Noun 1. gastronome - a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink)bon vivant, epicure, epicurean, foodie, gourmetsensualist - a person who enjoys sensuality. Follow me on Twitter: @Aghastronome

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tipping: The When's and How's - My Perspective

Today, 29-95's Whine and Dine has a nice reminder about tipping and waitstaff/service industry pay.  It's extremely topical at this juncture.  Read your local news, the price of oil has shot up to record levels, nearing $100/bbl.  How could this POSSIBLY be relevent to tipping etiquette?  Have I taken complete leave of what senses I have left in my possession? NO.  Tipping is likely to be my first in a series of posts about how we are cavorting around a perfect storm, economically and in my humble opinion.  We are in the "cone of uncertainty and rising food costs".

In general, most service employees are earning less than $3.00 per hour, plus tips.  Waitstaff tip-out and the end of their shift to everyone who helps them, bartenders, buspersons, and anyone else the establishment they work for includes in the pool.  I will spare you the reiteration, click the link above and read the article, it's on point.  Read the comments, too.  I am a 20% plus tipper for decent service, never less than 10% for poor service.  I have waited tables, I fully appreciate the work and effort that goes into making the general population happy.  I fully appreciate that there will be at least one person, couple or family, each shift, who possesses some insane notion that they are "all that and a sack of chips" and you, lowly service person are chattle.  They're jackwagons and likely tip for crap.  Those upon whom the odd cup of coffee or sticky dessert must fall, on accident, of course.  These people make the appreciative customers who do tip properly a shining light in your shift. One thing I should mention in particular, if you have a "koopon" or discount offer, it is proper and expected that you tip on the full MSRP of your meal.  Also, doubling the tax on your bill is not really an effective means of calculating a tip.  Those little tip cards?  If you can't manage the basic math in your head...well, that's your first and last meal in my presence.  What is twenty percent of a $40.00 check?  Pssst, $8.00, just saying.

To those who say they never tip, I say, stick to fast food, buffets and institutions offering counter service.  If you can't afford to tip properly, please only go where you can afford not to look like a cheapass.  Say, Apple Garden, or whatever that place is.  To those who think the employer making an alleged adjustment to ensure waitstaff make minimum wage:  The lady at the drive-thru who couldn't get my order right after I repeated it three times, and then couldn't make change.  That lady?  She makes minimum wage.  The person who remembers a four-top of orders and special instructions, keeps your drinks refreshed and works hard to make sure you have an excellent experience is worth far in excess of minimum wage.  You try living on minimum wage.  It requires an inodinate amount of sacrifice, if you've not done it in awhile.

Times are getting tough, that means it costs everyone more to travel to work.  Groceries are going to be increasing in price.  Spend wisely, and tip properly.  Nobody likes a cheapass.  Am I sure of that?  Uhuh, just read the Forum on "poor tippers" if you have any doubts.


  1. I like your writing and this blog, but I have to disagree with some of your opinions in this post.

    It simply doesn't make sense to equate "appreciation" with tipping... or a gift. Where should we draw the line of giving a gift for appreciation in our lives?

    You and many, many others (this isn't my first time losing this argument) always state that the line is drawn simply when an employer pays his employees less than minimum wage. So if 1. I buy something, and 2. the people that work at the place I bought something are paid less than minimum wage, then I am responsible to make sure they don't live in poverty.

    This is the problem I have when I read pieces such as the one above. It's not rational.

    Look, I tip... every time. I don't think I've stiffed a waiter since I was in high school. However, I hate the system. I resent the obligation. And, I never tip 20% unless I'm really drunk and had the greatest time in recent memory.

    If that makes me a scumbag, just show me where the line is and I'll go stand in it.

  2. SirRon,

    No such line! I appreciate your points, and they are valid. I didn't bring up the automatic "big top" tip of 18%. In my book, you just limited your upside by eradicating your downside.

    I think the tipping system is a bit like a non-unionized union, if you will. I view the intent as to weed out the poor service, or incentivize better service. Higher wages would eliminate the need for the system, but, I think higher end restaurant service might head south in the process.

    Decent tippers are not "cheapasses", but stiffers....well...

    I welcome all points of view! Dissenters just make you think in new terms and perhaps teach you a new perspective.

    Thanks much!