To all those who come here for the food porn, today we’re taking a deviation to talk about tipping. (Come back soon for more food porn, however! There are still at least 100 posts in backlog!)
Because tipping is the one thing that we all do, pretty much every day, and very few of us have any idea what exactly we’re supposed to do. I worked in the food industry for a hot second, but it was enough for me to truly appreciate why tipping is important. Why this country allows this practice to happen the way it does, with most waiters making far below minimum wage and “making up for” that wage in tips (which are at the discretion of unreliable people) I will never know. But I read an article this week that was a nice discussion about how important it is to not be a low tipper and what customary tips are for many industries: http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/04/everything-dont-know-tipping.html
It’s a thorough article, and not only is it helpful because so many times I’ve asked myself “Am I supposed to tip in this situation?” but also because it discusses that to go from being a low tipper to an average tipper (or average to high) doesn’t take that much out of your pocket in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly does make a big impact on the people you encounter every day who rely on those tips.
I’m also in a place in my life where I WANT to be a great tipper. Great tippers in my past helped me when I needed it most, and when I was reading about the people who were randomly leaving $1,000 tips on random checks in restaurants last year, I was touched. I immediately thought that I would love to do that some day… Have enough money to spare to make a big difference in someone’s paycheck for that night. I’m certainly not there yet, but I can bump up from average to high at the very least. I’ve always prided myself on being a good tipper, trying to always give 20% on a bill after tax, but I can do more.
Tipping outside of the food industry has always been a bit of a mystery to me. (And it seems like it is to this writer as well… why DON’T we tip an acupuncturist but we do tip a masseuse?) After having a wedding, I was left me scratching my head with whom to tip even after reading many articles on the subject. One thing I learned from that experience, however, is that if someone is providing a service where they set the price and they are the business owner, you don’t tip, because they are setting the price to include gratuities, for the most part (though I’m still not sure about photographers, since the best advice was split on this). On the other hand, if the person helping you works for a business and someone else is setting those prices, then you tip. Okay… I can live with that. But this article still helped me know that I have to put down a few extra bucks at the nail salon and for bartenders who mix a complicated drink. (I always had in my head that it’s $1 per drink, maybe $2 for a really hard one or really great service, but with cocktails costing $13-$15 in most NYC restaurants, which the bartenders have no hand in setting prices for, $3 per drink is probably a better idea).
One thing I learned by working in a restaurant for a summer is that 15% (before tax) is the absolute minimum you leave, even if you get shitty service. Why? Because that waiter also pays out the kitchen and everyone else that keeps that restaurant humming, so even if the waiter forgot you half the night, there are still a lot of people working to get that food into your face (and at hours when everyone else is out and doing fun things). Working nights and weekends is the only option in that industry if you want to make money to survive, and when I wound up going home with $20 in my pocket after 6 hour on my feet as a hostess because the waiters sucked that night, that really just wasn’t cool.
If you have bad service, the only way you should deal with that is to talk to the manager, just like you would in any other industry. Taking it out on a waiter takes it out on the entire establishment. If that manager hears that the waiter isn’t doing great, or the kitchen is really screwing up, they have the ability to remedy that situation. Stiffing the waiter doesn’t help anyone figure out what went wrong and never “punishes” the offending person without taking it out on the rest of the staff.
What’s your opinion on tipping? Do you consider yourself a good tipper? Do you want to make it a point to tip better in the future?