When you work in a coffee shop, a good day or bad day depends on large part on how many tips you get.
It's been nine months since Rikki started her career as a barista. Saturday was a very good day. She made over $20 in tips.
This is her first job. She works one day after school and on the weekends.
While the job has taught her many lessons,her biggest is that their is a hierarchy to the tip jar. At her coffee shop, there is one barista that everyone wants to work with because he racks in the tips more than anyone else.Saturday was her lucky day.
It paid off in espresso beans.
When I asked her why she thought this particular person was king of the tips,she didn't hesitate. Her answer stunned me.
She said,"He's cute."
Before Rikki mentioned anything about tip inequality, I just assumed that people typically put their loose change in the tip charge and that the person behind the counter was not that relevant to the "amount" they left.
I have never discussed with any of my friends what their coffee house tipping policy is .Now I realize that this impression of tipping policies is simply a self -generating belief- that's what I do so I've been assuming that's what everyone else does.
Do people really put in more money in the tip jar for a cute guy? Would this indicate that more women then men frequent coffee houses?
If the demographics are not skewing female, could the explanation be due to deep rooted societal biases?
Do these customers give cute guys bigger tips because customers assume guys have more expenses than cute girls.
Is the assumption that cute guys need and deserve more money than cute girls because there is a belief (albeit a false one) that cute guys pay for dates while cute girls get taken out on dates?
Or is Rikki's observation, simply wrong? Is there really no such thing as gender bias when he comes to giving and or receiving tips?
Here's the thing. Even if Rikki is wrong, she has this perception and in this case perception is her reality. Her experience is forming her world view.
After nine months on the job, after nine months of counting, analyzing and observing her tips, Rikki has formed the belief that men will receive greater rewards for doing the same job, simply because they are guys. And if they are cute guys, they will really be rewarded.
Her lesson and her belief: it doesn't matter how nicely she greets them, how great she serves them, her tip jar will always be a bit smaller than king of the tips.
It would be nice if I could say,"This is just your imagination. Men couldn't possibly receive bigger tips than women.
It would be nice if I could say, "I'm sorry that is happening but when when you get a "real" job your income will not be affected by your chromosomes.
Of course I can't say that.
NOTE: RIKKI is a pseudonym.