Thursday, January 09, 2014

Why Not Tipping Your Waitstaff Is Inexcusable

From AlterNet:

Oh, but you don't have it in your budget to tip your server?

Then it would seem that you, in fact, don't have the money to treat yourselves after all.

My friends, if you have 35 bucks to drop on a meal, but you don't have the 7 dollars to leave a 20 percent tip, then what are you doing in a restaurant in the first place? You need to hire a financial adviser (well, maybe see if you can get a free consult) because it's just plain unwise to blow your entire net worth on a couple of entrees at Applebee's. Save your 35 dollar nest egg, run to Walmart, buy a box of spaghetti for a dollar, and enjoy a home cooked meal.

More here.

Here's the deal.  In the end, it is the restaurant industry which bears the lion's share of responsibility for this awful situation.  Decades ago, they used lobbying muscle to get laws passed allowing them to pay servers well below minimum wage.  Indeed, I almost never receive an actual paycheck.  In theory, the $2.13/hr. I get is eaten up by payroll taxes, or so I'm told, resulting in no paycheck.  I will grant that it is very kind of my employer to pay my fairly low taxes for me, but the bottom line, really, is that I am effectively NOT PAID by the business which ostensibly employs me.  Instead, the customer pays me directly, not my "boss."  The restaurant industry, through legalistic sleight-of-hand, and clever manipulation of American social custom, has effectively pulled off the ultimate capitalist coup: free, or virtually free, labor.

Good for them.  I guess.  But the enormous problem with this, I mean, apart from the fact that the restaurant industry somehow gets free front-of-house labor, which is appalling in itself, is that servers are, in essence, lowered to the level of the homeless street person who wipes your windshield at intersections.  That is, we must grovel for these sinisterly euphemized handouts known as "tips."  And it really is groveling sometimes.  At any given moment, there is absolutely no guarantee that we will be paid for the work we do.  A grumpy customer, a misunderstanding, ill prepared food, any one of a thousand different scenarios, all completely out of the server's control, might result in lost wages.  So you've really got to be on the ball with your ass-kissing or you might not get the money you've rightfully earned.  Needless to say, this is totally unjust, and it needs to change, the sooner the better.

But just because this is all mostly the restaurant industry's fault doesn't get the bad tipper off the hook.  Even though stiffing your waiter is perfectly legal, and even though restaurants have created the situation making it all possible, when you leave a bad tip, or no tip at all, YOU ARE STEALING MY LABOR.  No way around it.  You're benefiting from my service without any financial compensation for me.  It's larceny, albeit larceny for which you will never be prosecuted.  But just because a crime is legal doesn't mean it's not a crime.  You are stealing my labor.  And that makes you a thief.  A filthy piece of shit.  Scum of the earth.  And if you ever sit in my section again, I WILL REMEMBER WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO ME.  And you will get the service you deserve.

Don't try to tell me my service was "bad."  I'm really good at what I do, or I wouldn't have lasted in this field for as long as I have.  That is, bad servers get fired.  So talk to management, if you must.  Get another server if you've ended up with one of those bad waiters on their way out the door.  But don't concoct fantasies of how bad my service was in order to justify saving a few bucks.  You're ripping me off.  Plain and simple.  I worked for you, and you're fucking me over.  So fuck you.  I promise, I swear, that your next experience with me really will be bad.

What comes around goes around, mother fucker.