The Tipping Epidemic

00120065-0000-0000-0000-000000000000_00000065-075e-0000-0000-000000000000_20121023200511_tipI have a rant y’all. How many times have you gone out to eat and had a horrible experience? Or had a really bad cab driver? Or had a hair dresser mess up your hair? More than once, I bet. And yet, we kinda have to tip em! That’s some bullsh*t! Last week, I went out to a mexican restaurant with my family. While our waitress was nice, she was really slow and forgetful. I asked her for hot sauce several times, and she never brought it out. So, I ended up eating my food without the sauce – blah! At the end, we told her to get the check, and waited about 10 minutes while she chatted up another table. The same thing happened after we gave her the card to pay – we had to wait another 15 minutes! Despite the whole mess, I left her a tip. What would you have done in that situation?

The thing is, I think it’s effed up that restaurants pay waiters and waitresses $2 something or $3 something and hour, and then patrons are pretty much mandated to tip, aka shell out the wait staff’s salary! Before I moved to the US, 13 years ago, my understanding was that a tip is something extra you give someone for exceptional service. However, once I moved here, I realized that in this culture, a tip is pretty much mandatory. Also, it’s not like you can just leave whatever tip. It has to be, at least, 15%! Some places automatically add a 20% tip to your bill. So, basically, if you wanna go out to eat, you not only have to pay for what you eat, but also pay the wait staff’s salary! What kinda nonsense is that? Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand they work hard. I have no problem leaving a tip when it’s deserved. In fact, when the food & service are good, I have often left more than 20% tip. I just don’t think it’s fair to have to leave a tip when your experience was horrible!

There have, doubtlessly, been occasions when I didn’t tip. A couple months ago, I was in NYC and had to take a cab. It was really hot and humid so my friend and I asked the driver several times to turn the AC on. He didn’t. He just ignored us. Guess what? He didn’t get a tip! Most times, the waiter/waitress, or cabby won’t say anything. Then there are times when they’ll confront you about it. I was in Boston last year and went out for drinks with a couple friends. The server was extremely rude. He was a total b*tch. We still tipped him, but it wasn’t a big tip. As we’re leaving, he picks up the check, looks at us, and says “Seriously? Ugh, what the f*ck!” I’m not making this up, guys. I wanted to take back the tip we did leave him because, frankly, he didn’t deserve a tip! If you think that story’s crazy, you’ve gotta hear what happened when I went out for brunch, at some cafe in NYC.

So, I’m with 3 other people at brunch. Two of the people I was with, got the brunch deal which allowed them to order however many mimosas and bloody marys up until 4pm. Just before 4, one of the girls spilled her drink and asked the waitress for another one. The waitress brought her another drink, that was half the size!! She also told us that we had to vacate the table because it’s reserved at 4pm. Seriously? We were still eating! Then, she told us someone else is taking over for her and brought over the new waiter. She also had the worst attitude. So, we decided she wasn’t getting a tip. We paid the bill, part in cash and the other part by card. We left and had just gotten down the block when our first waitress came running after us and told us we hadn’t paid the whole bill. Apparently, the cash part had gone MIA. We told her we had paid a part in cash so she went back. We had gotten around the block when the second waiter came running after us. We turned around and he goes “Um, you guys didn’t leave a tip.” Again, not making this up. One of the girls said, “Yea, because she didn’t deserve a tip.”; to which the guy says “Um seriously? You’re not gonna leave any tip?” I said, “Um, no.”, and we kept walking. We couldn’t even believe this was real.

I should mention that I recognize that serving and bartending is hard work. I also realize that they are just people, and people make mistakes. I make it a point to be extremely nice to them, and am always very patient. My problem in this post isn’t exactly with the people. It’s with the system that mandates tips.

So, am I the only one who thinks this whole thing is ridiculous? I can’t be, right? Have you guys had any crazy experiences like that? Have you ever left a restaurant without tipping? How much do you tolerate before you decide you’re not gonna tip?




  • LavenderBourbon

    I definitely understand where you are coming from. It sucks to get bad service and still feel obligated to tip, especially when you hear about how servers and bartenders make hundreds of dollars from tips while the rest of us slave away by the hour. You have more courage than I do because I would never leave without tipping, karma and all that, plus I tend to frequent the same places and it’s best not to piss off the people handling your food.

    BUT, and I just have to say this because I and people I care about have and do work in the food + hospitality industry, it can be a very thankless job. Just because you’re on the clock diners think its ok to treat you like their slave. Most people don’t say please or thank you, and even in your post you say: ‘At the end, we told her to get the check…”

    Often in life I think we have to examine what are we doing to attract the energy and attitude we get from other people. If you go in to situations expecting to be disappointed and have a bad experience, then you’re probably not treating the people around you very nicely. The people waiting on you are people as well, and they are not perfect and will make mistakes just like you or I.

    That said, some people are just plain rude and horrible, like that taxi driver, wow!

    • Dhruvi

      Hi, thank you for checking out my blog. I see where you are coming from and I should’ve mentioned that I am always extremely nice to them. I always say please, and thank you. I’m always very patient. I know it’s hard work. So, when I get shitty treatment despite how nice I am, it definitely does piss me off. Plus, in this post, I’m not necessarily mad at the wait staff. I’m more upset about how tips are mandated in the system. As a result, the people who are working take tips for granted. This, in turn, results in bad service.

      • LavenderBourbon

        I agree! Some people do take tips for granted, they think even if they don’t do a good job they will still get at least 15%. Ultimately it is your choice to tip or not but social norms definitely play a big part in it, if you don’t tip you kinda burn the bridge of ever being able to go back to that restaurant or bar.

  • Tara Reid

    This was one of my biggest culture shocks traveling to the US. Since I’m in Canada, where services of any kind are paid a solid wage and tips are extra, we only tip when the service is great. We normally tip 15-20% regardless (even if the service is just ok), but any of the situations you described, we would NOT tip!

    • Dhruvi

      Exactly! It’s shocking to me. I feel like people don’t even bother providing good service sometimes because they know they’re gonna get a tip regardless. Plus, it’s never 15-20%. It’s 20%! That’s what expected.