Kindness begins with you

Let me start off by throwing this out there. 15% is not a good tip. For those of you now reeling, let me clarify that statement a little bit. 15% is an acceptable minimum. 15% is what you leave a server who has done a sub-par to adequate job.

Allow me to further explain. In the great state of Utah, servers are payed $2.13 an hour. Yes, that is correct, the establishments in which we work pay us a grand total of two dollars and thirteen cents. We never actually see those two dollars, as our good government takes them away before we even get the voided check. In other words, it is you, John Q. consumer, who actually pays my wages.

I do not wear a blue vest with the blazing, golden smiley face on the back. You will find no golden arches gleaming forth from my chest. What is the significance? This means there is no higher force paying me to smile at you. I am not being compensated by a monopolistic corporation to put up with rudeness and inconsideracy (I think I just made that word up). In other words, when you walk through those doors and sit at my table, you are essentially renting my services for the next 45 min or so. Which means when you walk out of there having left an 8% tip, not only did you waste my valuable time, but you also just slapped me in the face. You, by your ungenerous actions, have said that I did a poor job and my time was not worth your money.

I have heard people say that they can not afford to leave a decent tip. Well unfortunately tipping is part of the dining experience, and therefore if one can not afford to tip, then one should not go out to eat. It is a very simple concept. If you want to eat out but you can't afford to tip, goto McDonalds or Cafe Rio.

How much should one tip? Let me first clarify that tipping and tithing have nothing to do with each other. You are not paying me 10% of all of your wages, so therefore the argument that "I ain't gonna tip no more than what I pay fer tithin'" is rendered invalid. That said, the percentage one should tip depends upon the quality of services given. If you feel like your server did a good job, you should give them at least 20%. Try this: add two dollars to what you would have normally tipped. The difference between $5 on $30 and receiving $7 on $30 is huge. And honestly, in the whole grand scheme of your life, does $2 really make a difference? If it truly does, I submit that you should not be going out to eat. But $2 in that situation makes a big difference to how I feel when I receive that tip. To me, that extra couple bucks says that the table appreciated my hard work.

It is ironic that generally the most demanding and difficult tables turn out to be the worst tippers. I am more than willing to accommodate one's irksome caprices and whims, as long as I am compensated for it.

Let me present another novel idea. Servers are not sub-human degenerates, unworthy of common courtesy. If someone greets you in any given situation, do you generally ignore their existence? Of course not. Normal human beings, when greeted in a friendly manner, return said friendly greeting. Why then, 80% of the time when I greet a table, am I not afforded this common courtesy? At times I wonder if the hostesses tell my tables that I have a lazy eye, and to therefore avoid eye contact at all costs.

Lastly, please interact with me. That probably sounds like a lonely, desperate, childish plea, but seriously...your dining experience will be far more enjoyable if you simply interact with me. I can promise you that tipping is made much more pleasant when you find you actually like the server.

As much as receiving a lousy tip hurts monetarily, it is actually worse on an emotional level. My feelings for my job fall into a love/hate dichotomy . On one hand, I work with fantastic people and great managers. It is a fun environment to work in. It's nice having a job that doesn't make me want to stab myself in the chest before I go in to work. On the other hand, I have never had a job that was more emotionally upsetting, and that made me want to stab myself in the chest on my way out.

(sorry about the picture, this made me laugh for about 20 min at three am.)


Dave said...

Fish, since you are a blogger (and easily the best that I regularly read) you realize that not everyone will agree with everything you say. I agree with most of this post. Having been a waiter myself a few times, I understand the whole "tips are all I get" problem. I also agree that 15% is only the base price of screw-you insurance that you are buying from your waiter--hardly what I would call a good tip.

That said, I have to disagree with the post's tone: waiting at any decent restaurant is never a bad wage. you didn't say how much you typically take home in tips, but I am sure that a guy like you (funny, no noticable weirdness) easily makes more than the people with smiley face jackets on your worst day. So...the rant might go a little far this time--spilling over from the "good point, I hate that too" category to the "colicky baby" category. take some tums. The other thing is your apparently sincere emotional investment in the tips you get. Fish, this is an extremely precarious peg to hang your "good day/bad day" meter on. people are asses. never depend on them for anything. esspecially ones you dont know. esspecially when they are eating. esspecially when they are supposed to pay for something. In short, I have two points: 1) you and I have both had worse jobs; and 2) tips are more often a reflection of the tipper than the tipped.

Stefanie said...

Very good points. All of them I always knew you were one to have strong feelings about things it is good you have found blogging to help get them out there!! where do you work again?

Devin said...

One thing that's way different about some of the countries in Europe is that at restaurants, servers take offense if you tip them. Like in France. Weirdest thing. But I can guarantee ya they're getting paid more than $2.13/hr!

Snubbs the White Rabbit said...

Dude, well said man. I couldn't agree more with you. As far as what Dave said, he obviously hasn't served in a while. I can comment no more because i couldn't have said it better myself.

Nick said...

Fish, I want to start off by being honsest in saying that I have been guilty of snubbing the occasional server. However, due to your inspirational words, and the fear of having to eat at the Donalds due to unappreciative tipping, I ate out twice last week and when giving the tip I upped my amount by two dollars. Plus they did a good job! Bravo sir!