Personal tip: don't be that guy

In response to my esteemed colleague Remy Albillar's assertion, printed Friday, that people in the service industry aren't, ""automatically entitled to a personal donation that is in proportion to the amount of money I'm already spending,"" I must state that I emphatically do not agree. The phrase describing waiters, baristas, car washers, etc. as, ""People expecting patrons to empty their pockets for low effort service,"" is the most erroneous. I mean … seriously? Spoken like someone who has obviously never worked for tips in his life.


Understand that working in the service industry is probably the hardest job a person can have. Imagine the difficulty in serving dozens, or even hundreds of people in a day, each one with their own personalities and preferences. Now the only job you have is to juggle them while keeping them all happy and satisfied. Sounds like a piece of cake, right? Oh, I forgot to mention that you're only making $2 an hour, maybe $7.25 if you're really lucky.

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Not only that, but every person expects to be treated like royalty and will hold your tip hostage just in case you don't.


What most people don't take the time to think about is how tipping is not a privilege, but a necessity. The industry has set the standard of paying workers less than the federal minimum wage because of the fact that, theoretically, the extra compensation from tips received will raise their hourly rate well above the standard. Sadly, that's not always the case, as illustrated in, ""Personal Tip: Don't.""   


As customers, we absolutely need tipping. Tipping ensures that good servers will continue to have a job and provide the above average service they do. A server lacking in any facet of the job will likely receive poor tips and consequensely either not be able to support themselves with the poor tips and have to quit, or be fired and replaced by someone better.


This doesn't mean tipping makes you Lord of Old Chicago. As people, we should make an effort to be understanding and not so judgmental. Just because a person doesn't cater to your every need doesn't mean they deserve less than the standard 15 percent. I always tip at least that much, even up to 30% if the service is excellent, but that doesn't mean I won't tip less than 10 percent if the service is awful.


As for the $24 billion Americans tipped last year, it's not as much as it seems.  Perhaps it should be considered that the food service industry employs over 13 million people.  Granted not all are servers or bartenders, some are line cooks, managers, or the people with those cool headsets at the drive through.


Let us say that all the people who deserve tips in America comprised 13 million people; divide 13 million into 24 billion and the number you get is not large at all. You can't forget the people like aestheticians or masseuses, among others, who have gone through years of training to become what they are. You also can't exclude people like car washers just because their job may seem menial or easy to you. I don't know about the rest of you but those guys at Capin Car Wash deserve a tip with the way they comb over my car. Just delicious!


Don't forget the abuse people in the service industry sometimes have to deal with! The amount that servers get heaped on is incredible. Imagine your drinks come late, is that the fault of the server? Perhaps, but it could be because the bartender didn't make them right away. What if your food is undercooked? Is that the server's fault? Most of the time, no, but people don't go yell at the bartenders or cooks. Instead they yell, belittle, insult the server because they are there. If your female server was just sexually harassed by her table across the restaurant, do you think she's going to be bubbly and upbeat when she brings you your food immediately after?  If not, it certainly doesn't mean she's only deserving of a 10 percent tip.


I understand where my colleague is coming from.  Sometimes tipping can be very confusing or frustrating, and sometimes people who linger, or who seemingly expect tips are maddening and occasionally downright rude. If you're not sure when or how much to tip, a little research is a small price to pay to not be the inconsiderate asshole.


I also agree with my colleague Remy on one thing, but with a caveat.  He was raised with the understanding that a tip was a reward for exemplary service, but the truth that he is missing is that, in today's society a very good tip is a reward, but no tip at all or an amount under 10 percent is punitive. So next time you consider leaving a bad tip, try examining why you feel compelled to do so.


Try to remember that tipping is a necessity ­— so cough it up. And in the words of Mr. White from the movie ""Reservoir Dogs,"" ""You don't have any idea what you're talking about. These people bust their asses. This is a hard job.""



— Chris Ward is a senior and an English major. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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