Ask The Salty Waitress: Do I Need To Tip My Coworker For Making Me An Espresso?

Dear Salty Waitress, I work as a cashier at a medium-sized and family-owned grocery store. This is the first time in my life I have had this kind of job, and I got it after my wife got a job in the U.S. (We come from France.)

Everything is fine and my coworkers are awesome BUT I still ask myself if I should tip my colleagues from the little café we have in the store each time I get an Americano there. Tipping in general is still awkward for me, coming from a country where this is basically non-existent, and I still wonder about the etiquette in this case.

If it matters, all the employees have a discount in the store, including the café.Merci, L'épicier

Hey Frenchy,

I'm so proud that my column is attracting a multicultural audience. Next stop: worldwide fame. Comment est-ce qu'on dit Salty Waitress en francais?

Okay, so I get that tipping is weird for you. (If it makes you feel better, it's confusing for Americans, too, and we grew up around it.)

I think you should still tip, even if you have a discount and it's your colleague making the americano, and here's why:

  • You're still buying the americano as if you're a regular-Joe customer. (You get a small discount, but it's not like this is staff meal.) So yeah, you're a coworker of the barista, but in this transaction, you're also the customer.
  • The other employee has to take time out of whatever else they could potentially be doing to make the Americano. They could, in theory, be waiting on a regular customer that would tip but are instead making your Americano.
  • You're a cashier, not a barista or café server, so you're not really their direct peer. There's usually a kind of camaraderie that forms between bartenders or wait staff, and it might not extend to cashiers—no offense, Jacques.
  • It'll cost you, what, a buck?
  • Americans tip for lots of things, and we rarely get offended at being overtipped. We tip hairdressers. We tip ride-share drivers. We tip the guy who wheels our luggage from the front desk to the elevator.
  • The coworker can always tell you if they don't feel comfortable taking your money. If they really feel weird about you tipping them—unlikely, by the way—they can just slide your dollar back with a "Hey, don't worry about it."
  • No need to overthink it, but definitely leave a dollar. Comprendes?

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