I thought I’d written about this topic here before, but apparently not. I thought about this because today I ordered a pizza from Dominos for lunch, which is something that I probably do too often on weekends, and I always give the delivery person a $3 tip. I always place my orders online via their website, and pay for the pizza with a credit or debit card. But I always make sure that I have at least $3 in cash on me, to give to the driver when he or she arrives. Sometimes I’ve given them that $3 in quarters, because that’s all I had on me. Once I gave the driver $5, because all I had on me that day was a $5 bill, and I didn’t want to ask if she had change for that, so I just gave her the whole thing. And I do this because I know it’s expected, so I always tip in the appropriate situations. Although I’ve often thought that the premise of who gets tipped is rather arbitrary. Y’know, we tip the cab driver, but not the bus driver. We tip the the pizza delivery person, but not the Fed Ex or UPS driver. You tip the barber or hair-dresser, but not your doctor. You tip the cab driver, but not the bus driver.
Personally, I am opposed to the concept of tipping. I have to be real clear of what I mean, because I’ve had people jump to conclusions and get mad at me when I say that. Especially people who are, or ever were, waiters. They think I’m saying that I don’t believe waiters deserve to make money or something. That’s not it at all. What I’m saying is that I think the fact that we’ve actually allowed a system where certain professions, like waiters, are expected to be primarily dependent on tips to earn a living, is wrong. The fact that waiters are legally allowed to be paid less than minimum wage by employers, and then work for tips, doesn’t sound right to me. You should be paid by your employer for the work you do. Y’know, when I order a pizza for delivery, Dominos includes a $2.99 delivery fee on top of the cost of the pizza. So I’m already paying for the driver to come to my house. Why should I feel obligated to also tip the driver when they get here? Shouldn’t the $2.99 that I already paid for delivery just go to the driver?
Some places have instituted a “no tipping” policy. But there was an article I read a couple of months ago about a restaurant that banned tipping, and just pays it’s employees a higher wage (which is built into the price of the food). The owner made a good point (I think):
Owner Gabriel Frem told the Los Angeles Times, “We think that if we stabilize the lives of our employees, they can then focus on the customer. If people came to work and didn’t know what they were going to make for the week, that tension would eventually translate to the customer.” (It’s worth noting that this is the first restaurant owned by Frem.) “You don’t have to make a lot of adjustments to your menu,” he said.
Makes sense to me. It seems like he researched the matter and concluded that this was a better option for his employees. However, if you scroll down to read the comments in that article, you’ll see some curious responses. Of course, this being the internet, you get the usual idiots who show up in most online articles these days, so you’ll just have to ignore people who immediately somehow turn this into an opportunity to attack President Obama, who has absolutely nothing to do with this. They’re comparing this policy to COMMUNISM, because “everyone makes the same.” Which is ridiculous hyperbole.
First, I see a couple of people criticizing this by pointing out that they know waiters who make hundreds of dollars a night in tips, far more than they’d make on a regular salary, and so a policy like this would hurt them. I’m sure that’s true for some places. If you work at an expensive restaurant in places like Manhattan or Beverly Hills where rich people and celebrities go to, you may get hug tips, but that’s not every single restaurant or diner in America. I have one friend who works as a waitress at two different places, just to make ends meet. That’s not cool, in my opinion. So in a situation like that, a straight salary is better. If your job is to show up someplace and work for 8 hours, you should get paid for that, and know what you’re getting paid so you can plan your budget, without having to wonder everyday if you’ll make enough to pay your bills.
As for the “then every waiter gets paid the same, and that’s not fair to the ones who work harder” or “what’s the motivation for a waiter do a good job if they’re not dependent on tips” excuse, how is that different than most jobs? Take any office, where people are sitting in cubicles all day. There’s always going to be that one who man or woman who spends most of the day posting on Facebook when they should be working. Ideally the ones who worked harder get noticed by their bosses and those are the ones who get raises and promotions, while the slackers get fired. That’s your motivation. I’d expect that’s the same for any waiter. End the mandatory tipping system, I say.
Just my opinion.