I have a beef, a truly cranky beef. It is about tipping, delivery charges and other charges that the food service industry has. This may be relative to the area I live, and the standard of service, but I really went past tip apathy. I am in tip frustration.
Here is how I see it, and I want to be clear I am right because this is a subjective matter. Tipping is an anomaly in the food service industry. No other industry has this high of an expectation of tips. Ok cabs and hotel concierges I guess. This probably started as a reward for great service. I imagine in ancient Roman the bar had three levels of tipping. When the beer wench arrived at your table you started your evaluation. Was she pretty, was she courteous and was she quick. Being it everyone was dirty and bathed rarely, her natural beauty had to play into it. Now it is about if your server is clean and presentable but the other two hold the test of time. So these levels of tip were, a few extra roman coins to help her out, heck maybe a big tip was an aristocrat taking the beer wench home as his personal slave. The next level down was leaving nothing, adequate service from the wench but maybe a little slow. But the bottom level we death, I am sure of this, after all they gave us the gladiators. And based on my years of studying ancient Rome through hollywood and HBO, I realize killing was generally the best solution.
In other industries you don’t see tips as part of the gig. I work in new home construction. We regularly do a great job and ensure we complete tasks ahead of time, to a very high standard as soon as people call with a concern. I haven’t seen a monetary tip yet. Nor do I ever expect one. My wife and I did by the framers of our house a case of beer though, they did a really good job. But tips are part of it. My wife works at a law firm, a very prestigious one at that. When they help one of their clients, some giant oil corporation most likely, get out of a litigation or win a litigation they don’t get a speed tip. “Gee Mr. Lawyer, sir, you did a great job of arguing Calvin V. Hobbs and Tom V. Jerry in helping reduce my liability in this matter, here is an extra C note, now don’t forget to tip out to the lit support staff.” This doesn’t happen. Why? You ask such a simple question. It is because most of us go to work and expect to do our job to a reasonable level. You want a tip, work extra hard and get a freaking promotion.
I hear you all now, don’t worry, “but your server makes minimum wage.” Ok so does the stock boy at Toy R Us, where is his chip off? How about the guy cleaning the bathroom at the mall, tip for him? Can’t imagine he is laying his wife out on a bed of purple coloured bills at night. So that is a dumb argument. The expectation from the server is I will tip them 15% for adequate service. I say Fuck that! (sorry for the extra profanity but sometimes it is needed for emphasis). If you want the money my family works hard for, do something special. Don’t just bring me my food and my drink, make my experience enjoyable. Don’t leave me sitting at the table waiting to give you a drink order, guess what I knew what I wanted to drink before I walked in the door. Don’t leave my glass empty, don’t forget to ensure my food is to my liking. If my menu has been sitting at the edge of the table for 10 minutes, I was ready to order ten minutes ago, don’t expect much of a tip. If you want a tip, keep my drink filled, be prompt with service, interact in a friendly way. Show me you have a knowledge of the menu, ensure I am having a pleasant experience. And for the love of god pretend like I am the only customer you have for the five seconds you are at the table.
If I pay you in cash and am willing to wait for my $1.50 to comeback, you sucked at your job today. I am so frustrated with you I can’t afford to waste a $1.50 on you because I don’t want you to just think I am cheap and tipped that small. I want you to know you sucked and you didn’t deserve a tip at all. Don’t expect a tip and don’t bitch when you don’t get one. If you didn’t get one, ask yourself what you did wrong. Don’t think people are cheap, because the truth is we are over burdened with a social stigma against non-tippers. There is a level of guilt with the tipping procedure. It is why restaurants love the debit machine, your waiter stands at the table waiting to see the final number scroll on the machine.
If you work at a fast food joint don’t expect a tip. You didn’t do a whole lot and if you did something extraordinary enough for me to tip you I will make sure you get it. Don’t leave a tip jar sitting on the counter I find that insulting. There is a self serve frozen yogurt place near us, a Tutti Frutti, and after you have filled your own cup and selected your own additional toppings you get to the server at the cash register. Their interaction in your experience up to this point? Watching you do all the work to get the frozen yogurt, which is incredibly over priced. Then you put the cup on the scale and it does all the math the computer. Now you have an interaction, the server tells you how much and takes your method of payment. On the debit machine there is a tip button and a tip jar on the counter. What the hell am I tipping you for. How about this, if I tell you that you ran out of a certain additional topping you tip me! I do all the work, it is like tipping Safeway for picking up the toppings and dough to make a pizza at home. Stupid.
My newest pet peeve is the delivery charge. Especially at our local Papa John’s pizza. This place charges me $3.50 to send a pizza down the street, and they attach a note saying, remember to tip your driver, delivery charges don’t go to them. Even if I pick up a pizza I get this note. I will be honest, we get delivery more often than we should. That being said, if my driver wants my tip, I suggest he goes back and tells his boss that the delivery charge is cutting into his tip. What is the delivery charge for? It is for the business owner to line his pockets. His business model found an easy $3.50 on every order it can collect. And it is bullshit. On top of that it seems odd that all the pizza joints charge exactly $3.50. The driver supplies the gas and the car for the delivery, so why $3.50? Because of the stupid little debit machine? Nope, I get charged on cash delivery too! For taking my order and having to hire someone to work? No he needs my order to stay in business and he already is running his staff at bare minimum. No it is just to line his pockets. So I say to my driver, if you want a tip, you and your friends get together and tell your boss you aren’t happy about the delivery charge. Until then, don’t expect a tip for a pizza on time, a pizza delivered ten to fifteen minutes ahead of your promised delivery time will score you a max of $2, depending on my generosity.
It isn’t that I don’t like you, or that I don’t think you deserve it, I just wonder when everyone will stop thinking they have an entitlement to my money. Forget expecting tips, work for it. The only people who have entitlement to my money or my wife and my parents. My parents will always have a running debt owed, seeing how they raised me, got me out of shit regularly and bailed me out of numerous financial issues. Don’t put your hand out and ask for a tip, show me you deserve one first.
Tiana and I run on this rule. If we get anything below minimum standard service, we aren’t tipping. We keep the tip and it goes into a fund. Then when we get good service, we use that fund to give a great tip. We only have so much income and we would rather reward the high performers. We have tipped very generously before but sadly our fund will never go dry in this city. The level of service is so terrible. While you servers read this, judging me as cheap. Remember one thing. I don’t care how you feel, because if you are pissed about this, you aren’t the one working hard to get my tip!