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Opinion

Here’s a tip

Dispatches from America these days tend to be either soaked in tragedy or soaked in Trump, which means they’re soaked in the same thing.

Still, you can’t forget those of us who haven’t been shot, aren’t high on heroin, or have not just become the newest member of President Donald Trump’s whack-a-mole White House staff. We’re still trying to make a living, and a damn skinny living it is most days.

Up in Massachusetts, where the politicians talk funny, and won’t let mentally disturbed people buy a howitzer, the state legislature is taking up the matter of tipping in coffee shops. At issue is who gets access to the tip jar. In the past, the legislators have said that managers don’t get to split tips, just the employees.

Trouble is, though the employees damn sure know it, no one can figure out what a manager is and is not. If you are the one who opens the place in the morning, but you still have to wait on people, are you a manager? If you train other employees, or count the cash at night, but you still have to make bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel, are you a manager? This is why young people decide to sell drugs instead of working in a coffee shop.

I tip in coffee shops, even at the drive-thru.

I don’t tip to show my solidarity with the working class. I tip because, if I don’t tip, I hear my dead father’s voice.

“What are you, cheap?” the voice says. “Throw her half a buck.”

So, I do. I always did what Pop told me when he was alive. There’s no reason I should stop just because he’s been laying up at St. Patrick’s Cemetery for 30 years. Hell, I tipped the priest who prayed over Pop’s fresh grave.

When I was a kid, Pop was a bartender, and not in a very nice place, either. I remember the bar whiskey was a half a buck a shot. Pop used to come home late and he’d dump his tip money on the coffee table in the living room, so my mother could take what she wanted in the morning. At a half a buck a shot, very little of Pop’s tips came in the form of paper money. Instead, half the coffee table would be covered by a big pool of nickels, dimes and quarters, enough to buy one man for one night, for years.

Everyone who has ever done anything for a living knows what’s causing the coffee shop tip problem. The company or individual who owns the shop wants what they call a “working manager,” which means you have managerial responsibilities sometimes, but you’re also expected to make sandwiches, and coffee, and work the register. That’s two jobs for the price of one, so the people who own the company get a bonus, and the manager/nonmanager continues to have access to the tip jar because her “promotion” didn’t come with an increase in pay.

Sometimes the employees (those ungrateful scoundrels) sue the coffee shop over having to split their tips with managers. To avoid this, many coffee shops in my area have a sign next to the register that says, “NO TIPPING.” This solves the problem by taking more money from the workers.

As always, you have the constitutional right to own as many guns as you can afford. If you are shot and killed, you have the cultural right to a candlelight vigil. Other than that, you have no rights at all, not when you’re on the clock.

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