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To Tip or Not to Tip?!?

Marion Charatan

Posted on December 22, 2021 12:19

1 user

Remember the show 'What Would You Do?' It's easy to judge others--but it's possible we'd do the same thing in their shoes.

The scenario seemed routine --a family goes out to dinner pre-holiday, enjoys their meal; they thought the service was adequate, paid, and went home. But the wrinkle, according to an irritated restaurant server who posted his angst for the whole world to see on TikTok, was that he was left a chintzy tip. Was it appropriate to complain? I had to think this one over carefully. 

Elizabeth Rose wrote, in The Daily Dot, that the group went to Applebee's in Staten Island, NY, and ordered a meal that cost a total of $73.45 and left a $6.55 tip with a handwritten note on the register slip: "You was great, holidays are just rough right now." According to the author doing the math, an 18 percent tip would have been double that, totaling out at around $13. 

The posting elicited over 1,171 comments, ranging from 'if you can't tip, don't go out to eat; to 'at least they left something;' to 'don't blame the customer, it is up to the restaurant owner to pay you a living wage.'

When I go out to eat now, I often sit outside because there is less risk with the realities of Covid. Pre-pandemic, it never occurred to me to think about how close I was sitting to another person. The most recent place where I dined inside with my family was a Thai restaurant that employed robots to bring the plates to the table- truly no contact for a 'new world' dining experience. 

I always tip servers fairly well-around 18 to 20 percent. One time when I had abominable service and the server was plain rude to my guest and me, I only left a ten percent tip. But that is rare for me. I was a server myself in New York briefly when I was a college student; I know you work hard and rely on tips. 

Times are different now. People have been heavily restricted, and normal activities are limited. Perhaps the person who left the small tip at Applebee's had lost a job or work hours. Even though I can certainly empathize with a server in that position, I think I would have given the customer a pass and been of the mindset, at least they put a note on my check. 

If I could not tip adequately, I would not go out. But in these challenging times, I can't judge people who eat at a restaurant and tip what they can. Supporters of the customers commented that they just needed a family night out in stressful times. I would hope the server gets tipped appropriately from most other people.

Ultimately, I would like to see restaurants offer a living wage to their staff, so they don't have to rely on tips. But from owners' perspectives, it has been impossible to keep employees when the risk of Covid is a stark reality, and the restaurant industry has been hit so hard with the loss of profits.

Marion Charatan

Posted on December 22, 2021 12:19

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