Tipping

Greetings, Blogging Cronies, Bloghoppers and Blogophiles!

Okay, I’m back, I think. Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers. It really makes a difference, let me tell you.

While I was off I did a lot of reading and one of the things I read about was tipping. No, not the dangerous and highly controversial sport of cow-tipping, but rather, waitress-tipping, where groups of young people will go out to eat and when they are done, they pick up the waitress bodily and turn her completely over. This insanity is not a sport but a real danger, both to the dignity of the wait staff and to the customer once the poor unfortunate is released. Sometimes they will demand compensation for this abuse by requiring 20 – 30 percent of your available checking account balance in lieu of lawsuit. This practice has…

Oh. Wait a minute, this just in. Apparently I misunderstood the article I read. I was under the influence of Codeine cough syrup or Nyquil. The article was, in fact, referring to the gratuity you leave for the waitperson. That’s very different. Never mind.

I would like to address the issue of how much of a tip you are supposed to leave at a regular sit-down restaurant. I ignore tip jars, especially at fast-food and coffee places where you don’t even have a clue about what sort of service you are about to receive or how your drink will turn out. I am also not talking about all-you-can-eat buffets, where you are now (apparently) expected to tip the person who comes by and clears your dishes and asks how you are doing. Apparently a buck or two is now considered necessary.

No, what I am referring to is the traditional meal that is brought to you by a friendly, cheerful, underpaid waitress or waiter. I feel I am qualified to tackle this topic because, even though I have never been a waiter, I have been a patron of restaurants since the days when Carter and I used to go barnstorming the quaint little town of Shawano, WI. We would get off work, the whistle would blow and Carter would slide down his dino crane and I would leave the loincloth sales shop and we would go out to eat somewhere to talk about the important issues of the day, like whose boss was the worst, which customers were the growliest and whether the town drunk, Wally, would do something disgusting on himself.

We were a couple of wild and crazy, single, young guys with cash in our pockets. One of the things we enjoyed was making the rounds of the local eateries. We could go anywhere in town and not just be welcome, but waitresses would drop other customers and want to wait on us. Sure we were loud and managers didn’t really like us too much, but we had the one advantage that managers couldn’t argue with. We were good tippers. Not just good tippers, but great tippers. Oh, we were friendly and nice to them, but the bottom line was the bottom line. And we knew that these poor gals worked HARD for a lot less money than we even got! Their bosses could (and can) get away with paying a small fraction of minimum wage and telling them to give their customers great service so they would earn tips. We also knew the nature of customers. Some were easy to please and some were stingy old tightwads that would just as soon pinch a penny until Honest Abe cried than to part with it. Now, the employer doesn’t have to make up the shortfall if your tips do not total minimum wage, but you are expected to report all the tips you receive as taxable income.

So, even though we knew that the proper amount to tip was, at the time, ten percent, we also knew that there were many times customers would figure out to the nth decimal place exactly ten percent, no matter how spectacular the service was and that there were many who would probably not tip at all, especially if there was some problem, perceived or real. Not us. We respected the hard work that was being done and we enjoyed being treated like kings wherever we went (even though Carter is always treated like a King and so are his family). The reason was that we were nice to the people that took care of us and we were generous tippers. At a time when the standard, proper tip was considered 10%, in a community where it was likely figured to the nearest thousandth and rounded down by most people, we would regularly tip 15 – 20 percent and sometimes even 25. Sometimes we would BOTH leave a tip on the same bill, often totaling anywhere from 30% upwards. Like I said, wait staff loved us everywhere. There was only one exception in the last almost thirty years when we were treated so poorly and disrespectfully and just plain rottenly, that we left a penny tip. That was one very extreme time, as I said, in thirty years.

I had learned and have always browbeaten into my children, that you should NEVER go out unless you have enough money to include a decent tip as well as pay your bill. My habit has been, all these years, to tip a minimum of 15% and I generally like to leave 20.

I was shocked and dismayed reading this article over the weekend, to learn that the new expectation is now 15 – 20 percent! I couldn’t believe it. This is getting a little crazy, now, I think. As you can see, I already do that, so I feel free to talk. Where is this going to stop? What will be the new plateau? 50 %? 75? 100? Go to the restaurant and find a waitress and seat her and go in back and fix her something to eat??? Well, yeah, I can hear you saying, “Well, times are tough now and inflation has hurt them and they still get paid so much less than minimum wage, etc.” and my reply to your comment is, “When do the restaurateurs have to take a little responsibility for paying their employees a living wage?” They already charge a dollar and a half for a twenty-five cent cup of coffee and two dollars for a ten cent soda pop. I’m sorry, but I don’t think the restaurants are hurting that much for markup that they can’t invest a little in their employees also. And where do you get off, Mr. big-shot restaurant owner, adding 18% to my bill because we have 6 people in our party? How dare you. You have insulted my dignity and impugned upon my good name. While it is true that some groups, (even church groups, which I would like to see more pastors and youth leaders address because you are a poor witness and a bad example if you do not treat the staff that are taking care of you right) do not tip appropriately, who do you think you are, insinuating that we are like that?

This is kind of out of hand, if you ask me and by coming here and reading this you have asked me. 20%. If I have a party of 4, I may as well just have the waitress pull up a chair and join us and buy her lunch, too. That would make up 20% of our bill and then we all could pitch in, even her, an additional 5% and leave her a 25% tip, too. You will walk into a diner and the waitress will say, “Hi, welcome to the Patio Restaurant, how can you help me?”

Oh, anyone that knows me at all will know that I don’t plan to stop tipping at restaurants. It is embarrassing to me to go somewhere with someone that doesn’t tip, or worse yet, is a stingy tipper, especially if they claim to be from my church. I don’t want that poor overworked, harassed waitress to think the church I go to is full of cheapskates who don’t know how to act in public. It only takes once and I will never go again, that’s for sure. Even when we send Grandma out with her group of elders we always make sure to remind her that no matter what sister so-and-so says, even though she is older than Moses, it is never appropriate to just leave a dollar on the table and think that’s enough. And if I ever found out that one of my children went out with a group and didn’t act polite and leave a nice, generous tip, it would be a while before they went with that group again. But, what IS a nice generous tip anymore?

Remember, the good book says, “Always show respect to people that handle your food when you can’t see them.” Or something like that…

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