Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I hate tipping

In her collection of comics, I Love Led-Zeppelin, Ellen Forney includes a number of single-pagers, most of them non-fiction, even instructional. She devotes one to “How to Tip Your Server”, basing her suggestions (commands? requirements?) on interviews with two longtime servers, “Alianna is a dancer/choreographer, and Gary is a musician and ‘zine writer,” both of whom have been wait staff for years.

“15% is the minimum.” For “crappy service, a really irritating combo of bitchiness and condescension, totally ignoring your table, really, really inedible food,” among other things, a tip may be drastically reduced to “say 10%” – but no lower! Ever!

I tip. I tip because I’m supposed to. I hate tipping.

Restaurants get away with a price on the menu that ignores both taxes and service? Why don’t we tip at the grocery store? Why don’t we tip at the DMV? We could put out a tip jar at the library.

Frankly, I can’t think of any good reason for tipping. Because the servers are paid a shitty wage? They’re not the only ones. Far as that goes tips are a disincentive to unionize, least so far as poor pay leads one to get together with one’s peers.

“Remember,” tuts the book, “if you stiff your server, you’re also stiffing the hostess, busboys, bartenders, etc.” Yeah, you’re the one shortchanging all those folks, not the owner of the business who has no obligation to pay the workers what their labor is worth. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out, right?

“To Insure Prompt Service”? You mean, without the tip I’m gonna get slow, crappy service? Apparently I’ll get that anyway (see paragraph 2 above).

If you get bad service, Forney’s informants insist, you tip anyway, then punish the restaurant by never going back. Yeah, right. Suppose you just had a shitty server and the next night she’s fired? How would you know? Check the restaurant’s website? Suppose there’s only one restaurant in town? I guess you’d quickly gain a rep among the servers as a bad tipper and be punished with even worse service.

Suppose you just want to be treated well; after all, you are a paying customer. If you get bad service you should complain to management? No way. According to Forney & friends your only recourse is depriving yourself.

A lot of wait staff make good money on tips, cash tips, which often aren’t declared so aren’t taxed. (Doesn’t the government assume now that wait staff get tips so require them to declare something?)

I understand that waiting tables has traditionally been women’s work, one of the few decently paid women’s jobs, and I can’t but sympathize with the idea that people ought to be paid well for good work.

But I still hate tips. And I resent waiters for expecting them.


innumerabilis said...

Ah, makes me glad that there is no culture of tipping in singapore. There is a standard "service charge" of 10% though. I don't know which is worse; a mandatory tipping culture or a mandatory tax?

Glenn Ingersoll said...

If you order the five dollar soup, is the server really doing half as much work as if you order the ten dollar sandwich? I don't really get the charging of service as percent of price.

Why isn't service just included in the price of the item? Isn't that what they do in retail stores?

Thanks for commenting, inn!

Anonymous said...

Tipping I'm told originated from the Middle Ages in English Pubs where bar maids and wenches wouldn't serve their rowdy customers until they paid them to. Usually they would wave coins to show these servers they were willing to pay for service. A custom theoretically developed by lazy workers. First off if its optiona, customers decide what a server gets not this 15-20% expected bullshit. I think 15% is for good service, anything higher is for consumers who want to waste money or who can waste money. I have worked in the back of a restaurant and we can get paid less than servers depending on how good their day was despite that fact that they aren't sweating over a hot stove having to recook food for complaining customers even while we have never ending orders during rush hours. Oh a customer complained and it really hurt my feelings so I have to walk back and forth carrying dishes. You chose your job like I did, deal with it. Yeah you make less money than me, why don't you try changing places with me? NO? THEN FUCK YOU!!! Now that I have another job I look back and I think some of you were overpaid. You have the nerve to tell people to eat somewhere else if they don't like tipping as if they are gonna listen, just for comments like that I don't feel like tipping anybody but I will still certainly eat out cuz i can. Why don't we eat somewhere else? Why don't you find another job you fucking whiners!