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Michael Whitney :: Blog :: A Tip to Remember

June 08, 2012

Dear Darmstadt,

Please don’t be sad. While we are not together, we still hold close to our hearts the memories that are so dear to us. As if it was just a few days ago I recall how my strategy for paying for a transaction has its shortcomings. As we both know, I do not know the language but rely on many societal cues to survive. For bill paying, I typically have no clue what the cashier says so I just look at the register and pay that amount. When there is no register, I overpay my estimated amount. For example, if I think something is around eight euros, I just give them twenty and make note to what the actual amount is for next time.

This process works all and well until the subject of tipping arises as you so kindly pointed out. For the most part, service at the counter places like a coffee stand or bakery place will have a tip jar with no real pressure to tip. Fast food places (even if they are not a chain) do not expect tips. However, if the server comes to you and takes your food order, a small tip is appropriate. Typically, whatever change is left. However, this transaction goes a little like this. 1. Server informs patron of bill amount, 2. Patron hands over payment and informs server how much to take for themselves, 3. Server provides change. Therein lies the problem. One must speak German to complete this transaction as tips are not left on the table. As a side note, the interaction forces a form of accountability in so much as the patron must inform the server what they can have rather than finding out after the patron left the money on the table. Interesting.

But alas Darmstadt, you helped me get through this societal difference by having me learn to keep a running tab in my head and then overpay with exact change and indicate to the server that they can keep it. Thank you Darmstadt, what would I do without you.

Posted by Michael Whitney

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