031208-0153-tippingetiq1.jpgThe reasons for tipping in restaurants are pretty straightforward—servers make their living entirely on tips. But what about people who are otherwise paid a standard wage? Is the mere act of doing something for another person eligible for a gratuity?

To help answer this, let’s examine something else very near and dear to my heart: Blogging. You might see a tenuous comparison at best, but bear in mind—a great many blogs are written in coffee shops. Considering the amount of time that goes into researching, writing and publishing posts, should bloggers be compensated by their readers? Or at least given gift cards for additional lattes?

Tipping is something we think we understand but when you examine it, it’s not so clear. Is serving a cup of coffee any more worthy of monetary appreciation than writing a blog post?

I find it a bit awkward to ask for tips so please, put your money away. But if I get a dollar in a cup or a dollar from Adsense, isn’t a buck still just a buck? Like servers, many professional bloggers don’t earn regular salaries and depend on the advertising traffic of their readers for support.

There’s more to the act of handing over money than simple compensation; it means different things depending on how, why and to whom it’s given. For one, no one thinks a professional blogger’s job sucks. The guy at the coffee shop is another story. While it may seem like a nice gesture (or annoyance) to give an extra dollar or two to the person who takes your order, there are darker economic underpinnings.

A barista makes relatively low wages. But unlike may other low wage jobs, the tips provide a financial advantage for the workers with no extra cost to the employer. Tipping isn’t yet a full-blown requirement for lunch counter and coffee shop patrons, but it’s common enough practice to be expected. The Wall Street Journal recently lamented the tip jar as a subsidy for Starbuck’s corporate payroll.

At places where I’m a regular customer and the employees know me, I do still drop money in the bucket. It’s not out of total altruism though—the gratuity ensures preferential treatment and the occasional freebie.

After some consideration, I think I’m in favor of just adding the tip automatically and calling it commission if an establishment wants to have that as a practice. But I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. I know we have a lot of bloggers who subscribe and a lot of Starbucks junkies as well.


When not blogging for the love of his topic here, Mike does so over on Broken Cupid, a dating blog for single gay men.

Note: While we don’t blog for tips here at Queercents, there is a way you can show appreciation—comments. Let your favorite writers know you love them.