang’s). I am consistently pleased that Pei Wei does not have a line for tip on the receipt, and so I never feel badly about not leaving one.