Tipping: An Insult to Waiters Everywhere

changeThere's a scandalous post floating around about tipping. Writer Foster Kamer is calling for the death of tipping, and he has some surprisingly compelling reasons. Here's what he says:

Tipping in its current form is an assault on fairness for employers and employees as well as consumers’ rights. It reinforces an economically and socially dangerous status quo, while buttressing a functional aristocracy.

Whoa! I thought tipping was something you did out of gratitude. But he goes on to quote William Rufus Scott, who in 1916 called tipping “the price of pride ... what one American is willing to pay to induce another American to acknowledge inferiority.”

Oh sh*$, is that really why we tip? The thought just makes my toes curl, but I think he may have a point. Do we tip to reward exceptional service or are we doing it because we don't want to look like cheap jerks? Is tipping a selfish gesture? Do we tip just to make ourselves look good?


Kamer asks other hard questions, like why does a waiter at a posh, tranquil restaurant deserve more money in tips than a harried waitress in a hectic diner? Of course, you could always argue that the best servers find their way to fine dining establishments and the lousy ones end up elsewhere, but I don't think it's quite as simple as that.

Here's one reason why I think a lot of us tip, and apparently it's not something Kamer is in touch with: many of us tip because we've either waited tables or we have friends who have waited tables. Many of us tip out of solidarity, not to say "I am better than you" but to say "I am one of you, and I value your work."

What do you think? Why do you tip?

Image via adam*b/Flickr

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