The Final Word
By Jeff Girod
Most fast food workers earn an average of $9 an hour, but that hasn’t stopped McDonald’s from posting a guide to tipping on its employees-only “McResource Line” website.
Titled To Tip or Not to Tip, the guide encourages McDonald’s cashiers, burger flippers and that pimply-faced kid who works the Fry-O-Lator to give generously to others during the holidays—because tipping is a “great way to thank those people who have provided you with their services throughout the year.”
The etiquette guide lists more than 20 hired helpers who should get a little extra holiday somethin’-somethin,’ including dog walkers (one week’s pay), massage therapists (one session’s fee) and pool cleaners (cost of one cleaning). And don’t forget the au pairs (one week’s pay), housekeepers (one day’s pay), and garage attendants ($10 to $30, to be distributed by the garage manager.)
Maybe McDonald’s workers should see if their garage manager is hiring, so they can take a second job and afford all the tips they’re supposed to pay the dog walker and everyone else.
McDonald’s also suggests tipping a doorman up to $80. (To earn $80, the average fast food employee would have to work more than 8 hours—before taxes.) But I have a feeling that someone who cleans grease traps for a living and takes breaks inside a walk-in refrigerator probably isn’t used to having many doors opened.
In the past, this same McDonald’s McResource Line suggested its employees should save money by returning unopened holiday purchases, avoid turning on the heat during winter and eat stale bread and bruised apples, according to CNBC.
Hopefully you’re never in a situation where you’re reaching for dented fruit. But don’t fool yourselves into thinking that this heartless disconnect is isolated to the Golden Arches. McDonald’s is just the only corporation dumb enough to post it in a newsletter.
I can’t wait for next week’s cover story: “What we do with the bad employees, and what’s really in our McRib.”
I’d like to tell you that in any way this is going to stop me from eating at McDonald’s. It’s not.
I love McDonald’s French fries. I love their sundaes with the nut packets that are impossible to open. I even love their orange drink that looks like equal parts antifreeze and drain cleaner.
I don’t have the moral gooey center, the time or the energy to keep a list of all the big box companies, faceless entities and establishments I’m supposed to boycott because they’re hurting the rain forest or oppressing some minority.
I care about the rainforest about as long as it takes to see a sale on Goodyear tires, or I get hungry for another Big Mac. Then I shop at Wal-Mart even though its rock bottom prices are killing Middle America and gutting independent retailers. And I buy Apple products and Nike running shoes, knowing full well they were probably built in some dingy offshore factory by hungry, underpaid 8-year-olds.
I figure in some way we’re all being oppressed by a Fortune 500 company. It doesn’t matter if you earn $4 an hour or $40,000 a year. We all look the same when they’re staring down at you from a 90th story penthouse.
Fast food workers recently held a national strike to get their wages increased to $15 per hour. If they get more money, maybe it will shift their perception just enough to put them back to work. But even if they get $20 per hour, McDonald’s will still find a way to grind somebody else for profit.
Think about what you spend on gas, electricity or rent. And don’t forget health care, credit cards or even alimony. To quote an old song lyric, “Everybody pays.”
That’s what should make tipping special: It’s a monetary gesture over and beyond what’s expected. And contrary to what McDonald’s advises, tipping is a choice and not an obligation.
Tip your waitress for bringing your food quickly. Tip your stylist or barber if you like the cut. Always—always—tip your bartender.
A tip is a “thank you.” Then again, so is a “thank you.”
Here’s another tip: Walk your own damn dog.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org