In a restuarant, they are paid–"a little". But all kinds of people work in service industries, do work for me and do not get tips. Do you tip your kid’s teacher? Do you tip your mail carrier? The UPS guy? The cable guy? The plumber? Tips are for SIGNIFICANT services in a few situations where salaries are based on an assumption of tipping.
If I buy $10 worth of take-out Chinese and tip the 20% I would for service at a table, that’s $2 for work that took a minute or two (literally–it shouldn’t take more than that to put the food in a bag). That’s compensation at the rate of $60/hr. If I tip the 15% someone suggested, that’s $45/hr.
Then there’s the issue I mentioned the last time we debated this (about 2 weeks ago). In the places I frequent–small ethnic family-run joints–the person who packs up my sack and takes the money is usually the owner or his/her spouse. Whatever profit there is in food service, they are getting it. Do they still deserve a tip on top of their profit for providing the most minimal service possible? If not, how do I tell the status of the person behind the counter–owner or not?
But the bottom line is that I just don’t think the effort involved in bagging up some take-out food (and, yes, not forgetting anything) is a significant enough service to deserve a reward any more than the same effort at any retail outlet does. Sorry.