Gratuities or Gratitude

Today I’m going to talk about something that lots of people have some mixed views over.  Don’t hate me.

Is the tipping culture one of gratitude? Or is it one of obligation?  Which should it really be?

I’m seeing a lot of posts lately about tipping your servers at a restaurant.  Lots of servers are using social media to express the fact they don’t get paid much and rely on their tips.  For me, this raises a huge question about the restaurant industry and how sustainable it is.

First, let me take a look at the tip.  What is a gratuity, really?  It’s right in the name.  A gratuity is a way for someone to express their gratitude over exceptional service.  If I am paying a contractor to renovate my kitchen and he or she goes above and beyond my expectations, I’m going to consider adding a little extra in the form of a tip, to thank them for their exemplary service.  If I am staying at an all-inclusive resort and I eat a delicious crepe made fresh by the same man three times a day, I am for sure going to tip him.

If I go on a tour and the guide does his or her job, but doesn’t ever make me feel special or go out of their way to make sure I’m going to have a good time, I’m not going to tip them.

Tipping isn’t a requirement in any other situation in the world, but when it comes to the servers in restaurants, it suddenly becomes a touchy subject.

Whenever I go to a restaurant with a friend who has been a waiter or waitress, they usually try to remind me to tip.  This is because they know how little the servers are being payed.  Why is that?  Does the restaurant industry assume they will be able to live off their tips and not pay them enough because of it?  Does the restaurant simply not make enough money to pay their employees properly?  If this is the case, there is a serious problem in the way that restaurant is run.

My friend Nadia has been living in Australia for a number of years.  Last summer, she came back to visit and my sister and I went out to eat with her.  At this restaurant, we did not have good service.  This lead to a conversation about tips.  In Australia, apparently, servers are payed what they deserve from the restaurant.  Yes, the food is sometimes a little more expensive to cover it, but it all works out fairly.  If you give someone a tip over there for taking your order and bringing you food, they will be surprised.  In some cases, they might even think you were coming on to them, and at the very least they would be extremely thankful.  They don’t feel they deserve a tip.

My personal philosophy is that I only tip when I do recieve amazing service.  Luckily for those who wait on me, I’m the sort of person who always looks on the bright side and sees the best in everyone.  Therefore, more often than not, I do end up tipping.  There are certainly times, however, when I do not tip.  If you don’t receive a tip from me, it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you didn’t make me feel special or amazing- which really isn’t in your job description so that’s all right.  Your paycheck comes from your boss, not your customers.  If you have a problem with not being payed enough, please bring it to your boss and not to the person who didn’t tip you.

For those servers reading this, please understand that you have an option here!  Let’s take back the way these restaurants are run.  I care for you, and I want you to demand what you deserve– better hourly wages.  Your tips should be extra- they shouldn’t be something you are living off of.  It is so sad that is the case.  Let’s change it.

Fellow customers, what can you do?  As sad as it is to say, I think tipping less will help the situation in the long run.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the servers right now, so I am not telling you to stop tipping.  Find reasons to tip- show your gratitude to the people who give you great service, and if you don’t feel you got great service, don’t feel obligated to tip.  If you do tip, tell your server why, thank them personally while tipping them.

Share this message in your own words.  Comment your thoughts below!  What are your views on the subject?  Are there times you tip or don’t tip?

Let’s start a culture of gratitude, rather than one of obligation.

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2 responses

  1. You’re right Tim! Touchy subject! In Europe as well, the tip is usually the change left over. Not 20%. They make a living wage. That said, in North America, service industry folk do not make a living wage and have to prostitute themselves and put up with bigots, bitches, and assholes just to make a living. The system is definitely broken.

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