The Change

Today’s pet peeve is about change.  No, not THE change as the title implies.  I’m not talking about menopause.

The change I’m talking about today is the change I would get – or should get – when I order take-out food.  Over the past five years or so, I’ve noticed a big increase in the number of take-out places that A) have a tip jar right at the register where you stand in line to order and receive your food and B) have the number of cashiers that will outright ask, “Do you want your change?”

I was at a Starbucks a few months ago where my sister and I went through the drive-thru.  We each ordered a tall (which is the smallest) hot chocolate.  Our total was around $5, give or take a few cents, and we paid with a $20 bill.  Needless to say when the cashier asked if I wanted my change, I went off on the kid!  I yelled something to the effect of, “Of course I want my change!  I’m not going to give you a 300% tip for passing two cups out a window!  As a matter of fact, I want all my money back!  Now!  You can keep your overpriced hot chocolate!”

While my reaction might seem extreme, I had reached my breaking point of people begging for my money.  When I go to a sit down restaurant, I tip very generously.  In fact, I get embarrassed if I’m dining with someone who’s cheap with the tip.  But as for walk-up counters or drive-thrus, I’m sorry, but the prices are high enough, and I have no intention of tipping anything then.

I live across the street from an outdoor walk-up ice cream store.  It costs roughly $7 there for a single scoop cone.  Yet they still have a tip jar on the counter, and they don’t hesitate to ask if you want your change when you place an order and pay with cash.  My daughter worked there one summer, and my sister and I walked over to see her working.  She was in the back making ice cream, so we ordered from the other girl.  When I declined to let her keep my $3 change from my $10 bill, she went to my daughter to complain about “the cheap bitch” that just left.  My daughter ran like her bed was on fire to tell me about it and go off on me about how much I embarrassed her.  My response?  “Tough!  Tell your friend to get an education so you won’t have to work at a place like that.  If you want tips, go work at a real restaurant where you actually serve and wait on people, then you can expect tips and not have to beg for them.  Then you can report all those tips to the IRS, and you can pay taxes on them as well.”  Needless to say, she was not happy with my answer as well as my message to her friend.

Sonic is another restaurant I now boycott because of their constant haranguing me to allow them to keep my change.  It costs roughly $7.50 for a meal at McDonalds here in Florida.  That’s approximately 43¢ less than our state’s minimum hourly wage.  So figure a person has to work roughly an hour and fifteen minutes at a minimum wage job, picking up dead animal carcasses off the side of the road or putting the blue smelly stuff in port-o-potties, just to net enough money to eat a low quality meal that’s likely not even hot, and then they get harassed by the restaurant’s employees who are doubling as panhandlers begging for cash under the guise of guilting us into thinking we owe them a tip in addition to the cost of the overpriced food!

I think it’s bad enough on the rare occasion when I go to a sit down restaurant and the waiter takes my money and asks if I need any change.  Even if the change is the exact amount I want to leave them, what their statement says to me is, “I don’t want to have to walk back over to your table unnecessarily.  I’ve got better things to do.”  Also, if perhaps the tip I was going to leave was $5, and they asked that question when my change would have been $8, it now makes me feel like they think I’m cheap if I ask for my change, even if the $5 tip I would have left was well over 20%.

The very word TIPS is an acronym for To Insure Prompt (or Proper) Service.  And I’m sorry, but I don’t feel that it is proper service to solicit tips when I have to go to the counter, stand in a line, wait for my food or beverage, wait for the cashier to get off their cellphone, wait for the person in the back to stop joking around with someone else, and actually get my order placed in a bag, and then have the cashier fail to even greet me or thank me for my business.

A tip is also like a gift.  It is in addition to the cost of the item, and it is at my discretion how much I choose to leave, if anything.  And I, for one, will always leave a much larger tip if the person I’m tipping refrains from asking about it.

Okay, will someone help me down off my soapbox for today?

Let’s talk:  Have you ever encountered a cashier who asks if you want to keep your change?  When you go to a restaurant, do you calculate your tip to the suggested 15-20% guideline, or do you just leave a standard flat amount or round up the bill to the nearest $5 or $10?


46 thoughts on “The Change

  1. Another eye opener for one on the other side of the pond. None of that happens here – I have never been asked if I want my change! Bad manners to ask and all that. In a restaurant however I do tip although generally the size of the tip depends on how much wine I have consumed. Also the bloke with the beard in your picture looks very much like Rolf Harris a once much loved entertainer yet, as of a few days ago is now serving a prison sentence – his crime? A sexual predator on young, often very young girls. I imagine in jail he will be getting a few tips!

