As you all know, I go to a lot of restaurants. Probably way more than I should, but hey, who doesn't love going out to eat, socializing and having a good time? When I go to restaurants, I eat my food, get the check and look at the most annoying/dreadful part of my meal-the tip amount. I never know what to put and neither does the person that is usually eating with me, whether it be family, friends, enemies, you name it.
Everyone then proceeds to take out their smartphone and do the old percent calculations thing, as if they planned to put that amount on their bill as their tip. Most people just opt to go lower than the 15, 18 or 20 percent that their calculator just spat out after doing some serious number crunching and sweating for three minutes. After hearing about the history of tipping during a podcast that included Aaron Task & Restaurant tycoon Danny Meyer, who started Shake Shack and a host of other eateries around the United States, I began to do further research about tipping and where it's headed. Upon gathering information and having deeper thoughts of my own, I have been taken aback about the sheer thought and action behind tipping, leading me to a few points as to why I am done tipping and you should be too.
Tipping has become annoying and adds unnecessary stress to our lives. Think about a meal you ate with a friend or loved one. A meal that included eats that were locally-sourced, plentiful and priced relatively well. Now think about the emotional distress that ensued once your check arrived because you are trying to figure out how much extra money you should spend for basically getting your food in a timely manner and free refills on your Diet Pepsi. (Anyone who drinks those should stop, as they are worse than regular soda. Wait, regular soda is also bad for you, yikes.) Why am I paying a restaurant extra money for great service, something that should exist anyway?
When I worked for the Milwaukee Bucks as a Guest Service Representative, no one gave me a tip for providing them great service while they were at the game. (Granted that was not allowed, but that just shows you the underlying issue here.) The restaurant and sport industry have similar parallels including entertainment of some kind, being able to socialize, and of course, eating food under one roof. Food options might be sky high at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but at least they are taking into account the numerous variables that inflate these prices and do not make you tip. Whenever I see a tip amount line after buying something at a small ice cream stand within this same arena, I scoff and proudly put a line through it, as if to say "I showed you who's boss" and then proceeding to feel guilty as I go back to my seat.
Another reason to stop tipping: Its roots (pardon the pun) stem from a system that is connected to slavery and exploitation of numerous races, cultures, genders and is downright wrong. To go into greater detail, below is a quote from the Washington Post by Roberto Ferman about tipping and explains where some of its origins come from:
"In fact, among the six states that passed tipping bans, five of them were southern states, and it was based on this idea that black workers were the only workers making tips, because there was this idea that you only tip inferiors. That is what I mean when I say the origins are noblesse oblige. The origin is that you tip an inferior. When the practice came to the United States, the newly freed slaves, the black workers, were the equivalent of the proletariat in the feudal s system."
If that quote does not speak to you, I don't know what else will especially considering minorities still are given positions in restaurants that pay lower wages than their non-black co-workers. One thing I try not to do is to partake in customs just because it is tradition. I like to do my research, and more importantly, have valid reasoning as to why I'm doing it. Unfortunately, tipping is something that I have been victim to always doing, because well, it's always been done. When tipping arrived in America, something else came here with it-slavery and discrimination that women now have to deal with when they're working as waitresses as well. To be clear, I am not here to discuss race or gender relations, but here to inform you about the practices we have perpetuated for some time and should think about our actions the next time we go to a restaurant and tip based off the person serving us food, a perfect way to dive into my next segment.
Even if you think tipping is acceptable, you are tipping the wrong person. How many times do you base your tipping amount according to the service of the waiter or waitress, who is simply transferring your food from the kitchen to your table? I'll answer that for you-every time. Do you even know who made your food? It was the cook, if I am not mistaken, yet we are not really tipping them because they're out of sight out and out of mind. We might say, "Man, that was excellent," but we won't go into deeper thought about this hierarchy within the workplace or consider it when tipping. Yes, we as customers interact more with the person serving us our food, but they are not making it. Yet, we continue to tip them because we know that these servers are getting paid crumbs just for the off chance someone like yourself, hands them a bill with Ben Franklin, Andrew Jackson or even Harriet Tubman's face plastered on it. (2025, wait on it.)
While I do tip my barber, drivers who takes me to airports from hotels (services where I am able to see the elbow grease and finished product), and donate to various charities when I see fit, I am done tipping at restaurants. I do not know how that money is dispersed, if the person who served me even gets that money, or if a company even allocates this money correctly to their servers. What I do know is most of these same servers at Comet Cafe, Hi Hat and Coffee Makes You Black are getting paid less per hour than the $10 you gave them as a tip, and that is simply wrong.
How is it acceptable that employers can pay servers as little as $2.13 an hour, as long as they are able to get tipped? That is ludicrous. Some of you reading this might work at a higher-end restaurant and be fine with this circumstance, but there are other people out there who may not get a $50 tip from a retired, wealthy individual who is able to do this and not break his or her bank. If we all stopped tipping restaurants, that is when we can make a difference. We would force restaurants to create an environment where employees actually want to provide good service regardless of their paycheck or added incentives while also raising the minimum wage to ensure people aren't paid in pennies and dimes for their services. Food prices would obviously be higher, but you would be paying the few extra bucks as a tip anyway so it is a win-win for both parties.
Think about it: if a restaurant raised their food prices by 15, 18 or 20 percent and got rid of tipping, would you eat there? I'd be the first person in line. An owner of a restaurant in Maine did just that, along with Danny Meyer, the aforementiond restaurant CEO who thought of this move as a positive change to the restaurant industry and how hospitality is delivered to customers. These are two recent examples that show owners are starting to pay attention to this issue of tipping, and we as customers should too. We should expect top-quality service whenever we are interacting with and consuming brands, and restaurants are no different. So together, let's think about the history and art of tipping, why we do it and try to create change instead of giving it.