My boyfriend and mother don't tip meals in the car.
As someone who works in the food industry, I know what it feels like to be insulted. That's why I always try to tip generously whenever I think our server deserves it.
When I tell them that it is rude not to tip, my friend replies, "You don't actually do anything. You just go to our car. If we were served at a table, it would be different," and my mother "I can't afford it" begins with the argument: "If you can't afford to tip, why are you eating out at all?"
It always ends with an exciting meal. I know if someone else pays my bill, I should shut up, but still.
I know the type of conversations my employees have about people who do not tip and it hurts to think that they are talking about people I love so much.
I offer to leave the tip, but they shoot me down. Should I let it go? What is the correct protocol to tip the waitress in the Carside service? Is there one?
I don't think the "Hey everyone at Applebee thinks you're a cheap skater if you don't tip" approach will convince your mother or boyfriend.
But mostly I'm in your camp. Hand delivering a meal to a customer in his car is nothing. Sure, it's relatively little work compared to what a server does when it's waiting for you to sit down. Therefore, he certainly doesn't deserve the 20% standard tip for restaurants. A few dollars seems appropriate. I also think that when dining in a restaurant, it is best to stand aside to overtake the hardworking people whose livelihood depends on tips.
But that's just my opinion: Tipping for take-away orders is a gray area, so I'm willing to give your boyfriend and mother the benefit of the doubt about this. I don't think they deliberately "abuse" anyone. You only choose to save money in a way that, whether you like it or not, is socially acceptable.
You already know how you feel about this. If you haven't explained things from the server, I'll give you another chance to explain them based on your insider knowledge from the food industry. For example, you can tell them that you are compensating the server for the time they may need to wait for these (better paid) dine-in customers.
If that doesn't affect them, I think it's time to stop arguing, especially since they're paying for these meals.
The good news is that there is a fairly simple solution here – and it's not about condemning yourself to a life full of tense take-away dishes.
Have a few dollar bills ready. The next time you place an order on the side of the road, don't just offer to pay the tip. Wait until the server arrives at the car with your meal in hand. If your friend or mother pays the bill, just say "I have the tip." Then contact the server directly to thank them for the amount you consider appropriate. Also thank the one who paid the bill for the meal.
You can try this once and measure their reactions. If you agree to transfer cash directly to the server, then voila. Simple solution. However, if this leads to further arguments, it is time to drop it. You give up much of your bargaining power when someone else pays the bill.
Regardless, you probably won't inspire them to drink all of the takeaway meals that they order themselves. Yes, empty-handed servers can mumble ugly things when people you love take their takeaway food away. But you have to make peace with that.
If people got Yelp reviews, very few of us would always earn five stars. We all have to accept that people behind our backs say some not so nice things about us.
Worrying about what people are saying about you is a big enough energy sucker. But worrying about what people are saying about other people in your life? When you do that, you run out of energy.
Take the emotions out of this problem. Then go ahead and enjoy these takeaway meals the way a real takeaway meal should be – with a Netflix binge and the beverage of your choice, not with a tip debate.
Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and the voice behind Dear Penny. Send your questions about saving money to [email protected]
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
Data Protection Policy