Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why Tip?

I've been slinging dishes at restaurants for years now. The job has paid my bills, put me through college and has taught me the basic fundamental of human interaction: make people feel special. If you can utilize those four words and implement them into every contact with another person, the sky is the limit, your success will be unstoppable. We are creatures yearning to feel important, and nothing satiates that yearning like an evening out at a fine restaurant.

As much as I enjoy my job, I don't do it for the hourly wage. Until last year, it was $2.13 here in Ohio. But, with our big pay raise, we're now making $3.41 an hour, which is completely eaten up in taxes and healthcare. I basically haven't actually received a paycheck in four years and thus my bills and college tuition are paid entirely from the expected 20% gratuity. (And I say expected because I bend over backwards for my tables.) Also, 25% of my earned tips are taken every night and given to the bartender, food runner and bussers, so if I expect a 20% tip, I actually only get a 15% tip. Kind of sucks, doesn't it?

All this to say, a restaurant in San Diego has entirely done away with the tipping process, instead opting for an automatic 18% service charge on every table. At first I was a little horrified, but after reading the article, I was slightly envious. The best reason is this: Sunday evening I came in and waited on a party of 9 for over two hours. Their bill came to $350, and after a flawless experience without one thing going wrong, they left me a $10 tip (that equates to 3%). The manager stopped by and the people confirmed that the meal was "perfect" and everything was "outstanding", so what could he do? Force them to shell over 60 more bucks?

I'm a little jealous of that restaurant in San Diego. But, until then, readers, remember that when you go out your server is getting paid almost nothing-per-hour (unless you're in California). And, many restaurants require tipouts of 30%, 40% and even 50% of their tips! You'd be surprised just how often I am told "your service was perfect" and then I'm handed a 10% or 15% tip. Jipping a server on a tip and saying, "You did a great job" is essentially the same as me calling the cable company and saying, "I just love my cable", and then acting surprised when they still expect me to pay up.

(Thanks Anna for the link!)