It would appear as though we are living in the era of “Tip-gate” type crises in the restauranting world. First with the blatant hoax of the $1.33 tip left by a “member of the 1%” at True Foods Kitchen in Newport Beach and then the firing of the waiter who publicized the extremely generous tip he received from ex-Colts QB Peyton Manning by posting it online. With so much attention being given to our fiscal behavior at the conclusion of our dining experience it is has fallen once again upon my shoulders to put the kybosh on this topic before it spirals out of control. Let us examine what it means to give someone a tip. What is a tip? It is supposed to be an additional amount of money that is left by the customer at the end of a meal to commend the server for the attentive service they provided. It is by definition a gratuity in all senses of the word, a generous financial extension that we, the consumer, are willing add to the check for the service that was provided by our wait staff during our meal. It is not supposed to be a surcharge that is tacked on at the end of the meal that we are forced to pay. But somehow society has deemed a tip to be a necessary compliment to the already inflated price we are paying to dine at these establishments when we go out to eat. This should not be the case. They are already being paid a salary to do their job. It is up to them to do that job above and beyond the call of duty, and when that occurs, they receive fair compensation in the form of a tip. Diners should not feel that it is compulsory for them to leave a tip every time they go out to eat whether or not the service warrants one.
Who doesn’t love to go out to dinner? After having a bad week at the office, nothing gives me more pleasure than going to Flemmings, ordering a New York strip, a glass of wine, and letting all of my worries disappear down my throat and into my stomach in the form of a hunk of cow cooked to medium perfection. And at the conclusion of the meal when it comes time for me to tip the waiter or waitress that has just given me impeccable “Flemmings service,” those of you who have dined there know that the service at Flemings is beyond reproach, I do not mind tipping for services rendered. But tipping just to tip is as antiquated as living in caves, owning pet rocks, and disco. Tipping some snot-nosed, tight pant wearing, emo, “too cool for school” waiter who can’t remember who ordered what at the table and who makes you wait 20 minutes to get a refill of your beverage does not deserve the positive reinforcement of a tip for his shitty service. That is where I draw the line. We have become a nation of doing archaic, ritualistic deeds because that is how they have always been done. The idea of tipping just to tip has got to stop. Tipping needs to be earned by doing your job above and beyond what was asked of you.
There needs to be a happy medium between going out to dinner at fine dining establishment like Flemmings or Ruth Chris than going to Applebes or TGI Fridays. At either place I am spending my hard earned money and I expect to have a level of service that would make me the customer want to return and dine there again. But if the service sucks, the waiters are rude, and the food is whatever, well I don’t think I should be forced to tip since I am already paying for their service in the price of my food. The idea of a guaranteed tip is ridiculous if the service doesn’t meet the standard that the customer expects. Especially when most of the servers don’t do their job well enough to necessitate a tip. And I love to tip, I over tip actually. Like the clip above muses, why is it that certain dining establishments are deemed tipable and others are not? The people at Wahoo’s where I eat at least once a week aren’t supposed to get a tip, even though they bring the food to your table and are willing to provide for you anything you may need. I always tip them. Always. They are doing their job not to earn a tip but because they are truly trying to make your dining experience a good one. That is the whole definition of a waiter deserving a tip.
The truth is that I find that a lot of the wait staffs I have come across could care less about their trade. I go to nice restaurants, and those people are amazing servers. It is their main job, their livelihood, it is their craft, and they have taken the time to master it. They make the dining experience an enjoyable one, so that when I leave my standard 22% tip I don’t mind because these people have earned their tip. They went above and beyond the call of duty; they put in that extra added effort I am looking for, and because of that I am willing to reward them for it. I am not saying you need to stiff your waitresses and waiters by not tipping. I am not saying that you should stop going out to eat if you don’t want to tip. I am just saying that the service that we receive should match the tip that is left.
I know nothing is going to change, that is not my objective with this article. My objective is to inform, to dispense knowledge, and an attempt to put both diners and servers on notice. We are watching. Since times are tough financially our voices are most loudly heard through the money that we spend. Our dollars are now more than ever more precariously spent where we deem most worthy. And as a consumer you should realize that if the service sucks you should have no qualms about leaving a smaller percentage tip. However, the converse is true as well. Make sure you tip generously when you receive outstanding service. This is how we let the wait staff know what kind of job they are doing. No more just handing out tips willy nilly because someone at some point in time decided that that was how it was going to be. Like the name of Tom Morello’s band suggests, Rage against the machine.