    • I think it’s probably even different in different states here as well. When I lived in New York, for years, I never even saw one panhandler. Here in Florida the only time I don’t see someone begging for money at red lights in when I don’t leave my house. Seriously. Rolf Harris is Colonel Sanders doppelganger? Yikes!

      • Check out Rolf’s picture and you’ll never eat fried chicken again! Also is it true that in the States you get those people at traffic lights who rush up to wash your car? If true do your get scantily clad/topless girls doing such work. I only say this as George and I were discussing the matter as one of his friends told him this was the case.

      • LOL! Thankfully, I don’t eat meat anyway, so I don’t need to worry. 🙂 You do get a bit of the window washing in larger cities, but more often than that, you just see people standing with a sign that says “Will work for food” although they won’t really work and they don’t want food, they want cash. They walk right up to your car and beat on the window at red lights. Sometimes I give them money and sometimes food. I like when I see them actually stop and eat the food, but it makes me mad when I see them throw it down and keep trying for cash. One guy I’ve seen for years under the same bridge has a very large eagle tattooed across his face! I refuse to give him a dime because he ruined his face so no one would hire him so that was his choice.

        As for scantily clad/topless girls, down here (Florida), that’s more for the hotdog carts on the side of the road. It used to be real popular for them to wear tiny bikinis with thong bottoms and sell hotdogs from carts, but then a couple of counties complained because the semi-nudity offended parents, so they made the women wear regular bikini bottoms. Of course there are still a ton of topless and nude beaches. And depending on which one you go to, some of them are geared toward young people and some of them are for the very old.

      • Please God no (and there’s me an atheist) not old people on a nude beach. That’s just wrong! Year ago when we had just moved to Devon we took Skipper the Bastard Border Collie (now snuffed it sadly) on to a beautiful long beach on a cold winter’s day for a walk. I had my very best camera with me intending to take some shots of the big waves. However we soon discovered it was a nudist beach for just as I was aiming the camera to catch the waves breaking on the beach an enormous naked (my God she must have been so very cold) German lady thinking I was taking a shot of her called me a disgusting pervert! Afterwards as we walked away at a pace I spotted her husband, hands on hips glaring at us. In his nude condition I noticed – or rather Shirley did first – the ‘cold’ had plainly got to his nether regions. All we wanted was a regular dog walk!

      • Bwaaahaahahaaaaaa!!! Yeah, well, you know, being in the sun too long ages people’s skin anyway, and when they move here and retire, then get naked and go bake in the sun daily (keeping in mind we are pretty close to the equator here), their old skin looks like brown wrinkled leather. And then they insist on wearing speedos, thongs or nothing when they go to the beach. And they seriously look to be over 75 or 80 easily. And sometimes – – like with the German husband you describe — things happen and you can’t help but look and then you feel bad because they are someone’s great-grandparents. And then you can’t hardly tell your kids they should’t get tattooed or pierced all over so that they won’t be old grandparents with mutilated bodies when they see what the old-timers are really doing. I don’t know. Call me a prude, but when your boobs (or your husband’s boobs) get down to your knees, they need to be in a bra.

  2. I’m loving your blog so much this month. This one never really occurred to me, but I agree. I’m one who adjusts the tip depending upon the service. It can go up or down. I also don’t believe certain places deserve tips, like fast food restaurants.

  3. Yep, begging in all its forms (except perhaps, necessity) is repulsive, and asking if you can keep my change is one of the worst, asking simply guarantees that, no, you cannot. Your comment to your daughter is exactly on point.

    My normal response is to tell people, “Don’t plant corn in January.”

    OK, come on, I’ll help you down now and don’t we both feel better. 🙂

  4. I’ve worked fast food and never got tips. This was back in the Stone Age before tip jars, of course. If a server isn’t actually cooking anything AND they give bad service for wretched food, well, they don’t deserve anything extra, IMHO.

    A little over a year ago I was working at an ice cream shop for minimum wage. It was the only job I could find in a Tourist Town. I am educated, intelligent and well qualified for other jobs. I could not find any other work and was raised to take any job to make ends meet.

    This particular shop did have a tip jar, but none of us ever asked customers if they wanted their change. I worked very hard for tips, giving the best service possible (even to the assholes) and entertaining the customers any way I could think of. In my mind I called it Tap Dancing for Tips and I was damned good at earning that little extra.

