Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tip Your Waitresses, Folks, They'll Be Here All....

NaBloPoMo #29

Clint and I grabbed a pizza and a beverage at the Esquire tonight, watching and waiting for a booth. We ended up taking over a table in which 3 quarters were stacked. I made a flippant remark: "I hope they left more than that!"

I have strong opinions about tipping waiters and waitresses. I've never waited tables in my life, but I still remember what it was like unloading trucks and busting my hump for a fast food franchise when I was a teenager. I've never worked as hard.

Do you know that Women are the worst tippers? And do you know that therefore, they (we) often get worse service, as the waitstaff might assume it's not worth their while to break their necks for us?

I care not. I tip my waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and baristas. I leave at least $1 for every beverage, no matter a cup of coffee, import beer, or dirty martini.

Food not up to par? Slow service? Lipstick on my coffee mug? My waitress still gets 20 percent, minimum. The waiter at our mexican restaurant brings me unlimited refills on chips, salsa, and drinks, meal on one main platter, beans on another, and foil-wrapped tortillas on another. He clears and replaces plates throughout lunch, which costs $6.00. The "high-end" recommended tip for my meal is $1.20.

$1.20, bringing his wages up to a grand $5.80/hr. And that's "over"tipping! There's still the guy that left the standard 15%, and the guy that left a quarter on the table.

I don't think so. There's no way I'm leaving less than 50% for that service and that much food.

If I'm well off enough to pay $3.90 for a cup of chai, then I'm well off enough to toss an extra buck to the starving college kid that filled the tea bag, poured the honey, frothed the milk, and handed it to me with a smile.

On the days that I can afford $15 for the $3 of spaghetti, I'm going to compensate the heck out of the young mother that's going to go home and tuck in her kids when this gig is done.

If you're a grumpy, stingy tipper, I urge you to read "Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress" by Kathy Ginsberg. I can almost promise you that you're going to see yourself in some of the complaints this waitress has: Need a few more minutes to make your decision...and then just a few more? Don't need a refill now, but, oh, pshaw, you'll have one more when she brings your date's drink back?

If you can afford to eat out, I say, Knock Yourself Out on the tip. Best you can.

What's YOUR view on tipping? Have you worked in food service? Best Experience? Worst?


  1. You're an awesome lady. Thanks for that post.

    I always tip and I always tip generously. Sadly, lots of folks don't.

  2. It's a pity your service people weren't paid a decent wage like here and didn't have to rely on the customers to help pay their wages. Tipping is rare in this country and that is why so many of us get a bad name when travelling. However, we always abide by local customs and try and do the right thing.

  3. I had lots of waitstaff as friends growing up... still do.

    I'm a sucker for overtipping.

    You'd probably have to slap my grandmother for me to leave just 15%.

    Kids making extra money for school... or is it a young single mom or dad trying to find some way to pay the bills... hell, sometimes its just a stoner or musician making an extra buck so they can live life without the shackles.

    Sometimes its just people who have been doing it all their lives and its what they know.

    Just people, regular people, trying to get by. And without the tips the pay sucks.

    I thought I understood it before I waited tables myself. But it's amazing how much a bad day gets worse when you start getting stiffed over it. Boss doesn't have enough people working and you start getting stiffed because everything's taking longer than usual...

    You forget something because you were preoccupied about your wife leaving you... and in a blink of an eye you're getting a lecture from some putz whose entire life was ruined because he had to wait a few extra minutes for the right side.

    You're sick but can't afford to not work...

    You just got done watching an abusive husband humiliate his wife and now you have to serve the next chauvinistic pig like nothing ever happened...

    You deal with racists, sexists, pedophiles, and other scum... from both sides of the counter.

    It's a hell of a job.

    Yeah... I tip too much.

    But so does my mom ever since she couldn't get it out of her head when she was eating out that her own kid was waiting tables to scrape by at times.

    I still can't get my friends out of my head... or stop thinking of all the crap the job comes with....

    Yeah, I tip too much. And I don't regret it, ever.

  4. Every single bit of this post is true, and I love you SOOOO much for it!

    Women ARE usually the worst tippers. Especially the ones I wait on during lunchtime, and surprisingly many women with young children-which disturbs (and pisses me off) beyond belief.

