Think before you tip
A warning to all dining cultures apart from the US, which has already been lost.
I understand why tipping is so easy. Tipping happens because at the end of the meal, you’re all merry with much wine, in love with your waiter and all humankind, and having ‘to helled’ with financial restraint when you ordered the entrée of 30 rock oysters, money feels vague and meaningless.
But control yourself. The waiter is probably only doing his job. And your thoughtless tip is contributing to the decline of the service culture, a decline that will eventually lead to the American crisis, where tipping is no longer a gracious favour for good service. It’s an expectation. Americans lost the point of eating. Then they lost the point of tipping.
I was chatting with an Aussie couple just back from their honeymoon in Hawaii, and they were saying how a tip there is not only something that’s anticipated (which is what I’d last heard), it’s an item on the bill. Well I’m sorry, America, I’ve got two things to say to that. First – be done with the farce, stop itemising, and just include it in the dining price. Second, until then, I’m going to stand on my rights in a New York restaurant and say I’m not paying it because it’s just a tip.
Meanwhile in the UK, tipping appears to be something you’re only expected to do if there’s no service charge. I’m afraid I don’t look at a receipt that closely. I’ll pay the final figure - and if, as did happen, the waiter fought his own booking spreadsheet on a Saturday night to allocate a table and showed me the wine cellars before dessert- a solid tip as well.
This made me happy with Australia’s tipping culture, until I found out it’s broken too. Here, you don’t tip unless you were really happy with something, or, as the introductory situation describes, really happy in general.
Which is right.
But then a coffee shop waitress told me what often happens with tips. Because not everyone gets one, those who do are obligated to put it in the tipping jar, which will be divvied out at the end of the week to the lazy and hard-working alike.
This is socialism. And what’s more, it’s deceit. The customer didn’t intend to tip every employee of the outfit. He intended to tip the one he arbitrarily thought did a noteworthy job.
Naturally, this needs to be rebelled against too. I’ve resolved that next time I wander into a coffee shop, I’m going to tip the person who serves my table, and make it very clear that this isn’t going in the jar. Yes, I know about the jar. And it’s okay. I’m giving this on the proviso it doesn’t go in there.
And then I’m probably not going to tip again for ten years. Tipping is a favour. And as such, it needs to be both deserved and unexpected, like an out-of-the-blue award at work. You weren’t trying to get rewarded. You weren’t expecting it. You were just being excellent, and someone noticed.
BEFORE YOU GO -
I'm eager to hear more, and possibly argue about your tipping culture in the comments.