Dear Urban Diplomat: Do I have to tip for counter service?
I’ve been to a few counter service restaurants with debit and credit machines that suggest 15, 20 or 25 per cent tips (or another amount, if you choose). They tend to be trendy, gourmet spots in Yorkville and on Ossington, but the food prep and service aren’t much different from what you’d get at a fast food restaurant, where no one would consider adding a gratuity. It seems preposterous to me. Do I really have to tip at these places?
—Tipping Point, Ossington
Takeout employees are like kitchen staff. They may not dote on you or refill your water like their life depended on it, but they still prep your food and deal with restaurant-industry woes: lunch rushes, low wages, long days on their feet. Cooks and bartenders usually get a cut of servers’ tips; so should the person assembling your poke bowl. As for the amount, use your discretion, of course—even 15 per cent is a bit rich. But if you can afford to wait 20 minutes in line for a $9 vegan ice cream sandwich, it won’t kill you to kick an extra buck to the minimum wage–making kid behind the counter.
Dear Urban Diplomat,
I recently started working at a small tech start-up. I enjoy the job and think the company could take off, but there’s one problem: I’m the only female employee, and it shows. My co-workers are awkward around me, giggle about GIFs in a Slack chat I’m not part of and frequently say misogynistic things as if I weren’t there. I’d talk to my boss about it, but he’s part of the problem. How do I get them to change their brogrammer ways?
—Odd Girl Out, Wexford
If there was ever a time that your complaints might be taken seriously, it’s now. Any man with an iota of self-awareness and access to a news feed should be hyper-alert to loutish workplace behaviour. If you can, strike up an alliance with your least douchey deskmate, voice your discomfort in private and ask if he’ll help call out his buddies’ obnoxious antics. If your office remains a real-life NSFW Reddit thread, you might want to start scanning the job boards. Don’t quit silently: write an exit letter explaining what drove you away and share your experience on a workplace review website like Glassdoor.
Dear Urban Diplomat,
I live near the AGO and often take my dog for walks around Grange Park. There are regularly OCADU students milling about, snapping relatively close-up pictures of homeless people or elderly folks—without asking permission! It irks me that these kids are using unwitting citizens as part of some “edgy” freshman photography project. How can I get them to buzz off?
—Shutter Down, Baldwin Village
What these wannabe Cartier-Bressons are doing is not illegal—people relinquish their right to privacy when they enter public spaces. However, I agree it’s ethically objectionable and downright icky. Next time you spot such a student, strike up a friendly conversation and point out that they might consider asking permission from marginalized or vulnerable subjects. Back that up by sending an email to the head of the school’s photography program. If that fails, you’re pretty much out of options—short of grabbing your own camera and seeing how the park paparazzi like having the lens turned on them.
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