Thursday, November 1, 2012

Don't Drink the Water in Farmington

I'm a tipper.  I can, quite literally, count on ONE hand the number of times I haven't left a good tip after dining in a restaurant (or getting my hair done, or whatever other tip-give-y-type situations).  For every one of those times, I know exactly why I didn't, and it usually involved a long talk with the manager about particularly rude service.  I can thank my parents, but not in the way you might think. My Dad?  Left a hell of an impression on me when I was just eight or nine years old.  We'd gone to dine at a restaurant in Ogden, Utah called "Diamond Lil's."  The management had tacked a mandatory 10% gratuity onto all bills.  My father was incensed--he felt this took the choice to tip out of his hands, forced him to reward service whether it was good or not.  The resulting explosion was epic, and the end result was, of course, that my Dad didn't have to leave a tip.  And he didn't.  He held that up as a great example of defending his rights and not allowing himself to be manipulated by whatever-whomever . . . you get the point.  What I remember thinking?

Poor waitress.  I remember being sad because the young woman had been very nice, had done a great job, and I thought she was super-pretty.  That mattered when I was young.

My Mom, on the other hand, was a spectacular tipper.  She tipped 20% long before 20% was the fashion.  She was generous, funny, and very eager to be seen as some sort of great benefactor, the epitome of giving . . . unless ANYTHING went wrong.  Anything!  Chef screws up?  Tip suffers.  Folks at the next table bring a baby who scream?  Tip suffers.  Waitress is working a whole section herself during rush and the food takes longer than a few minutes?  Tip's GONE.  I can't count the number of times I've had to take her to task (or just leave the tip myself) because one little thing hasn't gone exactly according to her plan. 

There have been others.  An ex-brother-in-law (and a late one, for that matter) who didn't "believe" in tipping (like it's some sort of leap of faith or something), a FORMER friend who used to steal tips from tables (and worked in a tip-earning position!), etc.  So many have influenced my "tippiness," and not one by being a positive role model. 

People who work in traditional tip-earning positions (servers, if you will) are exempt from minimum wage laws.  That means that the waiter or waitress you maybe just stiffed served you for perhaps two-three dollars an hour.  No shit.  When I used to work as a barmaid, I made $2.05 an hour, when the minimum wage was well over five dollars.  Minimum cash wage for tip earners in some states is still just barely over two dollars an hour.  So when you don't tip, you HURT these people.  Believe me, when I used to tend bar, a slow night or a bar full of snotty frat boys who thought tipping was something they only had to do if the server was female and would let them grope would leave me earning maybe twenty bucks for an eight hour shift. 

Don't be an asshole.  I'm not saying that you must always tip, no matter what.  I'm saying don't refuse to tip for some dipshit reason when, in reality, you're just stingy.  Don't refuse to tip a SERVER because a CHEF or a PREP COOK made a mistake.  Take a look around, have a heart--is that poor person working 10 tables by him or herself?  Could YOU do that?  Be kind.  It always seems that the same folks who are crap tippers are those who oppose social welfare programs.  Hey, folks?  Look at her--she's been on her feet hauling trays and cleaning tables for seven hours so she can feed her kids, make her rent, and pay her taxes.  She is doing exactly what you say she should be doing.  So for goodness' sake, tip her. 


  1. I was a waitress for about 6 months in the early 90s. I made $2 an hour before tips. With tips, I took home about $5 per hour on a slow day, and up to $20 if we were really busy. My employer was a former accountant so they were sticklers about paying taxes on our tips - that meant I usually got no paycheck at all. But I took with me a lifelong belief in tipping. A server can actually make a decent living from tips, and they work their butts off so they deserve it. I also tip my hairdresser, dog groomer, tattoo artist, and of course bartender.
    I visited my dad once and he took me to our favorite Route 66 diner, the Metro in Tulsa. He told me he'd been eating there nearly every day for a long time. After we ate, he left a single on the table. That was the entire tip. I didn't bother lecturing him because he bought my meal after all, but I dropped a few more dollars on the table and didn't care if he noticed. What I was more worried about was what they might have done to our food, considering he ate there every day and probably tipped less than a dollar when I wasn't with him. Oh, and he used to frequent strip clubs, (he's been a bachelor for decades so I try not to judge) but he told me that he'd stopped because when the dancers saw him they would take a break and not dance even if he asked them to. I asked him if he ever tipped them and he went silent. I thought it was hilarious because the dancers obviously boycotted him on purpose, and ended up curing him of a bad habit at the same time.

  2. If I can't afford to tip, I can't afford to eat out.