The logic behind why we tip, at least in Ontario if not elsewhere, seems to have shifted from what I was taught as a child. It used to be that you gave a tip for good service, otherwise you paid the regular price and they lived with it. The explanation was, essentially, you’re already being paid to bring my food to me–if all you did was bring my food to me, I’m not paying you extra for that. That logic made sense. That logic still makes sense, albeit that’s not the logic that gets tossed around today.
The new logic, which I heard more of after the minimum wage jumped up to $14 in 2018, was that we tip to bring waitstaff and other assorted serving people up to the level of everyone else, since they were still getting about $12/hour. Again, the logic made sense. I mean, I didn’t completely agree with it considering how many of those same serving people basically banked their tips as untaxed income, but it made sense, so I didn’t argue it. Besides it wasn’t worth the headache–I had enough of those from the people who used to pay me. But that was then, and this is now.
Now, at least as of the new year, Ontario’s minimum wage is $15/hour–for everyone. Well, nearly everyone, anyway. But the nearly everyone includes waitstaff and other assorted serving people. So okay, awesome. Playing field’s level, now. The logic wherein we tip to level the said playing field no longer applies. So I can stop tipping now, right? Or, at least, go back to only tipping because it was earned and not because it’s generally expected?
See, here’s the thing. I’m not, explicitly, against tipping. I’m against tipping for the reasons society thinks I should tip, but I’m not against tipping in general. But it stops being a tip when it starts being expected/assumed/in some cases almost required. If you want me to pay 18% more (*) automatically/by default, then sure. I will. Build the 18% you want me to pay automatically into the price (note: not as a line item on the bill that says “tip” or “gratuity” unless you never want me to do business with you again), and we’ll talk. But don’t make that your opening offer if we’re going to have the automatic/assumed tipping conversation. That just makes me want to nope right out of there real fast.
Serving people work their asses off. That’s no lie. The good ones work twice as hard and often barely get a thank you. But that’s the nature of the beast. You work in the restaurant industry, you’re going to, by default, work your ass off. You chose to do that. The people who chose to do that and do that well have earned their tips. The rest should learn from them, not get offended because I didn’t reward them for bringing my food to me nearly cold after it’s been ready for 20 minutes. The people at Starbucks work their asses off as well, but no one’s expecting I tip them on the rare occasion I show up when one of my two drinks from there are in season. Same with the Tim Hortons or McDonalds folks. Sure, some of them are absolutely awesome. The girl who worked the Tim Hortons at the college when I went was pretty much on a first name basis with me for the majority of the time I went to said college. I never tipped her, and she never expected one. So why am I automatically expected to tip the Denny’s waiter who now makes exactly the same as her for, essentially, doing the absolute minimum?
The other issue I have with what tipping looks like in 2022 is rather aptly summarized by Steve, so since he stole my idea for this rant I’ll steal his description of that issue.
And why are we tipping people simply for doing what they’re supposed to be doing and not because they’ve gone above and beyond for us? Cab drivers, for example. The minimum requirements of your work day are to get me safely from one place to another. If you do that, lovely. And thank you very much for being competent. But why am I tipping for that if I’m not supposed to tip, say, the person at the grocery store for bagging my things logically and without breaking any jars? If the driver goes the extra step of helping me find my way inside of a building I’m not familiar with or the grocery person helps me carry things some distance, that’s a tip. Otherwise it’s just you doing your job, and the entire reason I’m expected to tip is because your employer doesn’t want to pay you properly.
Cab drivers, Uber/Lyft drivers, delivery people… all of these automatically expect a tip, and are almost insulted when they don’t get one for doing the absolute minimum required for their job. If you drop me off somewhere I’ve never been and I need to find my own way in, or if you drop me off somewhere and I know exactly where I’m going, and therefore don’t need you, no tip for you. If you’ve pinged me to notify me you’re here with my food, but I have to go downstairs to pick it up from the lobby where you left it on the floor because you couldn’t be bothered to press the 4 buttons that would have told me to open the damn door, no tip for you. Also if I have to put a jacket, shoes and a mask on to meet you in the parking lot because it’s cold and you don’t want to leave your car, no tip for you–in fact, you should probably be tipping me. But why is it that it’s still pretty much automatically expected? Have we, as a society, become that spoiled?
You’re already getting paid to do the job. If you work in a restaurant, you’re now getting paid the exact same as the guy who bags my groceries–unless that guy’s a student, but I mean presumably you have higher standards than comparing yourself to a student. If you’re delivering my food to me, I’m already paying you a delivery fee for doing that–and all the apps basically say the entire delivery fee goes to you. Now, we can argue whether or not the delivery fee is high enough, but the point is, that’s the price of the service you’re offering. In both cases, that’s the price. If you do the minimum required to offer that service, then I will happily pay that price–but I’m not, on your life or mine, paying more than that price. If you want me to pay extra, I want you to do extra. That’s how this thing works. Or should, in a functioning society where just showing up isn’t celebrated as going above and beyond.
Waitstaff and other serving people have gotten the short end of the stick for years. I get it. But they’re not anymore. So let’s drop the act of making up for them getting the short end of the stick. Deal? If you want to earn more than minimum wage as a server, put forth more than minimum effort. Or go work at a restaurant that will pay you more than minimum wage–and will price their food accordingly. I hate saying it this way, but it’s the truth–minimum effort begets minimum pay. Solve the one, you’ll solve the other. Don’t solve the one, no tip for you. And the rest of you need to talk to your employers about not being paid enough. That’s not my responsibility.
(*): Who in the hell decided that 18% was a good idea as a suggested minimum for a tip, and why are they still employed? I mean, you may think your service is worth an extra 18%, and you may be right. But that’s not your choice–that’s mine, and trust me, I’ve rarely received service that was worth an extra 18% on the bill. Your employer may have decided that your service is worth an extra 18%, but that’s your employer’s choice–and your employer’s responsibility. If they want to give you an extra 18%, then they should pay you an extra 18%, not leave that up to me. By trying to pass the 18% on to me, they’re telling both you and me that they think you should be getting paid more but they’d rather not. If I were you, I’d find a new employer. Since I’m me, I’m not paying your employer’s 18% increase. Now, if I get *really* good service, I might do 15. But I also rarely get *really* good service. Hint: *that’s* probably a you problem.