Wednesday, October 24, 2007


There is something that has been out going on out there for some time that may seem like a bit of nonsense, but that is really starting to bug me. Since I seldom (if ever) let such things pass without comment I have decided to take up the issue here. The thing that's setting me off these days is the practice of tipping, or more accurately, the lousy way that most people do it. Let me say right up front that I over tip everywhere I go. I have done so for years and I am rather proud of the position that I have taken on this practice. I am disappointed therefore, that so few people in this country seem to believe as I do on this subject. (I am likewise displeased in most of what the majority of people do believe in, but that is a topic for another day.) Providing a tip for service is a form of social contract; and while not a legally binding one, it is never the less a custom of long standing. Failing to do your part is a breach of both custom and etiquette.
  • Have you ever actually stopped to think what people who work for tips get in the way of hourly wages?
  • Have you ever considered how far below the minimum wage that recompense actually is?
  • Has it occurred to you that employers are allowed to pay this paltry rate of pay because of the additional compensation that is supposed to forthcoming through a gratuity?
  • Have you ever considered how miserly behavior affects those who count on you to do your part in this process?
Now I would like to believe that the problem here is that most of us being served simply don't understand our part in the process, but I am afraid that this is more a naive belief in the goodness of my fellow man and a bit of wishful thinking than anything else. Far too often I have watched someone dealing with a delivery person, or my fellow patrons in a bar or restaurant, attempting to calculate the absolute minimum allowable without appearing cheap to their friends (and sometimes not even bothering with concern about appearances if the opportunity of anonymity presents itself). Others carry cards full of pre-calculated amounts in order to simplify and expedite the process. Still others attempt to do the calculations in the head while staring at their final bill (you can tell by watching the way they move their lips as they do it). Both of these last two groups seem to think that choosing to follow some arcane and arbitrary guidelines that no one understands (including those who printed the cards) excuses them from the paltry amount that they typically provide. In the end all of these groups, having settled on the amount that they will give, either hand it over as if it were a Christmas present that should be gratefully accepted, or pass it across like a dirty diaper that they would rather not be caught with.
As for myself, no one can ever say that I have never been one to follow rules when any reasonable alternative presents itself (or an unreasonable alternative if I am just being stubborn), my disobedience here however is on a more fundamental level. It is based on the fact that:
  • These are some of the least appreciated, least respected, and most overlooked jobs being done out there.
  • No one has ever convinced me that the customary percentage is enough, or has shown me that those who originally came up with it knew what in the heck they were talking about.
So for those who choose to ignore this warning and continue your miserly ways remember that we are watching, that justice can often be swift and terrible, and that your day is coming. Personally, my hope is that you are some day forced to live a lifestyle commensurate with the generosity that you have shown to others. As Abraham Lincoln once said in a when speaking about a form of labor performed without proper recompense: "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."


Chad said...

Way back in my early 20's, I worked at a fancy hotel as a cook. It was awful how so many would tip lightly or not at all. Walk a mile, then see what "feels" right.

I too, tip over. I know what it's like, and it's the least you can do.

Tim Higgins said...

I must admit that I too worked a job in my youth in which I accepted gratuities. The funny thing is that the cheapest customers usually demanded the most service.

Chad Quigley said...

yeah... rude customers that are very demanding seem to be the ones that slight the staff. "Me, me, me, enough about you. Let's talk about me".

Now, even when I get bad service, I usually tip something. I may offer a verbal tip as well;-)

Hooda Thunkit said...

For a base figure, I take the total before taxes, double it and move the decimal point one place to the left; that's 30%.

Then I judge the service rendered and adjust up or down from there.

I've never held a wait staff position, but I have watched plenty and can spot the good ones from the duds.

Oh, and I always call the waiter du jour by their name, just to let them know that I did pay attention.

I feel that I tip appropriately but I see many others who don't even come close.

Tim Higgins said...


I like the way your math works.

I also like the mention of using the name. Not only does it show you're paying attention, but it acknowledges the server as a person.

Chad Quigley said...

Hey...wait a minute. Nobody mentioned "people" being involved here...hehehehe

Tim Higgins said...

Well we could switch the whole thing to a serious discussion of "cow tipping", but that might require another posting as a starting point.