According to Wikipedia, and we all know Wikipedia is the master of all knowledge, there are about 200 different "phobias" that afflict our world.
This morning while ordering a hot, rather tasty cup of black coffee from one of our local caffeine peddlers, I discovered that I may suffer from one of these terrible ailments. So, I sat down in front of my computer and tried to see whether there is a name for my particular disorder.
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Sadly, I found nothing that can explain my fear of ... The Tip Jar!
Yes, the little, unassuming Mason jar, fish bowl or ceramic mug that stares back ominously from just about anywhere these days. Choking with dollar-bill bait in them, and screaming for karmic attention, they cause me great discomfort, and I see nothing on the Wikster to describe my fear.
First, I should back up a bit and tell you that I am pretty much a black-coffee guy, with maybe a counter-wrapped cookie thrown in for good measure. The coffee is poured, the cookie is rung up, and I am done. The perky, caffeinated barista or baristette hands me the change, and the great inner struggle begins. Does this service warrant a tip? There it is, staring at me "» "C'mon man, 75 cents "» fork it over "» you want bad karma?"
Really? Seventy-five cents for three pumps on a thermos and a cheerful "Have a great day!"
They should tip me for being such an easy customer.
It has gotten to the point where I am willing to accept truck-stop or convenience-store coffee just to avoid the dreaded tip jar.
Maybe I should just order a triple-shot Moose Munch espresso latte-mochacino, easy on the whipped cream. At least then I could warrant tipping. Heck, I would tip $1.50 for that creation "» $2 for initials made of cream!
I think the baristas struggle, as well. First they make direct eye contact, then there is this awkward moment as I either pocket my change or reluctantly drop my 23-percent tip into the jar. What if they don't say thank you, or the coffee is cold? Do I reach back in and pull my tip out? Is that wrong?
I am not even sure what this affliction should be called — "baristaphobia?" Not that baristas are the only people who have a tip jar. In fact, I'm putting a tip jar in front of my computer screen "» just in case you want to tip.
Perhaps it should be called "karmaphobia?" Fear of bad karma from not tipping.
I guess I am just too old-school. I just seem to struggle with what used to be "the basic level of service" now being accepted as going the extra mile. Some places just hand you the cup and you have to three-pump your own dad-blamed coffee. What then? Do you tip for receiving an empty cup?
In the long run, maybe what I should really be afraid of is becoming "codgeraphobic" After all, I used the word dad-blamed.
A.J. Klott lives in Jacksonville.