Tipping – should we or shouldn’t we?

“In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked. “50¢,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “35¢!” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.”

–          Source unknown

…and the moral of this story is: you must tip, even when you receive bad service.

We hate the American practice of tipping.  Now do we mind leaving a 15% gratuity when we receive good-to-excellent service?  Heck no, that’s great.  We believe in rewarding people for doing well and often tip very well when someone goes out of their way for us.  Both of us have worked in food service jobs before and we know how much it’s appreciated.  What we do mind is when wait staff are paid below the minimum wage because it is expected that we will pick up the slack for the employer’s stinginess and if we don’t leave a tip, we are actually taking away from someone’s paycheck.  What we do mind is when a cabbie is rude to us the entire trip, we get our own bags, they get lost and make us late (also adding to the meter) and then when we pay our fare without complaint they say “what, no tip?”  …Or when we have to decide whether or not a service we are receiving is “supposed to” receive a tip  …Or when people are so concerned about leaving the “right tip” that they have to carry tip calculator cards in their wallets or spend 10 minutes splitting a bill and computing it.  Seriously, one of our friends carried one of these card things because she was often in a rush and always wanted to make sure she left the right amount of change.

Really, we have to carry this?  Is this necessary?

In short, we hate it when tipping is expected and/or required because at that point, it isn’t a tip; it’s a fee.  Let’s just be honest here and put it on the bill instead of creating some clandestine social stigma that people constantly argue over day to day.

We bring this up because despite the huge cost of a burger and beer in French Polynesia, tips are not even expected and in fact people look at you weird if you give them.  You get your food, you pay what’s on your bill and oddly enough, you get excellent service anyway because that’s just the way these people are.  They don’t require a quasi-federally mandated and taxed (what the heck?  People get TAXED on a tip?!?) bribe to put a good foot forward on the hospitality front.  They just do it anyway as part of their daily life.  Also, they receive an actual wage from their employer vice having to enter some awkward social dance with each and every customer.  I think everyone on both sides of the tipping equation could learn something from this.

For you diners out there, do you prefer the current policy of tipping in America or would you prefer to just have the entire amount on your bill like they do it out here?

And for you all out there in the service industry, which would you prefer?  Larger base checks and no tips or the current system?

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3 Responses to Tipping – should we or shouldn’t we?

  1. Michael says:

    You mean to tell me that on an island with a population of 3 they haven’t yet managed to figure out how to fanagle a few extra percentages from rich sailors?!

    I’d prefer an honest bill. I’ve almost never had BAD service, but, especially when you’re dating, I think it could be a more enjoyable/less stressful experience if you didn’t have to figure tips / try to impress anyone / get in a disagreement with your date about how much to tip. (I’m not saying I was a cheap skate, but there was a time or two that my date actually added more tip–b/c they were a server as well and I wasn’t properly appreciative or understanding.

    I don’t tip at car washes though–unless they throw in a free tire shine first.

  2. Greg Norte says:

    agreed. How awkward is it when you’re out with friends and you disagree on the tip, then someone (you or them, doesn’t matter) throws in extra to settle it then it’s not split fair…ugh.

    And with dating. Yeah, it’s been a while but I remember that awkwardness “dang it, does she care or not? the service was pretty slow but should I pay extra just to show her how generous I am!?” ugh. One of the many reasons marriage is great.

    And what is the deal about “being understanding”? I don’t get that. Isn’t it an objective rating? do we really need mitigating circumstances? is this the sentencing phase of a trial or are we just leaving a few bucks?!

    and why is it the server gets tipped and not the cook who hand crafted your meal? (yes, I know, pay and tax reasons, but why did it start that way?)

    I could go on.

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