on tipping. [a rant]

I see the conversation all the time.

hear it even more.

“How much did you leave for tip??”

The age old question of: How much did you value your service?

Truth be told, it’s in the eye of the consumer.

Granted, Portland is a city filled to the brim with [hospitality] industry workers. I work in a spot that serves a lot of em’. So basically, when I see them pull out a messy wad of cash from their pocket, they usually got it working the bar the previous night or by some other means of service.

I will say Oregon’s minimum wage is one of, if not the highest in the country. So that’s helpful. But it’s not enough (At a whopping 8.40/hr. it never can be). Our income is supplemented with tips. It’s that little bit extra you give us for remembering your order, treating you warmly, and giving you the best of our skill. It is common courtesy. Or is it?

Now let me get to the part where I say, “Now I know some folks are tight and tipping is not in the budget.” Well, I can surely understand that. But, if you are eating out or drinking things that you can be drinking at home, I’d recommend saving a little before going out and having the wrath of the wait staff be passed on you upon leaving. It happens my friends. If you’ve ever left a bad tip, more than likely you’ve been talked about after you’ve left.

For example. A small family comes in. Orders $40 dollars worth of breakfast, pastries, and coffee. Not a dime left for a tip. Most of which I would have shared with the kitchen for cooking all the food. But no. Nothing.

I got angry. As I watched them shoving these things in their mouths I wondered if they had ever worked behind a bar or in a restaurant, hoping their tips would cover dinner and lunch (and groceries) the next day. Probably not. It seems those of you that have worked for tips understand. And for that, I’m grateful.

But a $40 dollar tab and NOTHING. Not even a quarter? Why did I get so angry? Was it that big of deal? Just 10% is $4. You should be prepared to tip AT LEAST that much. Even if the service is bad. But no, they got kind service and great quality goods. Alas, we can do nothing about it.

You do orchestrate, in some scheming part of your brain, ways to confront them about being cheap a**holes. Then you realize that in the larger picture, it’s gonna be okay. Maybe they’re tight and this a luxury for them. And hey, at least they’re supporting a local business.

It’s an odd thing: counter service tipping. Ya know, you go pick up food to-go at a joint and are tempted to not leave a dime because you’re in and out and they did nothing to deserve it?

You’re dead wrong.

There are cooks. Most people at the counter give the kitchen a good chunk of change because they’re not getting paid much either.

If you’re working with someone else at the counter, that .50 cent tip you left turns into .25 per person. Granted, we’re truly thankful you gave us something extra, but you should know the implications of how it all works.

What happens if your waiter is crappy? That’s between you and your conscience. I do know people that will tip poorly if they didn’t think their server did a good job. I think that’s crap. I’m always a 18-20% tipper. If they’re bad, I frequent the establishment less often. The boss will usually take notice. I don’t take it out on the person. Some people aren’t great at communicating or are awkward or are just having a bad day. We all have them…except our smiles and upbeat tone help our means of getting a little bit more. We hope, at least.

Leaving a bad tip is passive aggressive…and nobody likes that.

It’s like the middle finger from across the street…or a car honking its horn because you’re turning against traffic.

Be thoughtful. If they screw up everything you order, I can understand not giving a big tip. They should learn, but they probably know when they mess up. Be grateful. They are standing on their feet for long hours at a time taking crap and not being able to ever, ever, ever, give it back. It’s just the line of work. We’re happy to serve you. If not, you’re in the wrong line of business. It’s not for everyone, no doubt.

Personally, if I see someone tip above and beyond, which happens quite often, I do my best to give them my best. That’s what they’re paying for.

I know many will disagree, and that’s okay. I just need to get this off my chest because your tip helps feed bellies and pay rent.

It is that important.

hmph.

PS.

If you ever get “hooked up” at a restaurant or cafe, that’s basically a way of saying, “Dude…you best leave me a decent tip…”

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One response

  1. This is really great to read, man. Though I usually tip what I hope to be a good tip, it’s great to find out something like the sharing of the tip with cooks, something I didn’t know. Makes me more conscious of the whole process next time I go somewhere.

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