Personal Tip: Don't!
If you've ever worked as a waiter, a barista, a car washer or one of the many other labor-intensive, entry-level positions full of people expecting patrons to empty their pockets for low effort service, you probably know who I am.
You've glared at me, cursed me under your breath or asked the cook to add a little extra ""seasoning"" to my order (if I happen to be a regular). It's not because my demands are stringent, nor am I spouting lecherous comments about the cut of your work attire.
I don't tip.
At least, I don't tip well under the expectations of society. Not the ones that say every service-industry individual is automatically entitled to a personal donation that is in proportion to the amount of money I am already spending.
And it's sentiment I wish to see echoed in a larger part of this society.
First off, I encourage a tighter fist on tips for practical reasons.
According to a Wall Street Journal article from October 2008, professor Ofer H. Azar of Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev reports that Americans spend $24 billion on tips each year.
Excluding the gratuitous tips by celebrities, fat-cat CEOs and other various wealthy individuals, that's still quite a bit of money.
Break out your Excel spreadsheet and some receipts. How much did you spend in tips last week? Last month? Last year? What else could that cash have gone toward? Gas money? A credit card payment? Any number of things that are just as important to you and your life (or should be) as succumbing to the societal expectation of 15 percent?
Don't let the naysayer tell you this is just about greed, either. There's a principle here that should be upheld in what it means to give someone a tip and why and when you should.
I was raised to believe that a tip was a reward for exemplary service of a job well done. If the tip has completely lost that meaning, or I was erroneously informed to the nature of the built-in costs of eating at a restaurant instead of a Burger King, then I will cease to make any more persuasive arguments. I will accept my status as a cheapskate of Hitleresque moral equivalency for choosing not to tip a server unless I feel that their service was particularly great.
Don't let me tell you to stop tipping, especially if you frequent establishments where servers are particularly personable and prompt.
But Steve Buscemi in Quentin Tarantino's ""Reservoir Dogs"" puts my sentiment quite nicely:
""I don't tip because society says I have to. All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort … But this tipping automatically, it's for the birds.""
— Remy Albillar is an English junior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Related Story: Obama and the tax tipping point [WSJ]