Here’s a tip……

I need some help with this one. Let me preface this though, by saying that I do leave tips when I eat out. Sometimes I even leave tips when I feel like I shouldn’t.Pretty much all of us dine out from time to time. Some. more often than others, so I was just wondering if there were others out there who feel a little put upon sometimes when it comes to the whole tipping thing?

Come on, you have to admit, though that there is something a little bit confusing about just giving away extra money for no apparent reason. Have you ever gone into a store, to buy, let’s see……a watch;

“How much is that watch?” says you.
“$50” says the salesman.
“Hmmm……… about I pay you $60 and you don’t even need to wrap it?” says you.
“In that case I also have several other items over here that you might be interested in ….” says the salesman as he calls his wife to tell her “Honey, maybe we can take that vacation after all”.

Doesn’t seem to make a whole bunch of sense now does it?

Still, lets look at some of the reasons people offer as to why we should give money away. By far the strongest argument is, “well you know they only make $2.13 an hour?”. Now that’s not even an argument. That is one of those between a rock and a hard place kinda things, the proverbial low blow, below the belt, no fair and all that. I mean what exactly are you supposed to say in response to that? There is no easy way to respond without looking lower than the lowest form of life known to man (some people I know would say, that you’re so low, you need to stand on tip-toe to reach the white line in the middle of the road)so typically you leave it alone, pull out your wallet,leave a nice tip and be done with the whole thing. There are some people who try the old, “so what” argument, but these people generally end up living sad lonely lives,dying alone in “faciilties” with names like Shady Pines, while muttering to themselves, “I shoulda tipped”. So if you want to go down that road, its fine by me…..I just want to make sure that you have a clear sense of the risks involved.

Before we go on though, I just wanted to say, for the record, that I always leave a tip. I’m not suggesting that there could be repercussions or anything if you don’t (why does my steak look….uuumm….wiped?), I just always tip.

Then we have the ever so popular, “well you’re supposed to tip to show your appreciation for the service you received”. AHA!!!!!! For those among you who don’t tip, you pounce on this one, its what some people call “a gimme”, and you quickly respond,”well I didn’t appreciate the service. We made reservations, came here 15 minutes beforehand, told them we were here and STILL had to wait an hour before we were seated. Your hot date then says, “but…”at which point you interject with “but nothing!!!!!, they mixed up our orders, served us cold food, and never even apologized”. Unfortunately for many people when they are in this “zone of righteous indignation”, they are not able to accurately detect subtle hints, like when the aformentioned hot date suddenly gets up and says (in an extreeeeemely even tone), “I’ll meet you in the car”. (I think they have karaoke nights at Shady Pines if you’re into that kinda thing)

We also have the fancy schmancy Wall Street type explanation, Ahem, “we need to be able incentivize (is that even a word?) our entry level employees so that we could attain efficiencies on a global scale which would allow us to provide a product to our customers that is second to none. The people in these positions are the face of the organizatiion and it is a strategic imperative that these individuals feel motivated to give 150% (not possible) each and every time a customer walks through our doors. Ummmmm….riight! Hey!! I have an idea…how about you pay them more, that should incentivize the living daylights out of them.

So as you can see, we still haven’t gotten very far along. We still have to clue as to the why of the thing. I do think though that this is a good time to note that I always leave a tip, just in case (a new kind of sauce you say?).

How about the “how much”? Personally I’m a flat amount kinda guy. I tip in whole dollars, “as the spirit moves me” as they say. I’m not interested in percentages. You do a good job, you get a nice tip. You do a not so good job, you get a not so nice tip (okay, I admit it, I’m an enabler, but as the song says, you do you and I’ll do me). So the problem with my system is that you get a tip either way, which blows up the whole “incentivizing” argument…since most people will settle for something without having to expend too much effort.

Of course oftentimes, both the if and the how much are taken out of your hands with many places adding an automatic gratuity depending on the size of your party….can someone say variable tax?. Could you believe it? They tax you because too many people are eating at their restaurants at one time.

The whole tipping thing has become such a lucrative activity (I read somewhere it was about $14B annually) that almost everybody is getting in on the game. Apart from the traditional, waiters,barbers, etc., its gotten so people are just arbitrarily putting out tip jars and expect you to fill them up (panhandling is illegal in some states but obviously there are ways around everything). I fully expect one day to see someone open a new business establishment for the sole purpose of accepting tips. They won’t even go through the trouble of pretending to provide a service. They’ll even have drive through windows.

The point is, I have no real issue with tipping. I think however, we should be taking a more common sense approach to the thing. Enough with all the tipping etiquette (who came up with all these percentages anyway), if someone does a good job and you feel inclined to show your appreciation, then by all means do so, if you’re not so inclined (or maybe you can’t afford it)then you should be able to walk away without the stigma of “cheapskate” attached you. And if they do a poor job, you should be able to leave with a clear conscience. After all, you did pay for your meal.

Anyway, that’s just my take on the whole thing. I think that if we are allowed to be guided by our own sense of appreciation and the people we tip by a sense of service, then the whole relationship becomes a more fulfilling one all around. As it stands the whole thing seems like a game of “one upmanship” with big tippers trying to outdo each other and servers etc. practising “financial profiling” on the other end.

What did you say this was floating in my drink….


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2 Responses to “Here’s a tip……”

  1. 'rah Says:

    In China it's an insult to leave a tip. Just saying…

  2. W2 Says:

    Hmmm, interesting……next time I go to a Chinese restaurant I'll have to remember that. And here I was insulting the people all along. You've gotta hand it to them though, they accept "insults" gracefully.

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