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

trends, eating out


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

kt2ba... kt2babies

as someone who is a waitress I tend to tip more than the average joe, however if my service sucks then I will leave an average 12 -15% or less depending on the situation.

bless... blessedquiver

I personally tip, usually above and beyond if warranted, because I have worked in the service industry. It sure isn't a pride thing, it's a respect thing.

ginnylyn ginnylyn

Here's why I tip...because I know what its like to work ur butt off so someone else can enjoy their dinner without having to do a d*mn thing in return. Yeah I'm a waitress but I don't get payed top dollar to sit on my butt and play around with some computer or paperwork. Your brain is probably filled with ideas and dealines for that big project or report that you have to finish before five o'clock. Maybe you get stressed out, maybe you argue or play boss to others...but are you on your feet sometimes 8 hours running around for someone else? Do you get payed $2.65 a hour and only hope and pray that your tips pay the next utility or food for your kids? Perhaps we can "better" ourselves...but college ain't cheap and not everyone comes from a  parent who plans your college fund eighteen years ago. And with economy in the pits right now...who knows when that big company hires again. You might think I'm jaded and uneducated, but I believe that if you can go out and spend 30, 40, or 50 dollars on food you didn't do a single thing for, then you can afford that 5 or even 10 dollar tip. And I'm trying to be optimistic because in my state the average tip should be 18%, not 15%, but most wouldn't know that unless they've been there. I live in a state where working labor is the main source of employment.  Think what you like but solidarity runs in my mind like blood to my heart.

nonmember avatar Ashley Smith

I will admit that I dont always tip, but I also live in a state where waiters get paid minimum wage ($8.55/hr) and I'm sorry but I know that they make more per hour with tips than I do and yes their jobs do suck. But as someone who works for the state dealing with the type of clients I deal with on a regular basis and being called every name in the book and even receiving threats because I have to follow policy and they dont agree with it, I deal with just as much crap as they do.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I tip because I KNOW how much servers are paid by the hour.  I made about $2 an hour (yes, less than minimum wage) and ALL of that was taken out in taxes.  At the end of every night, you must claim to have made at least 10% of your sales, regardless of how much people actually tipped you.  That means, if you've had a bunch of crappy tables that tip you $2 on a $50 check (you people know who you are) you actually work for NOTHING.  I haven't had to wait tables in YEARS, but I ALWAYS tip at least 20-25% unless the server really sucked.

krmom110 krmom110

When I first was working, I was in food service/cocktail waitress.  An excellent tip was 15%.  Now that would be an insult.  We took the orders, brought drinks, attended our tables, presented the check and tried to personally assure our customers of a wonderful meal.  We had somewhat of a "relationship" with our table.  Now one person takes your order, another brings your drinks to your table yelling "did you have the wine or the martini" , then three or four other people show up at your table with your food shouting "who had the spaghetti?!"   It doesn't feel like personal service worthy of a 20-25% tip.  I don't know  how much more we are to be expected to tip.  30-40-50% of our meal? And what' with the tip jar at every counter?  Just pouring a cup of coffee and ringing it up should not necessitate a tip.  I know what it's like to wait tables, I know it's a hard work.  But tipping should be determined somewhat by the level of service, it shouldn't be just expected by the server for zero effort at taking care of their customers.


I used to be a server. I still tip way above average. Not for bad service, of course. I know what things to look out for. (I.E. Is the server really busy, or are they just being lazy?, Did I have everything I needed? If not, did I get it the first time I asked?, etc.) There have been times where I have NOT tipped because I know what is an excuse, and what isn't. It's not about not making ourselves look bad. It's about  providing the server with compensation for the service they're giving me. They usually have to tip at least the buss boy, too. Anyone who doesn't tip just because they are cheap should make their own dinner, and stay away from these poor, hard working people. The server doesn't deserve to be stiffed because you're cheap. :)

ethan... ethans_momma06

I tip because it's expected, because the servers wage is based on that tip, and I tip better or worse depending on quality of service.

jecke... jeckellette

I tip for many reasons. I will not tip for crappy service though. I don't go out a lot at all, and normally, not to places that would require leaving a tip...but when I do, I try to tip well if I can afford it.

My reasoning...maybe be a little off the wall here. When I was young...probably 18, fresh out on my own, I needed to take a taxi somewhere...not very far, but the tab was over 11 dollars. I paid my fair and got out and didn't look back. It was later, that I learned that you're supposed to tip cab drivers. I had no idea that I was supposed to do that, and felt absolutely horrible about it. What if that gentleman driving the cab was in real need of that tip to feed his children, or keep his electricity turned on...and maybe had to do without something because I had no idea I was supposed to tip him...(for overpriced service anyway, but that's not neccarily here nor there)

So now, I kind of try to make up for it when I am in a position where I should leave a tip and am able to and try to tip more than what the average person would...or at least as much as I can afford to leave for a tip. This cab ride was at least 6 years ago, and I STILL feel terrible about not tipping the driver. I hope he can forgive me.

heart... heartsandskulls

i tip becasue im a waitress. If the service is exceptional i always tip 20-30%. I know what its like having to bust your butt and only get paid an hourly wage of 2.13 an hour.

1-10 of 47 comments 12345 Last