To Tip or Not to Tip?
TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP?
To tip or not to tip — that is the question.
Disclaimer. In the past, I’ve bartended. I’ve waited on tables. I’m generally very sympathetic to all service industry employees. And I overtip, albeit slightly. My average tip is 20-25 percent for common table service, and usually more when I dine solo. So, I “get it” when it comes to foodservice.
That said, tipping seems to have gotten completely out of hand. Especially here in Las Vegas. Tip jars are EVERYWHERE.
During the COVID pandemic (yes, it’s still the pandemic), I was really sympathetic to those brave souls who handled food and maintained some semblance of normalcy in restaurants. Wherever I ate, we usually tipped a few dollars, even for counter service. Take-out people always got tipped. And delivery people were tipped the same percentages as waitstaff. So, I was perfectly willing to add some percentage for tipping just to make sure the employees were properly compensated. My philosophy is — I’m not wealthy enough to save the world, but I will try to do my part, even if it’s something small.
Unfortunately, tipping now seems to be taken for granted. It’s expected. And, based on my (numerous) recent experiences, it adds virtually nothing to the level of service in terms of attention span or motivation.
Today’s lunch was a perfect example. The rant begins:
This is a lunch place. We come here all the time. Probably 50 visits in 3 years. We’ve even ordered customed-baked cakes. We are what you would call good loyal customers. Unfortunately, the employees are mostly clueless. Ding dong teenagers. So, I might tip a dollar or two for some takeout items, even if it isn’t deserved. Well, today we decided to do BOTH take out and dine in, which isn’t a difficult concept to grasp. Serve us the two Waldorf Chicken sandwiches on croissants, with two crepes, and then bring the box of pastries on the side, which we will eat tonight and tomorrow morning. The bill came to $37.20 and I presented the cashier with two $20s and said “keep the change.” I’m not sure if she acknowledged the tip or said thank you. Okay, so maybe she’s busy with orders.
We sit down. We wait. We wait. We wait a bit longer. 20 minutes pass. Normally, the turnaround here is 10 minutes tops. I look over and see no one has manned the crepe grille yet. I’m starting to think something went wrong.
A few people are in line and I wait for them, so now it’s three minutes later. 23 minutes since I paid. I ask the same lady (three people are working the counter) about our order. Indifferent to any annoyance she caused, a bag is seen at the end of the counter which contains — you guessed it — all of our items TO GO. So, my fucking warm food has been sitting on the counter for at least 10 minutes. Getting fucking cold. Expecting a simple apology was too much, I suppose. She hands me the bag. I decide NOT to cause any scene and simply take our order over the table and we begin unwrapping the boxes. WHERE’S THE FUCKING SILVERWARE?
Okay, now I’m pissed. I make it clear that I’m dissatisfied with the complete indifference to customer service, no gratitude, no apology, and forgetfulness on the simple expectation of silverware for a to-go order (which we said we wanted to eat in the store). Of course, everyone in the place stares at me like I’m the asshole. Got it.
Typically, this is the sort of thing that sets me off and causes me NEVER to return. But Marieta likes the place and wants to return. I suppose if and when we do eat there again, I will NOT be tipping. So, should I tip?
I’d be curious to know thoughts about tipping in casual places and attitudes as to whether or not tipping should be customary and where this ugly trend is headed. All comments are welcome.