    For example....

    I have a regular table I've been waiting on for a couple of months now-not regular in the sense that they request me, but they are in the store at least once a week and I get the crap end of the stick and end up waiting on them. The table consists of a mom, her daughter, and her daughters two kids. One of the kids is a baby and another a rowdy toddler. He makes a huge mess, they RARELY even thank me, and I NEVER get a tip from them. Funny thing is...they live in what is considered a "rich" section of a small town around here (one of my coworkers informed me of that last time they were in here), drive a BRAND NEW car (I just noticed that tonight), and are always dressed in namebrand everything. Takes all kinds, takes all kinds. Remember that people!!

    My question is...why would you write me a check when you never tip me? I could be a psycho crazy vandal and do horrible things to your home if/when I eventually get fed up with your non-tipping ways and assholish attitude.

    Hmmm....I probably would never do that. But the hilarious thoughts of what I would do in my head are enough to get me through my shift. Those thoughts and the great tippers/friendly and fun tables make up for that!

    Everyone I work with busts their butt for their money. My checks aren't ANYTHING. I rely on those tips. They put clothes on my back, a roof over my head, and food in my mouth. I think there are WAY too many people out there that don't understand that.

    *removes self from soapbox*

  5. Anonymous1:00 AM

    For sure, leave a big tip if you can.
    No doubt working with people is a pain in the butt. I won a $200 dollars on a video poker machine and gave the young bartender $50.
    She looked at me and said "I can't take this." She was new to the business. I told her I won it and to please take it. She did. It felt good to win the money but even better to give a nice tip.

    My Dad doesn't tip very well. He told me my Mom was an expensive date because coffee was 5 cents but cokes were 10 cents and back then she didn't drink coffee.

  6. Oh, you know I worked food service, and so did DH, and my sister, too. We're all big tippers. Sadly, I can't remember a Best Experience, but I do remember one Memorial Day breakfast rush at Jumer's when I was the only wait staff who showed up to work the shift, everybody in the hotel came down for breakfast, I did the diddly-danged best I could do, but seriously! The father of a family of six left me three pennies and a note that said, "This is the worst service I've ever had."

    Wish you'd been there to give him a piece of your mind! Thanks for a great post.

  7. Stfarmer9:34 AM

    I travel quite a lot and have room service pretty often. I ALWAYS tip the room service deliverly person generously in addition to the service charge and gratuity that the hotel automatically tacks on.

    At restaurants, I NEVER tip less than 20%, even if the service is not the best. 99% of the time poor service is not the fault of the server but poor managment on the part of the restaurant.

    I've never worked food service but I've sure had my fair share of minimum wage jobs. Minimum wage is sure no where close to a living wage.

  8. ChezBez: Ahh, I overlooked Bellhops in my post!

    Dogbait: Interesting; I didn't realize it wasn't customary to tip everywhere. Sort of like haggling for prices to come down; we don't do that here and the idea of it freaks me out.

    Glock: Great response! You could have helped Katherine write her waiting book!

    MSanchez: My days of dragging around a toddler are gone (until I have grandchildren), but I always tipped like crazy AND tried to clean up that ring of cracker crumbs around the high chair. I can't believe what a mess some people let their kids make! It's been a long time since I worked with the public; not sure how I'd deal!

    Anon: WAY overtipping is a blast. I got a hug from a waiter once for doing that, and I'll never forget it. My dad was a notorious undertipper also; my sister and I would arrange to distract dad while one of snuck our waiter extra $$.

    SSmiley: Aurgh, I'd like to wring that guy's neck!

    StFarmer: I agree with you; a lot of what makes a poor dining experience has little do with the server.

  9. I always tip and generously, if for some reason I can't, then I give a tad bit more than the minimum. I know what it is to work serving people. I don't know about the states but waiters get paid less an hour because boss' assume they can make it up in tips.

    Just the other days, significant other tipped the waitress at the place we were eating while I was in the loo, I was outraged he tipped her so badly. He didn't have any change, I demanded he go get some, find her and tip her accordingly.

