BY MORGAN UNDERWOOD – STAFF WRITER
Who doesn’t love a nice meal out? You get delicious food you don’t have to cook, no dishes to wash afterwards, it’s a dream. There’s just one increasingly controversial aspect to dining out, as well as other services, the tip. Tipping has become quite the gray area in the United States, and leaves many Americans with unanswered questions. When should I tip? How much should I tip? Why should I tip? Etc. There are some societal guidelines to tipping, most people would say that you tip for most services (your hairdresser, you waiter/waitress, your housekeeper, your bellhop, your valet, and more), that 15-20% of the bill is standard in most cases or others believe you should tip more or less based on quality of said service. As to why should a person tip? That is where the issue gains the most controversy.
It is an opinion I have heard from many that you tip when your service is good, the better the service the better the tip. When your service is bad, you tip a smaller amount, only when your service is absolutely awful you leave nothing but then again, in my time working as a server I also met numerous people who didn’t believe in tipping. Rather it was their opinion that an employer should pay their employee a substantial enough wage to account for the missing tip. Although, what many don’t realize is that lack of tip would result in higher price for the service they are enjoying. Especially in industries, such as the restaurant industry, where the federal minimum wage for serving is $2.13 (which was set in 1937 and hasn’t changed since) and tip account for the majority of their income. Either way you will end up paying that tip, whether it is reflected in prices or by the money you leave on the table. This idea that the tip is unfair because it is the responsibility of the employer to pay their employee and a customer is not the employer thus they should not have to “pay extra” and tip, is essentially untrue because your ability to tip set the wage for the employee. I.e. you are deciding how much money your server is going to make at the end of you meal, if you don’t want that responsibility then maybe it’s a good idea to start lobbying the government for higher wages for many workers in the service industry (such as housekeeper/ maids and waiter/waitresses).
This brings us to further issues surrounding the tip, in actuality many in the restaurant industry (as well as other service based industries) do not make a livable wage. As stated earlier the federal minimum wage for a waiter or waitress is $2.13 an hour in the United States versus $7.25 federal minimum wage for pretty much all other industries. A recent statistic from the New York Times stated that more than 50% of servers live in poverty. Currently that is a great movement within the United States to increase the minimum wage, stating that $7.25 is also not a wage which a person can live on, many states have adopted this measure and increased both minimum wages (according to an ABC News article, at the beginning of 2017 states like New York, Alaska, Arizona and others raised their state minimum wage).Historically, the United States was against the original European practice of tipping until after the Civil war. Many affluent American had begun traveling to Europe and picked up the practice bring it back to the U.S. as way to show off their wealth. For quite some time many American were against such an aristocratic practice as to leave money for some as a reward for what one person might deem a “good job.” There were even laws against the act of tipping, because it was believed to be so demeaning, and against anti-aristocratic American values. But, those laws died, and tipping became a normal part of American culture, which as we known remains today.
So it is less of a question of why should you tip, but why are we not paying a livable wage to those working in certain service based industries. If you want to give up your right to tip then get on the phone call your local congressman or congresswoman and join the lobby to increase the federal minimum wage. Impassion them to feel the same way about tipping as you do, tell them that people who work in the service industry should be paid enough so that you don’t have to tip. Until then don’t be cheap live a tip.