A business owner told me his tipped employees will cash their cheques five-at-a-time because they're not that important to them. What they want are the tips.
What does "five-at-a-time" mean here?
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This means the employee will let a stack of checks accumulate until there are five of them, and then take all five to the bank.
If a member of wait staff gets paid weekly, this means one trip to the bank every five weeks, instead of five weekly trips to the bank.
The significance of doing it this way is that the employees earn plenty of money from their tips, enough to get by week-to-week.
It's common in the U.S. for wait staff to be paid some nominal hourly amount, an amount that is quite a bit less than minimum wage. Restaurants are allowed to do this because the employees make more than enough money from their tips to compensate for this.
Ditto JR, but just to add a note of clarification: In general "X at a time" means to group X things together and "process" them all at once -- whatever "process" might mean in context.
Like if you "eat 3 sandwiches at a time", that means that you eat 3 sandwiches at one meal, one after the other. Or possibly that you shove all three into your mouth at once, though that seems unlikely for sandwiches. "Eat 3 potato chips at a time" probably means sticking three in your mouth at once.
If you "take stairs 2 at a time", that means that you run up the steps only putting a foot down on every second step.