A few days ago, I saw a Facebook post from my friend Teresa Richeson. She visited Cracker Barrel to pick up a curbside order and she did what she typically does.  She tipped the server, but quickly realized that she may be in the minority.

I am with Teresa 100%.  I always tip if I pick up a carryout order or a curbside order.  Last week, I shared a story about Connie "Nana" Singer, who works the drive-thru window at a Pizza Hut location here in town.  When I picked up my pizza, I tipped Connie and she thanked me for it.

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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That immediately made me assume that's not something she's used to.  That baffles me. The truth is- I know someone inside the restaurant is assembling that order that I called in and placed and that person is bringing it to me.  For me, that's not quite the equivalent of waiting tables inside the restaurant, but it's darn close.

There's even a newer trend at fast food restaurants around Owensboro and other places in the tristate. You likely have encountered this by now. Many fast food restaurants, when you pay with a debit/credit card, are now handing the card reader outside a window and asking you if you want to leave a tip.  A lot of folks aren't accustomed to leaving tips for fast food workers.

Sam Dan Truong/Unsplash
Sam Dan Truong/Unsplash
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So, that leads to this question.  What exactly are you supposed to do?  Are you supposed to tip on takeout orders?

That's a really good question.  As I said, personally speaking, I typically do.  If I drive-thru the carryout window at Old Hickory (for example), I leave a tip.  If I order carry out from Texas Roadhouse, I leave a tip.  If I visit the drive-thru window at Donato's (or Pizza Hut like I mentioned above), I typically leave a tip.  Now, admittedly, I don't always tip those folks 20%, but I do feel they have executed some measure of "service" in preparing my food for pickup and deserve some compensation for it.

Teresa and I seem to be on the same page, but we're apparently in a very small minority.   According to a 2014 CNBC poll, only 14% of Americans tip for takeout orders.

And, as you'll see in this NBC News report, one of the nation's leading etiquette experts, quite surprisingly to me, says tipping on takeout orders is unnecessary.

Yes!  Peter Post, from the Emily Post Institute, says there is "NO need to leave a tip when picking up a takeout order."

Valarie Roberts, who's known as Kentucky's Etiquette Lady, actually disagrees. She says:

"In most restaurants, a server packages and puts together to-go orders. This time pulls them away from other tasks, such as filling ice, stocking plates, rolling silverware, and waiting on dine-in customers. As tipped employees, they deserve to be tipped for their time. Always tip 20-25% while dining in and never less than 10% on pick up orders. If you can tip 20% on pick up orders, do so.

But, I don't know.  I just feel compelled to do it.  When I was in college, I worked in the food service industry (I spent a few years of my collegiate career serving at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Louisville) and I relied on tips to make money, pay my rent and make it through college.

Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash
Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash
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I fared pretty well and figure I can pay it forward in a way. And, honestly, I occasionally prepared to-go orders, which I was responsible for claiming for tax purposes, and I expected a tip. More often than not, I didn't get one.

So, how about you?  Do you tip for takeout orders?

And, if you want to see how tipping customs here in the United States vary from other countries (it's vast in some cases), CLICK HERE!

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