Wednesday, July 21, 2010


What I don't get is tipping etiquette these days.
When I was younger, and not paying for my meals, I never paid much attention to tipping. Although I must admit, there is an incident I remember where my dad didn't tip the waitress and I was mortified. I thought it was so rude and that we'd get in trouble.
Even today if I leave a bad tip, I have visions of the waitress running after me and berating me about being a complete jerk. I'm still very hesitant to not leave some kind of tip, but I'll be damned if it's not because there are times when people don't deserve nothing. I am a pretty easy person to figure out in order to get a tip. Get to me quickly, be friendly, get my order right and get my cheque quickly. It's really a pretty easy thing from my perspective though I get that everyone has a bad night.
The best service I had was a fantastic bistro in Grimsby. My guest and I had a fantastic server who was friendly, funny and really catered to us. I had no problem leaving him a $20 tip. But contrast that with the woman I had last night. She was prompt in coming to us, getting our drinks and reasonable in getting the food, but the problem was getting the bill. THis was a big issue because I was trying to get to another store before it closed and that store was about 60 km away and I had to travel over 3 different but extremely busy highways that could be dead stopped at any time. It took 20 minutes and me flagging the waitress down to get the bill.
Me: "Can I get the bill please. I've been waiting like 20 minutes "
Her: "Oh sure. Here you go," she said pulling the bill from her apron pocket. "I didn't hear you ask for it."
This didn't sit well with me for a number of reasons.
  1. It was a single bill and my friend, who was in the bathroom when the waitress finally gave me the bill, had asked for split bills.
  2. The very fact that we both said we didn't want anything else and the fact we asked for a split bill should be indication that we did in fact ask for the bill - 20 minutes prior.
It was this incident that really made me question whether she deserved a tip. Left to my own devices, I probably would've left either a small tip (a huge insult from what I've heard from waiters on call-in radio stations) or none at all. I brought the thought up to my friend and she said, "Oh I don't care. I just press the %15 and let the machine figure it out."
Well, if one of us is going to tip and the other isn't then I really feel like a cock. I suck up my reluctance and tip the %15, which was only about $3.50, but I really felt like she didn't deserve it - especially because she blamed me/us for her cock up!
And this is the other thing about tipping that I really hate. The fact that if you're paying via credit card or debit, the waiter brings you the "debit machine" and stands beside you as you pay your bill and face that fateful moment when it asks how much you want to tip. IF I don't want to tip at all (keeping in mind my mind's eye vision I described earlier) I feel awkward and a huge pressure to tip something - and if it's low to run like hell. I really do hate it.
I hear in Europe tipping is an offense punishable by a slap with a fish Monty Python style. And maybe that's something we should start to adopt here. Tips are expected here and we're made to feel guilty for giving a bad one or none at all, but honestly there are times when they just aren't deserved. Here are some examples of times when I dont think tipping is necessary: bad service, when you pick-up take out or when you only get a single beer or drink. If all you have to do is pour one beer, which is part of your job, why should I tack on an extra $1.50 to an already over-priced drink just because you did that? There is one thai place that I frequent and often times I just order take out - be it I call it in or show up and order - and all the waitress has to do is write the order down and bring it to the back. She doesn't really have to wait on me. I have a real problem tipping when I'm spending my gas to get my dinner and not taking up a spot in your restaurant and forcing you to wait on me. I feel a bit guilty, but damnit, it's just madness.

I realize that the tips are the lifeblood of not only the waitress, but often times, the hostess, dishwasher cook and bathroom cleaner. I get that. I get that perhaps an extra $3.50 to me is really not THAT much, but it means a lot to the waitress - including possibly making their rent, but that should just ensure that they do their best to meet my simple needs.

I know full well that it's often times a thankless and horrid job. It's often performed by people who are simply trying to get by or pay for school. I get all that, but I really think that should make them more determined to ensure they get a tip and not rely on society imposed guilt to get one.

I just don't get tipping anymore and how others deal with it. Let me know how you deal with tipping.

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