I’m always a little amazed and disgusted when I discover that someone I know is a lousy tipper, or expects some ridiculous level of service in order to extract a meager single dollar bill from their miserly pocketbook.
It’s not usually a case of that person simply being a cold and cheap individual, although it’s obvious that some of those people exist, and like to eat out. It seems to me that a lot of otherwise nice and generous folks just have strange attitudes in regard to the people that serve them their food.
I’ve worked in and around various food oriented jobs for decades. Although I’ve never been a server, I’ve known a bunch of them, and observed the shitty treatment they often get, along with other people in food service jobs. There’s a stupid perception by some that servers must have ended up in those jobs because they “didn’t stay in school” or had low ambition (which is a ridiculous thing to think). I’d love to see the people I know with a Bachelors degree and an office job try to work a busy lunch or dinner service, remembering often picky patron’s orders, managing several tables, and also appearing friendly while doing it. It’s a grace under pressure job, and requires a lot of quick thinking and a heavy skill set. Most people simply can’t do it.
Unfortunately, here in the USA, someone decided that servers should be paid a very nominal hourly wage, and have to depend on tips to really make their money. Who the fuck came up with this system, and how would people in other vocations like to depend on the optional generosity of strangers, sometimes total dickheads, to make ends meet?
I can’t even fathom a situation where say, the local auto mechanic only made $5.00 an hour, and had to rely on tips to get by. Or a company’s I.T. Department? Yep, reroute the servers, and if we like what you do, we’ll tip you. I’m sure that would go over well.
But some people will gladly mistreat their waiters, and tip them less than they should, or will forego the tip entirely if given the chance.
There seem to be different types of lousy tippers too.
You get the “True Assholes”, which are just that. They’re bullying pricks or cheapskates that will abuse someone they temporarily have power over just because they’re miserable pricks. I’d prefer to just see these types of individuals humiliated or murdered when they’re discovered, but that’s not a popular position. These fucks sometimes seem to just have an antagonistic attitude towards servers in general. They might consider them “losers” or less than human. They should look in the mirror.
Then you get the “Super Picky Performance Analysts.” These are probably the most common under-tippers I’ve seen. They’ll “tip” a server, but only if their ridiculous high standards are met. And I’m sorry, but there is a difference in the dining experience depending on the type of restaurant you’re eating at. It’s unrealistic and harsh to expect the server at a Denny’s to lavish the type of attention some diva might require to match his or her expectations of perfection.
As long as the service is competent and friendly, what more does a person want for a $10 meal? If you’re the type of person that routinely goes radically “off menu” and is so picky that your requests veer towards Stupidville, then just do everyone a favor and eat at home.
As much as I hate to bring up this inconvenient observation, there are also certain minority groups that are famously bad tippers. I have to think that this is based in some real phenomena, as almost every waiter or waitress I’ve known has remarked on it, but for some reason it’s not culturally taught that decent tipping is the right thing to do.
Oddly, that seems to be limited to restaurants, as I’ve seen that tipping is happily provided at other venues, for other services.
I guess I’ll also have to throw in the observation that old people are often crappy tippers, even the ones that are comfortably well off. I’m not sure why that is, perhaps it’s just some cultural artifact from the days when $1.00 was a generous tip for a big meal, maybe the elderly just like to hold onto that cash for bingo night, but it is a thing.
I’ve heard some people argue that a restaurant is just too expensive, and use miserly tipping as some way to punish the place. The logical disconnect is astounding, as all they’re doing is punishing the person serving them. The restaurant doesn’t care. To put it simply, if you don’t have enough money to tip at least 15% you don’t have enough money to eat out at that place.
Waiter friends of mine have also mentioned that church groups eating out after services on Sunday often suck at tipping. A few have even received ridiculous religious tracts instead of a real tip. Trust me, your server working on a Sunday lunch service can use the cash more than Joel “I’m a Money Demon” Osteen. Congrats cheapskate religious people, you’ve made Baby Jesus cry. See you in the Lake of Fire.
Honestly, I think there is a sad cultural perception by too many people that the folks in service industries, particularly those that prepare and serve them food, are somehow “less” than them, which is as ridiculous as it is asinine. If you seriously or casually think like that, I’d like to see your face introduced to concrete. Might be a humbling experience. If anything, the people serving others should be looked up to and respected, not treated like abused servants.
My ideal scenario would be for America to change towards a more European model in regards to how we pay servers. Do away with tipping entirely. There’s no reason that a person serving food should have to give a patron a complimentary blowjob just to “earn” a meager wage from super picky pricks that like their power trip.
In France tipping isn’t expected, and the service remains just fine. How is this possible? Just the same way it is in every other business. When a waiter provides consistently bad service, the manager is alerted, and that person doesn’t keep their job for long. If anything, this system weeds out the truly incompetent or unpleasant servers, and provides the patron with a better dining experience.
Restaurants are marginally more expensive there because they pay their servers instead of forcing them to rely on tips, but they’re not THAT much more expensive. Maybe a cheapskate that’s grown accustomed to eating out ten times a week would have to cut down their eating out a little, but that’s a fair thing to do if it eliminates the power they have over another person’s wages.
I’m sure some people reading this won’t like what I have to say. That’s fine, but look in the mirror. Maybe you’re one of the cheapskates that should reconsider how they treat their servers.
I’m NOT trying to be “religious”, it’s just that “Amen” is the word for this article. My husband has been in the food service industry for over forty years; all you have referred to and more is what he has seen (and continues to see) in his career.
I’d thank you for writing this marvelous piece, but why should I when I know that Jesus will thank you for it, somewhere, in the great by-and-by… I mean, how could I ever thank you more than Jesus…