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Why do counter workers put out tip jars?

What’s with all the tip jars at Dunkin’ Donuts and other coffee shops? I realize the workers there are probably not paid very well, but to pay $2.31 for a cup of coffee and then have to tip the person who simply poured it into a cup for me seems a bit extreme.

Rich, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 32, City : Boston, State : MA, Country : United States, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 8887

(Note: We talked about tipping in general with an expert in our Dare To Ask column here.)


Tipping is a custom that is often abused – especially by employers. It does create a better atmosphere – usually – because it encourages the workers to be helpful. In any case, they have no choice since the employer could charge more and pay them more. Also it is a way of creating tax free income for some. Personally I have never been comfortable with the custom, but many people seem to like the idea. Maybe it gives them a sense of power that they can tip – or not.

Joshua, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Humanist, Age : 60+, City : College Park, State : MD, Country : United States, Occupation : teacher, Education level : Over 4 Years of College

I’m an American living in Germany. Tipping is influenced by culture. In Paris, for example, I was told that one does not tip for drinks. That means that one can sit down at a cafe for an hour and not feel obligated to tip. In fact, I believe tipping in those situations is actually insulting to some people. I agree with those people who are insulted because that is how I felt when I received my first tip for doing nothing. I had to get over it real fast because I was working in a restaurant! At $2.01 an hour, you learn take the tips. No, I’m not a retiree; I’m 30. This is a topic that I think about often because I am in Europe. One realizes the extent to which Americans are culturally driven to tip. It’s a deeply internalized impulse that I have to consciously check. Conspicuous money handling is much more distasteful to the average European than the average American. So, next time you see that tip jar at the cash register, remember the postcard photo I once saw. Seems like another world, but it was circa 1934 and featured a working-class type holding a placard that read, ‘Tipping is UN-American.’ From my perspective, tipping is oh-so-American.

Alan, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation: Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 30, City : Frankfurt, State : NA, Country : Germany, Occupation : IT, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class

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* Accompanying blog images are for generic, illustrative purposes only, and may be stock or submitted photos. Models depicted are not connected to subject matter.

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