Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Friends without benefits, or one really F---'d up tip jar

Yesterday, in a moment of road-trip desperation, B and I stopped at the town of Middle Nowhere for lunch. While I'd like to say I have an unerring instinct for finding the equivalent of The Chatterbox Cafe (in Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegone) in every small town where I stop for lunch, the truth is that (a) many small towns no longer have a Chatterbox Cafe, and (b) the Chatterbox Cafe can actually really suck.

Anyway, we stopped at the equivalent of Subway -- so equivalent, in fact, that it was Subway. It was one of those occupying one end of a truck stop convenience store. After watching the food preparation employees languidly apply an assortment of vegetables, I looked around for the tip jar. Fast food places generally don't allow them: I suppose they think tip jars would be off-putting to their customers, whom they assume are looking for rock-bottom prices and would view tip jars as a tad less unappetizing than having a homeless panhandler standing next to the cash register.

I am very ambivalent about tip jars and tipping in general. More on this in a separate post, but what's the idea of places like Starbucks asking their customers to supplement their employees low wages with spare change?

Anyway, this Subway did have a tip jar -- of sorts. It was actually a donation box for a worker at the Subway in a neighboring town, who was incurring heavy medical expenses for her young child who has a congenital heart problem.

Lovely -- now they're asking customers to supplement benefits! How about a decent health care package for your workers? I guess not.

This is Republican health care policy at work. No national health care, of course, and health care through the employer -- mmmm, not so much. Instead, health care through charity. Remember the "thousand points of light"?

Here's an idea: low-wage employers like Subway, McDonalds, Walmart, etc., can run charity promotions. "For every purchase of $10 or more, we will add 25 cents to our employee benefit fund to provide health insurance for our workers!"

oh oh.
Critizicing the free market.
You must be anti-US. Traitor!
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