    Sometimes that tip means a lot to the server. The job sucks. The hours are long and people are rude in ways you just can’t believe – ask me about the guy who commanded me to watch his daughter while he fouled up my clean bathroom. He didn’t tip and I’ll admit I wished some very unpleasant skin conditions upon him…

    All that to say that tipping is situational in my book – the gals at the Big Town Hero get a buck because they are unfailingly polite while making up my special sandwich, but the Thai place gets nothing because, while their food is great, they are rude.

  5. I recently started at a minimum wage fast food job. Not because I’m not educated, and not because I’m too lazy to go to school. I’m heading into my sophomore year of college as an international studies major focusing on Chinese. That is not easy. It’s stressful and takes a lot of work. The reason I’m working at a minimum wage fast food job is because no one else will hire me. I sent in over 50 applications and only one did anything for me.

    At a fast food corporation, we are not allowed to accept tips. Dairy Queen is different, but at Sonic, Burger King, and McDonalds? When they ask if you want your change it’s not to keep themselves. They have to keep it in the cash register or they’ll get fired. Working the cash register, I’ve had many people just flat out tell me they don’t want the change. After a while it gets easier just to ask if they want it instead of having to mess with the ridiculous cash register that has so many bugs it often deletes orders for no reason.

    They are not begging for money. Maybe the one who called you a selfish bitch, but working fast food and customer service is not easy. I have been yelled at by so many self entitled people who think that they walk on water because they didn’t tell me they wanted this or that and so we served them what they asked for. One person reported me to my manager because he claimed I took his order completely wrong, even though I read it back to him to be sure. I work my ass off serving people, only to get yelled at and bitched about later.

    One kind gentleman did give me a tip after he saw someone yell at me for five minutes because we were out of ice(my manager was missing). If the company found out, I’d have no job. I almost declined it, but he insisted and refused to take it back.

    Just telling you what it’s like from the other side. Have a wonderful day.


    • Yes, I can definitely see the other side of things. I also worked fast food when I was out of high school, but back then we’d have been fired if our drawer was short OR over by more than $1.00. I can maybe even see asking about my change if it’s a few cents… If my total was $4.87 and I gave them a $5 bill. But quite often I actually get asked when I pay with a ten or twenty, i,e, my Starbucks example. Thanks for weighing in on this. 🙂

  6. I can’t believe people are asking you if you want to keep your change. I’ve seen plenty of tip jars, but I’ve never encountered a server asking me if I want my change back. That takes some gall.

  7. Nearly as irritating is when someone gives you change and it’s not correct! I’ve even embarrassed a couple of people when I went back and said, “Excuse me, the change is incorrect; you gave me too much change in return!” Some of them even told me that I should’ve kept it rather than making them “look bad” in front of the entire store/restaurant. I’m keeping your employer from going bankrupt; the least you can do is to thank me and learn some math!

  8. Great blog : ) As an ex caterer I only tip if the service and food is good.

    Also here in the UK in Pizza express the waiter/ waitress is only allowed to “keep the change.” If you walk away from the table leaving the change on the table. You are not allowed to hand it to them, and they are not allowed to ask for it. Its the company’s policy. I only now this because me and girlfriend had a 10 minute chat with the waiter.

    Looking forward to your next blog : )


  9. Great peeve Rachel. I agree with you. Life was better in the days before fast food places started believing they were the next level in the great American Cavalcade of consumer paying fair wages instead of employer paying fair wages.

    I know the cost of living keeps rising. I have raised my tipping percentage from 15 to 20 for outstanding service, accordingly, at sit-down restaurants. Fair to average service still gets 15 percent. Poor service, less than 15, depending upon how poor. Awful gets zero, indeed.

    At take-out places, if the counter service is terrific and there’s a tip jar, I will throw in what I think the worker has earned for the effort, graciousness, respect, human touch. I won’t hand over change just because somebody asks for it. And, you know what? The people that give great counter service are not the ones that ask if you want the change. It’s the ones that are average to worse that ask. My answer is always, yes, thank you, I do want my change. No guilt.

    Finally, my wordsmith friend Rachel. TIPS. I do not believe it stands for those four words, because, they would be: To Ensure Proper (or Prompt) Service. Or, possibly, To Assure. Definitely not, though, to Insure. So it would be TEPS or TAPS. I think tips may have evolved from the money being offered “on top” of the fee, the tip of the payment, the cherry on top. Just guessing, mind you.

    Great post. I love this pet peeve month!

    • I know certain people who will only tip $1 per person, no matter where they are. They say the waiter/waitress chose that job, no one made them take it. I personally think that’s a bit harsh and I get embarrassed when I eat with them. (I always try to sneak an extra tip to the wait staff when this happens.)