  10. MP: I've been mortified to not have tip money on me, ran to an ATM after dinner, and returned to chase my waiter down to compensate. I'm sure he thought I was ducking out, so returning with the $$ was doubly nice!

  11. Stfarmer11:28 AM

    Lori -

    A debit card is good for those times when you are short on cash. Don't leave home without it. :)

  12. Ah yes, but my fav. coffee shop doesn't have a "tip" line on the debit card statement.

    My fav. cafe (lebanese food!) also: no debit cards, cash only. Gotta be prepared.

  13. Good post

    I'm a big tipper.

    My daughter worked had as a waitress when she was in school, so I know tipping IS their pay.

    Now she's a hair stylist and says she made more tips in waitressing.

    (Probably 'cuz salons overcharge to begin with) JMHO

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  15. Here in San Francisco we passed a law that you have to pay wait staff (and dishwashers, bus boys, etc.) a "living wage". Still they only make around $8 an hour. But, the tipping continues, even after the restauranteurs raised all the prices to "compensate" for higher salaries.

    Frankly, I think tipping is just perpetuating a system of servitude. Let's pay everyone a decent wage and end tipping and the uncertainty it creates.

  16. At 2 places I visit , the service I get is the best, and my munchies and non- alcholic drinks are free. I tip big and they know it... And when you do tip well, don't make a big deal out of it- they feel cooler and so do you!

  17. I was a waitress for a lot of years as a single mom trying to eke out a living, in a crappy national college-student all night diner type place, among other places. I thank you, even now that I'm not in that line of work any more, for putting this post out there, because people don't understand about tipping enough.

    The usual waiter/ess position doesn't even pay close to minimum wage (I think if I remember, I made something like two dollars at said graveyard shift) because they count on you making tips to make the rest up. You often don't.

    It's a crappy job. People are mean and rude. Coworkers are bitter and underpaid and overworked. It's dirty, messy, dangerous (I had more cuts and burns than I could count) and hard. Your feet hurt, your back hurt, your head hurt, and often your pride hurt.

    It can be a rotten way to earn a living, and many folks aren't doing it for fun, but rather because they don't really have any other options. They go home at night and count change to see if they can pay the bills or buy groceries.

    Tip, tip well, tip often. A lot of the time as a regular, you'll get "perks" from the waitstaff (a free drink here, a desert there) and at the very least, it's good karma.

  18. I am a failed waitress, I worked at a restaurant for two weeks right out of high school, and I was horrible at it, I gave the wrong food to the wrong table, I got orders wrong, I forgot to fill glasses and cups, and with all that I still got tips, says allot about the good hearted people in this world.

  19. Marinemom11:47 AM

    This falls into the catagory of things you don't know about me and since we haven't been friends for long, there are a lot of things.

    I spent almost half of my working career as a waitress from the time I was 15. I don't know what it's like now, but the reason I did it for so long was because the money was great. Back then you didn't have to claim your tips to the IRS or I should say, you could get away without claiming them. of course I wasn't raising a family.

    My dad finally had to tell me to go get a real job because he didn't pay for 4 years of college for me to be a career waitress.

    One thing I do remember is that there were many stingy tippers, but the over tippers more than made up for them. Also, even with stingy tippers, good service or showing a little leg (I was shamless, one gig I had required that I wear a cheerleader outfit to work - great tips!) will make them open their wallets a little wider.

    I too over tip out of solidarity. I find at the Esquire, those kids and non kids are so nice, I want to over tip. Of course I'm there so often, they start pouring my beverage as I walk in the door! Now what does that say about me. Sometimes I don't feel that way at other places, but they still get 20%.

  20. Jennie Tonic12:19 PM

    I leave 20% as a standard; I can't always afford to leave more. Food and drink is expensive in New York! So I don't go out that much anyway.

    But the amount of goodwill you buy by leaving an extra dollar is a terrific bargain.

  21. I waited tables (and cocktail waiting, too) for many years. It is hard work. Seriously, hard.

    I am a great tipper & have been ever since those days. A couple bucks means nothing to me in comparison to a the one standing and schlepping and tolerating. Really.

    20% standard. Less if they really suck. More if they shine. Small bill? More than appropriate %...I agree.


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