The Rough Rider

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The Rough Rider

The Rough Rider


A Satirical Look at Tipping Culture

Wednesday May 29, 2024 – A 32-year-old businessman from New Jersey neglected to adequately tip his cashier and faced some serious repercussions.

James Smith, a corporate banker in New York, was on his morning commute to the city, starting the day with a coffee run that had been baked into his routine for years.  

A patron of Starbucks his whole life and a former barista himself, he trusted the company and loved the traditional coffee shop environment. 

“Yeah, I’ve been around Starbucks for a while now.  I… never thought that perspective would change.  That is, until today,” Smith said, reflecting on his experience. 

“I just ordered my coffee, with nothing else, just a plain black coffee. She turned that stupid iPad toward my face and it showed that dreaded page… the tipping options.” 

Smith described the act of turning the iPad as useless and annoying.  As has now been customary in America, the cashier stared upward at the ceiling, placing their hands behind their back.  

Smith recalled, “The lady, after giving me the worst service of my life, just uttered, ‘Feel free to answer the quick question.’”

“I looked down at the screen and there were three options: tip 15%, 25%, or 40%.  I looked at the imposing barista, and the hastily thrown-together beverage, and then back at the screen, and nearly exploded.”

Mr. Smith added, “I attempted to bypass the step for tipping, but the screen promptly deployed an ‘error’ notification, telling me to select a tip before proceeding.  At this point, I was ready to leave without my beverage.”

Our reporters asked Mr. Smith what happened next, but he had trouble talking about it.

Smith then turned that iPad back around to her and just walked away from the cashier, slapping a couple dollars on the counter. He explained, “I thought that maybe if I acted like I didn’t care, she wouldn’t either, yet that was not the case.”

Smith started to get emotional, citing it was one of the most traumatizing events that has ever happened to him.

“She hopped over the counter, reaching her long arms to grab my head.  I ran. I felt my breath getting heavier and it was hard to breathe, but I still sprinted down Quimby Street, and away from that awful store.”

We asked Smith to reflect on the experience after having some time to digest it, but all he could muster up was, “It’s still so surreal.  I guess this is the world we’ve come to live in now.”

Smith replayed the encounter further for us, explaining that the barista pursued him as he sprinted down the crowded street, his work attire resulting in a more arduous run.

At the end of the road, quite literally, Smith bumped into a pedestrian crossing the street, causing him to fall to the ground, quickly regaining his footing before fleeing the intersection for good, and losing the barista.

The local police department reported they had apprehended the barista and she was awaiting official charges at the police station, but could not reveal anymore due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

“You work as a police officer for years, yet you never expect to see something quite like… this,” arresting officer Alexis Hanover replied to our questions pertaining to making the surreal apprehension.

Starbucks declined a request for comment.

Smith reflected: “I guess the message is either tip 50% – or stay at home.”


What is Satire?  Satire is a literary genre, like fantasy or science fiction.  In a satirical piece, though, the author creates a story whose plot revolves around an elaborate joke.  Satire has been used for centuries as a method of protesting or sharing ideas through the medium of pencil and paper, often inciting change in an ever-flawed society. One famous example is the novella Animal Farm by George Orwell.  The Rough Rider decided to take a look at the issue of tipping culture, and how egregiously large tips have become expected.  The following article is not real, but instead hyperbolic based on the realities of today. 

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