Where I write

Where I write

September 6, 2011

Tipping is Not A City in China

An old saying waitresses once used was "tipping is not a city in China." We used this phrase when pondering why people didn't always understand the importance of tipping. Here in Arizona, servers earn between $4 and $5 per hour. Some states require servers be paid a higher wage, but for the most part people who serve you food and drinks rely on tips to pay their mortgage, car payment and water bill.

A friend of mine who is a server says making a living relying on people's decision whether or not to give us a tip makes us insecure, too needy, wanting too much to be liked. I do see how the amount of tips we receive might start to represent our self worth. It's true a twenty percent tip tells me I was appreciated while getting "stiffed", no tip at all, does the opposite.  My server friend says when she gets a bad tip she takes it personally and feels ashamed.  Not me. I think some people are just cheap and don't get, or even care maybe, how servers depend on tips to pay their bills. I try hard not to take it personal though it does sting especially when I count my money at the end of the night. (Servers ALWAYS count their money at the end of the night). The other day I was eating at Applebees. I usually don't eat there, but I had a $15 gift card. I can never turn down a free meal as my tight jeans can attest. Anyway, do you know they have an all  you can eat soup and salad for $6.99 at lunch? Not at bad deal.

Anyway, sitting in the booth behind me was a  man and two women. We had the same server, a pleasant and efficient young woman. At the end of the meal the man said "I'll put down the tip. She wasn't that horrible of a waitress. They don't make shit anyway." Sigh. It's no wonder people don't make serving in a restaurant a career. That and eventually you get too old to smile and carry a heavy tray at the same time.

Most people do not like to discuss money even though it is often on our minds most of the time. This blog today might even be more confessional than when I talked about underwear. One of the most common questions servers ask one another is why don't Europeans know they should tip? Here is a typical scenario. A server is sat a table of four adults, dressed nicely, looking for all intents and purposes as a table that might order food and drinks without worrying about staying within a budget.  Servers not assigned that table might even look at the table with envy imagining a fat tip until the server who was given that table says, "they are all Europeans." A collective groan and looks of pity toward the server who grits his/her teeth and goes to take the order knowing she or he will be lucky to get a 10 percent tip. Still, Europeans are very easy to wait on as they don't usually know the language well enough to complain. (Perhaps because this is Arizona they usually always order steaks. Maybe they think there is a cattle ranch behind the restaurant somewhere.)  The English are always polite, not matter what, so that makes up sometimes for their poor tipping. I'm starting to think Europeans really do know how to tip they just pretend they don't know.

Here are servers who were just told that an automatic twenty percent tip will be put on everyones check they have waited on that night. They were also told they never have to roll silverware ever again, they all have medical insurance, and they will never have to go to another mandatory meeting on their days off. Of course, this is just  a dream but let the girls dance until they have to wake up.
 These are two Cuban waitresses. They have waitresses in Cuba! Do people even tip waitresses in Cuba? Times are tough there. They still drive cars from the 1950s and don't have cable television. More importantly, Cuban waitresses actually have to wear a uniform that is uglier than my uniform. So when I start  thinking negative thoughts each time I get a bad tip all I have to do is be glad I don't have to wear yellow and green polyester and wait on tables in Cuba. Or China for that matter.


Stella said...

It's because in Europe, the wait staff are actually paid a decent hourly wage. They don't have to exist on tips and a meager hourly.

Rita A. said...

Perhaps it should be mandatory to be a server sometime during your younger years. I had a short stint in that position and always tip.
We often have a debate about tipping at a Chinese buffet; even one in Arizona.

Anonymous said...

I must say I am a bit confused about how to tip at a buffet. ???

Anonymous said...

Yes, Europeans do not tip at home since the restaurants pay a livable wage. Governments there believe companies SHOULD PAY things like wages to their employees and TAXES. Unlike America where corporations get away with murder and have Republicans to do their bidding and put them above people.

TwoPhxCats said...

I don't know if it is still done in Europe, but when I have been there, a "service charge" was added to every restaurant check. That was the "tip." Naturally, Europeans expect things to be like that here, as we expect things to be like America when we go there.