Take a tip from me . . . Don't expect a tip for cash and carry

Last night, after finishing work with a cough that sounded like I ought to be in a TB ward, I dragged myself to my car and drove home. My husband, who is not a Catholic (and even Catholics have been absolved from eating fish on Fridays some 40 years ago) always wants to have fish on Friday: Whiting, catfish, perch, even haddock. But I knew I didn't feel like cooking, especially with a book signing 50 miles away the next day that I'd arranged before getting that killer cold and infection, so I stopped at the Chili's close to our home and ordered some take-out tilapia.

I studied the menu, made my choice and placed the order. The girl behind the counter rang it up and told me the total. When she gave me the slip to pay with my debit card, I put a '0' in the Tip column and wrote in the total before signing it. The cashier glanced at the slip . . . and her whole attitude changed. Once jovial and pleasant, she handed me my copy without a word.

Her attitude made a warm room feel cool, and I felt it was uncalled for. I'd placed an order for food and paid for it. She wasn't serving me, at least no more than the people who work behind the butcher block at the supermarket who weigh and wrap up boneless chicken breasts or ground beef. I don't tip them, either.

What's with people lately? In recent years I've noticed tip jars at delis, hot dog stands, and pizzerias, where food is prepared while the customer waits. A sandwich artist, as one nationwide deli chain calls their behind-the-counter staff, is paid to make sandwiches. Why should they expect to be tipped? Okay, so even if the customer doesn't want tomatoes on their sandwich, it isn't the same as greeting customers when they come in, handing them menus, pouring them water, taking their drink and food orders, delivering everything to their table, and checking on them periodically. These workers seem to want the best of both worlds.

A few minutes later, when my order was ready, I accepted it with a smile. The cashier, by now pleasant again, didn't say thank you.

And neither did I.