Has “Tipping” in Restaurants Gotten Out of Hand? 


Let’s begin this article by saying … the writer has spent many days “on her feet” serving people during college days, hoping to get a ten or twenty-five cent tip, and because of this, today, usually tips 20% or more.  To the wealthy, that might sound like a small amount, but … the writer is not wealthy.  She is a middle-class individual who appreciates the hard work and good service restaurant employees provide, even though they receive low pay.  Tips are very important to them … some businesses even take a portion of their tips (Scrooges).  However, after a series of incidents in restaurants recently, the question concerning the sincerity and loyalty of some waiters and waitresses on “tipping” has risen.

 Two incidents come to mind:

 While dining with a friend who picked up the tab with cash, he was given change from two twenty-dollar bills that necessitated his giving all of it back as a tip, requesting additional change or looking like a cheapskate.  He was visibly annoyed by the transaction and stated he had encountered this on several occasions, and felt some workers were trying to take advantage of him.  Because of the manner in which the change was returned to him, he chose to look like a cheapskate.  I had not taken notice of this kind of behavior from restaurant employees, so …to save the day, I dug down in my purse, found a tip that amounted to about 20% of the bill and left it for the waitress.


The following night, I was picking up the tab.  My bill totaled twenty-seven ($27.00) and a little change (under 25 cents).   Again, this waitress was given two (2) twenty-dollar bills.  She quipped, “You need change?”


She returned with a ten-dollar bill, two ones and coins, placed them on the table and walked away.   After completing my meal, I looked at the change for the first time.  Now … it was my turn to be annoyed.  Why didn’t she give me at least two five-dollar bills?  Did she think I was going to leave her a ten-dollar tip on a bill just over twenty-seven dollars?  I began to understand just how my friend felt the night before!  Thoughts that filled my head were “Who does she think she is?  Does she think I am stupid?  This is crap!”  Because I was so annoyed by what appeared to be manipulation, I left only the two dollars on the table and walked out of the restaurant.  My plans were to leave six dollars and the loose coins.  Maybe you would have handled it differently.  All I could think of was … no one likes to feel he/she is being taken for a chump.

Let me give a ‘shout out” to over-zealous waiters and waitresses:

  • No one has to give you anything!
  • You are paid by the restaurant who hires you!
  • You give good service because that is your job!
  • If I believe you are trying to rule my “tip-giving” by giving big bills when you can break them up…you will lose!

Another pet peeve of mine is for the restaurant to add my tip into the bill.  When that is done, I give not a penny more.   It is understandable and agreeable for a restaurant to add the tip into the bill when a group of people is served (that’s a lot of serving), and some people take advantage of “being in a group” and give nothing or almost nothing.

This tipping thing can really be overrated!   At times, people who have cleaned my carpet let me know in subtle ways “they expect a tip.”  This is going too far!   As a teacher in public schools who spent “overtime” hours with students before and after school, during lunch hours and preparing lessons “at home,” even a Christmas gift was seldom received.  Then … I was not in education to receive “tips!”  My job was to help educate children… I knew what the salary was “going in.”

Finally, to the waiters and waitresses who work tirelessly and give great service … I respect and appreciate you!  Thank you for your labors of love!  To those who seek to manipulate “tipping,” remember …it was your choice to take the job!