Tipping: unnecessary evil?

Am I the only one who feels intimidated by the whole tipping thing? When? Where? How much? To whom? And especially, why? 

Maybe it stems from an uncomfortable experience I had many years ago. I was newly married, and agreed to order a meal-for-two for my husband and myself; he was on his way home. Ding-dong – up the stairs came the BBQ-chicken delivery guy, hot bag in hand, he hands me the bill – it’s $10. (This was during the 60s.) I know I have to tip him, but I’m a tipping virgin, I really have no idea how much. For some reason, the figure of 10% floats into my mind. Being mathematically challenged, I give him the princely sum of: ten cents. This was not good. He looked at it like it was some new species of insect, decisively handed it back to me, and stomped back down the stairs.

Okay, so that was clearly a mistake. But I’ve found the notion of gratuities daunting ever since. For instance, if tipping is supposed to ensure good service, why don’t we do it before a meal? Like a bribe? And if it is meant to reward good service, why do we still tip lousy wait staff?

I once had a boyfriend who had a sensible rule: he started off with a 15% figure maximum in mind. If service was good to the end, that figure would hold, and that’s what the server would be tipped. But if there were problems, he would dock a certain amount for each problem. As in: ah, our bread took fifteen minutes to arrive, she’s down to 12%. Oops, my steak was medium instead of well done. Down to 10% now. And so on. A good idea – but he was better at math than I…

But why? Why tip my hairdresser, but not my cleaning lady? Why tip the waiter, but not the chef? The rules don’t seem logical to me. IMHO, I should be tipped. Yes. Just for the show of confidence, in the act of choosing your restaurant, for example, the owner or maître d’ should tip me. And for ordering a nice meal, the waiter should tip me. This could appear as a discount near the bottom of the bill, like so: -15%.  What do you think?

Tippers, unite! You have nothing to lose but 15%!

5 thoughts on “Tipping: unnecessary evil?

  1. Ah Ellie – I have a kid in the restaurant industry and I have a bit of an inside view of restaurant work. Indeed there are surly waitstaff, but in general most of the people working in restaurants just want to do a good job and make sure you get what you ordered. I tip 20% in most restaurants – pay still isn’t great, and the government here taxes you on perceived tips, even if you didn’t actually get them. And they work hard. And…it isn’t the wait person’s fault if the steak is overcooked. If a place is short-staffed, then that late bread basket is forgivable. That being said, when a place isn’t busy and you still don’t get things in a timely manner, then you might think otherwise.

    We can all have a bad day, and sometimes just offering a sympathetic comment can improve your experience.

    Mind you, I can think of a waiter at the erstwhile Franni’s (remember the cheesecake place on Monkland?) who was doing his best to imitate the stereotypical snooty Parisian waiter – I found it difficult to ever leave more than 10% for him – he was singularly unpleasant – always.

    When it comes to delivery, it depends – I tip between 10% and 15% – after all, they are bringing the food to my door.

    My two cents….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And an excellent two cents’ worth it is. Always good to hear the ‘other side,’ in this case that of a restaurant ‘insider.’ And yes! I do remember Franni’s! Victim of the diet anti-sugar/fat era I guess!


  3. I second what Viktoria said. 20% is now standard, and I never tip less than $5 to a delivery guy. Some places even pool tips so that everyone–from the hostess to the chef–get a portion of it. Granted, we can’t afford to eat out much, but I know a lot of single mothers who make their livings in tips. They’re paid less than minimum wage because the assumption is the tips will even out what they *don’t* otherwise make.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear ya! OK. But… 20%????? Where is that the standard? Not up here in Montreal, far as I know. Geez. Mind you, I *would* tip that amount for extraordinary service, i.e. above and beyond. BTW I think the U.S.’s minimum wage should most definitely be raised! It’s terribly low, I think. Ours here is way better. Here’s a quote from our newspaper: “As of May 1, 2015, Quebec’s minimum wage will increase from $10.35 to $10.55 per hour. The 20 cent increase was announced by Labour Minister Sam Hamad on Thursday morning in Quebec. Wages for employees who earn tips will also increase from $9.05 per hour to $9.20.”

      Liked by 1 person

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