These past few weeks have seen an onslaught of vigilante Web sites, Facebook pages and blogs calling for abolishing tipping altogether because of how "the system isn't working."
1. Really? With everything else going on in our country, THIS is the topic of most gravity on which we should focus?
In between making vegan goodies on your hearth & checking in on your gifted children at their Montessori schools, you might have neglected to realize that our country is in multi-fold crises economically, internationally, socially, politically, educationally, and environmentally. Innocent people are being shot out of boredom. Our unemployment rate continutes to soar. Gays, blacks, women and many other minorities are continually fighting for necessary social change. We're running our environment into the ground. Our health care system is about to undergo a radical change that will affect everyone in this country.
And yet you people fixate on this, the means by which people to whom you'll never be able to relate earn their living? Read a little less GOOP and a little more relevant news. What's next on your agenda of uninformed civilian action? Making sure movie theaters stop selling sodas in lieu of organic pomegranate juice? Wake the fuck up and put your Pinterest passions into something that actually matters.
2. And what exactly do you propose to enact your "base salary" change, hmm?
Is there some sort of National Restaurant Organization with which I am unfamiliar, one that has the jurisdiction to enforce policy across the globe in each and every restaurant? This is an odd pipe dream, one that has absolutely no means of being enacted universally. What do you propose, that the government get involved and begin regulating the infrastructuce of server income? Or do you feel that, with your impassioned and wholly uninformed pleas, restaurant owners collectively will see the light and implement this new system solely because you made a fucking Buzzfeed on why tipping doesn't work?
3. How is the current system not working?
I've read all manner of inaccurate claims as to why tipping doesn't work. Server bias, customer bias, how tipping habits remain the same regardless of the quality of service, etc. I've worked in multiple restaurants across three different states, from upscale, overpriced sushi in Santa Monica to pizza made by pot-smoking hippies in Columbia, Missouri. My co-workers have been a diverse mix of white, black, gay, handicapped, elderly, obese, attractive, intelligent, etc. Not one of them ever said, "You know I really wish we'd do away with this tipping system and go for a lump salary." And while tipping might be a system that is sometimes unfair (to both customer and server), I have yet to hear a substantial account of how tipping has become an actual problem. It's not like this system has been recently forced on us; the terms "tip" and "gratuity" predate the 18th century. And in speaking with non-server friends and family in preparation for this post, not one of them of saw a need to change the current system.
4. Oh you think an across-the-board salary will quell the alleged "problem?"
Tipping isn't just paramount for the pockets of servers; it's also the means by which bartenders, bus boys, hostesses, food runners, captains and someliers make a substantial portion of their living. Servers tip out these people for their time and effort. If we increase a server's income, are we going to do the same to accommodate the other hard-working employees? In doing so, realize that, because of our floundering economy, food and drink prices will likely increase in a time when people have less money to spend, not more. Many restaurants will inevitably fold in having to increase revenue for staff.
5. Servers and restaurant owners should call the shots on how their incomes are earned, not the uninformed customer.
Let's say I walk into your place of business - your overpriced chintzy dog clothing boutique or your boho thrif store - and decide that I don't like how I'm to pay you, so - without knowing a single thing about the ins and outs of your business - I decide to do away with a structure that's working just fine as it pertains to your income, because I see it as an inconvenience to me. You'd hop back on "Being Liberal" or Huffington Post to vent and bemoan how unfair it is that someone detached from the day to day or your work wants to change how you receive your income, your ability to pay rent, buy groceries, support yourself through your other endeavors. You'd have a big bug up your butt, and you know it.
6. Your idea is a moronic one. Here's why.
Whether or not you approve of how servers make a living, the fact remains that we've chosen this temporary vocation for a reason. We count on the current structure and all its variations, whether it's tip-pooling or walking out of work with cash in hand each night. Also, while you only hear about the 15% or so of awful customers which with I deal, the other 85% normally tip 20%, or more. And that's of their own volition. No one's forcing them to be generous. They have the money to spare, they were impressed with the service, and therefore it's the customer's prerogative to tip as they see fit. Like it or not, servers WILL work harder for people who reward their multifaceted efforts. And if you think tipping is currently the only "unfair" means by which people are paid, I'd like to be the first to tell you that the world is flat.
Should we in fact move to this suggested structure of restaurant owners paying their servers a flat salary, I promise you the quality of service will diminish. I laugh at these poorly researched articles that say, "My restaurant went to a non-tipping policy, and the service actually got better!" Where, Cracker Barrel? Let's say I have a difficult table. Not a rude table, but a difficult table. If I sense that appeasing their demands will increase my tip, I am going to go above and beyond to make them happy. If I am paid the same regardless, I will not give a shit about their entitlement. They'll be unhappy, I'll be unhappy, and no one wins. No one ever said tipping is "fair," per se; but it's not like it's a secret that servers work harder for more generous customers. Don't like it? Take out.
I'm still baffled by the origin of this non-tipping suggestion. And notice, please, that these pleas never come from someone who actually works in a restaurant, but by entitled people on the peripheral with nothing better to do than make a race, class, or political issue out of everything. Now including tipping.
Don an apron and work in a restaurant for a few years; then I might listen to your tipping suggestions. Until then, shut the fuck up.