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To Tip or Not to Tip?

Whenever we go to a restaurant, or the hair salon, or one of several other kinds of establishments, we encounter situations in which we are expected to tip the employees.

Tips have often been a cause of contention, as people feel annoyed at being obligated to tip, or people feel annoyed that they did not get a tip, or didn’t get tipped as much as they thought they deserved.  I’m sure I’m leaving many other scenarios out.

Here’s my two cents.

Of course, people with jobs that traditionally get tipped want to receive tips.  I understand that such jobs are often low wage, and tips can really help them out.  Individuals in low paying jobs like these often complain that they can’t survive without tips.

That said, how does someone’s poor career choice obligate me to give them money?  I think I should make more money, but I don’t expect other people to just give it to me.  If you don’t like your wage, ask your boss for a raise or find a better job.

And before accusing me of being heartless, yes, of course I know what it’s like to struggle financially.  Life is hard.  Don’t whine to me about it to try to guilt trip me into tipping you.  Go whine on your Twitter account if it makes you feel better.

In a sense, a tip is kind of like a bribe.  Tip well, and get better service.

To me, that is simply abominable.  If you have a job, you should do it well.  Period.

I get tips, of a sort.  Around Christmas time, teachers often receive Christmas gifts from their students and those kids’ parents.  Habitually receiving them engenders an expectation to continue to receive them (though mostly I expect to receive boxes of chocolates).  Some families give me nicer and more expensive gifts than others do.  However, if Student A gives me a really nice gift, and Student B doesn’t give me anything, will I give Student A more of my time and higher quality instruction?  No!  Of course not!  That would make me a horrible human being.  I will, of course, teach each student to the best of my ability.

Why should it be different in any other job?

I also don’t understand why certain jobs “should” be tipped.  At a restaurant, I am paying for the food.  A tip is for the service.  But what about say, the person who cuts my hair?  The price I pay is for the act of cutting my hair; why should I give additional money?

If someone goes above and beyond to provide good service, I feel a greater desire to tip.  I don’t mind tipping if I feel I got really good service, or even just respectable service.  What I object to is the expectation of a tip.  Low wages and tradition are insufficient to me to mandate tipping.  A tip needs to be earned.

I’m sure some people reading this will think I’m a horrible Scrooge.  Go ahead and think that.  And don’t comment just to leave your sob story about how your kids will starve if you don’t get tips.

Wow.  That sounded really grouchy, even to me.  I guess that’s what happens when you decide not to sugar coat things.

A tip should be a spontaneous act of generosity, springing from the feelings of goodwill of the person giving the tip.  A cultural expectation of tipping squashes that, and makes the act of tipping a penance instead of a pleasure.

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4 Comments

  1. Mikey G says:

    That is a valid proposition… but I think it morally obligates you to avoid services where tips are customary. Even if you don’t know it, customer service is a refined skill and when I was a server you were going out not just for good food but also a degree of showmanship (you might not know it but I am actually quite agreeable when I’m on the clock), expert logistics (it is not easy to get the food out fresh at a time you actually want it) and with ambiance (I don’t care what you say but you cannot enjoy your food if there is dust on that lamp). Those things have a market value and if they are something you don’t wanto pay for (or you feel is over priced) then get the food to go… but to an environment you know those services are provided and then not pay them because tipping is “only customary” is dishonest.

    But I can only speak to restaurants wher you are actually getting good service. All the other places I don’t know.

    BUUT Also according to my religion it is God who provides 100% of the money we receive and He cherishes a generous givers so think it s better to error on the side of too much rather than too little generosity. But you can ignore that since it has been established we follow unrelated religions 😛

    • Like I already said, I don’t mind tipping – it’s the expectation I don’t like. And the assumption that if I don’t tip generously, it must be because I’m a horrible person and want the server’s children to starve.

      Seriously? Unrelated religions? Get off your soapbox.

  2. Mikey G says:

    I feel free to not tip and think are free to do the same. But in the limited case of restaurants I consider gratuity payment for services and react accordingly. But don’t worry I know you aren’t a horrible person… and really more want it for beer money then for their kids. But what people do with the money they earn doesn’t change the fact that they earn it.

    Would you prefer “unaffiliated”? 😛

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more. I’d rather be tipping for a job well done than tipping so that nobody spits in my food on the next visit. Here is what I’m used to http://acollectionofmusings.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/if-youre-the-waiter-why-am-i-the-one-waiting/

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