Somewhere between my first glass of ice water and a scribbled check that I could barely read, something went terribly wrong. Maybe it was the lemon slice I asked for. Maybe it was that she argued with me about french fries being a customary side with a cheeseburger. Whatever it was, she had turned on me. From my years working in the service industry and patronizing restaurants, I know the old dictum: “The customer is always right.” But not today, not in that little lady’s mind. My waitress was rude, slow and forgetful. She looked hungover and smelled of cigarettes. Her bill was so illegible I doubted her math but she refused to recalculate it. So there and then I did something brave– I left her a 30-cent tip on a $14 bill.
Tipping has reached epidemic levels in the United States. Years ago, you left whatever change was in your pocket at the diner. Finer restaurants, you left maybe 10% for the career waiters. In Europe, they is no tradition of tipping. It’s considered rude and gauche in some countries. Yet in America, we have been guilt-tripped into an ever-spiralling level of tipping. What used to be an acceptable 8% has now gone up to 15% to 20% and even more. And it’s not just for restaurants– hair salons, newspaper delivery, yard work, dry cleaning, mailmen, repairmen, pizza delivery, taxi drivers– everyone these days comes with their hand out for a little extra.
As Christians we are guided to be charitable. We are asked to tithe 10% to our churches. Should we somehow be obligated to give more than this to a surly waitress? Does that seem just to God? Is reinforcing a bad habit really a charitable act? Or isn’t it better to contribute to a young person’s understanding of the world, of the joys of honest, hard work. For those of us who don’t work in restaurants, do we expect tips for doing our jobs? If you are a police officer or sportswriter, a bus driver or a school counselor, do you deserve a tip for simply doing your job? Of course not! There is no valid philosophical or moral argument for tipping.
The problem with tipping today is that everyone does it. We are too intimidated to take a stand and stop tipping. It is psychological warfare across the dining room, young versus old. Are there times when we should tip? Of course! When we receive extraordinary service from a handsome waitress, it is a great show of kindness. But for the young people of today to expect, really demand, a free handout for a job they are employed to perform is ridiculous.
Tipping is, in essence, the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next. Young people have to learn to earn their gifts. They need to work hard and have a great ethic about them. In past generations, young boys and girls had to really hustle to survive. Today, we have children living in their parents’ homes until they turn thirty. According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, many of this generation are too lazy to find work, blaming the recession and waiting around the house until things get better. One of the most dangerous things about tips is that they are not taxed and without a high taxable income many young people can claim to live below the poverty line and sign up for free government health care, among other things.These young people cannot be coddled like this. This is the slacker, hacker generation that contributes nothing to America and will only extend our recession. So yes, it is time for us to take a stand and stop the tipping inflation madness.
After I left that waitress her 30 cents, I walked straight out of the restaurant. I held my head high. I felt good about what I had done, teaching a young person a valuable lesson. She and the rest of her peers must understand that kindness reaps rewards, that the customer is always right and rudeness is uncalled for in a dining establishment if she wants to earn any money. Does the Bible not say, “Respect thy elders”? Yes, I have returned to that restaurant and I have not seen her since. Maybe she just wasn’t ready for hard work.
I’m not alone in being frustrated about tipping. Here are a few other writers with interesting opinions to share:
- How much should you tip a bad waiter or waitress?
- Bad Dinner, No Tip
- Ticked About Tipping
- Hey, Waiter! Just How Much Extra Do You Really Expect?
- Waiter Rant: Some People Just Don’t Get It
- The Truth Behind Tips
- College students arrested for not paying tip
- Waitress fired for griping about tip on Facebook