      And I agree with you…I believe Ensure should be spelled with an “E.” But I didn’t write the rule, I only repeated it. LOL! (Maybe that should be my next pet peeve… words that are not spelled according to my standards. LOL!)

      Thank you for your input! I like the way you work. 🙂 Since you enjoy my theme, if you want to mail me a tip, you can address it to…. 😉 LOL!

  10. I’m a very generous tipper at restaurants, and I do occasionally feel guilty when I order take out and don’t leave a tip, but seriously… at a fast-food place? I can’t even call them restaurants… They’re really not. They’re just a poorly run, poor quality food station. I’d rather go into a market and pick something up that’s just as tasty, and they won’t ask for tips! I share your pet peeve.

    • LOL! Yeah, I’ll also even tip if I order a pizza for delivery, even though they charge me an extra delivery charge nowadays. But when I pick the food up from anywhere, even if it’s a mid-grade restaurant’s curbside service, I don’t think a tip is in order just to have them prepare the food. If they wait on my table, even at a crummy diner, I do tip, but if I go to a counter or drive-thru, I don’t. 🙂

  11. I completely understand this pet peeve. I have actually never been asked if I want my change back at some of the places mentioned but the tip jars do bug me as well. I worked as a waitress for 9 years, throughout high school and college and only quit because I couldn’t deal with management anymore. As someone who has worked at a job where you actually have to serve people and deal with all that comes with that, I believe those are the ones who deserve a tip. Not only do you have to cater to some very difficult people but you are only actually getting paid like $3.92 an hour (or close to that, it may have changed recently). So tips are the only way you actually make any money as a waitress. (And also as a waitress it is a rule that many know to never assume the money left over is yours. You always say you will bring back the change. We never ever assumed we got anything from a table, because we were taught that was rude)
    At fast food you are getting paid minimum wage (which yes is extremely difficult to live off of) but you are actually getting paid a real amount.Servers aren’t. So yeah when I see those tip jars I just pass my eyes over them. Because as someone who had to work her butt off every single shift to make sure I got tipped enough to live off of, I can’t sympathize with those folks unfortunately.
    And if anyone ever asked me if I wanted my change because they expected a tip I would probably have a few words they won’t appreciate hearing as well.
    Liked this article, very well said

  12. Great topic! I usually give the standard 10-15 percent. Luckily I have not come across employees who ask if I want change, when the change is significant. I think it is rude to ask–they should always give the change back and leave it up to the customer if they want to give a tip 🙂

  13. I tip 20% at restaurants. I have a real dislike of the ubiquitous tip jar showing up at fast food and Starbucks’ shops. I have even seen them at snowball stands. It s annoying.

  14. 20% at restaurants. 10% at buffets or places where preparation is more complicated/personal. I wonder who really gets the money from those tip jars. I guess I have heard that question, but I guess I have always said…yes…in response. I would rather be the one who says….”you don’t need to give me change.”

  15. I generally tip twenty percent IN-Real-Restaurants.
    Fast food? Oh hell no!
    Someone ever asks me if I want my change from a twenty-spot on a five dollar tab, well, I will introduce them to the attitude I used to keep leashed up when I was trying ever-so-hard to become a Navy SEAL.
    Then, stand by for heavy rolls as this ship comes about and the shit hits their fan… in their grill.
    Great post Friend. I loved it and loved all the comments.

  16. I found this page by googling “do you want your change?”. Because here lately, I haven been getting asked this everywhere, and it is starting to piss me off. Especially after a particular experience at Taco Bell.
    The total was $14.90, and I gave the girl at the drive thru $15.00. I sat and waited for my change and receipt, and when she came back to the window, she didn’t have it. So I asked her, can I have my change? She said “I gave it to you”. I said “no, you didn’t”. So she is talking behind her shoulder to someone, and finally hands me the change and says with a snarky tone in her voice “it’s only 10 cents”. That really ticked me off. Either se forgot my change, and thought I was the forgetful one, or she wanted my 10 cents Either way, I don’t like being made to feel like a cheap skate just because I want my change.
    After this, I have been asked at Little Caesar’s, Dairy Queen, and a grocery store if I want my change. I am starting to wonder if places of business are instructing their employees to ask this question. Because I’m pretty sure that most of them are not even allowed to take tips. These cooperations are already making millions of dollars, and think how much additional money they are making by trying to keep the change of everyone. It will add up, believe me. Maybe they are too butt-hurt over the Affordable Care Act or something, and they are trying to get more money, I don’t know. I don’t know or care what their problems are lately, but HELL YES, I WANT MY DAMN CHANGE!!!

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