How much do you think you should tip the carpenter who builds your house, or the nurse who cares for you through a serious illness, the shoe sales man, the sales lady who drags in mounds of clothes for you to try on?
Oh there are others I could name but by now you are saying, "what are you nuts, they get paid a good wage to do what they do."
Why do they get paid a good wage or decent wage or a better wage then a, say for instance, waiter or waitress? these people do a lot for us many of them more then any waiter or waitress in some cases. Like a nurse, or the poor shoe salesperson that brings out mounds and mounds of boxes of shoes for you to try on.
It does not enter our mind to tip them because we know that, hopefully they are getting better pay then the person who serves us our food.
Today on NPR's Talk of the nation, the topic was, "tipping when money is tight." The host, Neal Conan and his guest, Kimberly Palmer were taking calls from people who depend on tips during this downturn in the economy and asking them how were they managing.
Many of them said they were loosing as much as half of their income due to people cutting back on what they normally leave. A few of the callers who were in the food service industry commented that they felt that if you can not afford to leave a tip, then either you should stay home or not have extras like dessert so that you will have enough for a tip. And by the way Palmer said that the proper tip now is 20 to 25 %.
Hum, I thought, leave up to one fourth of the cost of the service? Not only do I pay a higher price for the food I am now responsible for the employees raise in his wages. Why is it my responsibility to make sure that this restaurant pays their employees a living wage?
I thought of the tip jars that are out at the coffee shop where I stand in line for 10 minutes to get a cup of coffee then stand in another line and wait again for it to be made. Mean time I am watching all the seats in the coffee shop fill up so that when I do get my coffee I have no place to sit. And yet, and yet, I'm expected to leave them a tip for the privilege of waiting. I've done all the work, I should get the tip.
Now, don't think I am a cheap skate. I always leave a tip when I go out to eat, when the waiter or waitress is bringing me my food and gives me decent service. I understand this system and how poorly they are paid. But I think that this system has to be updated.
The comment, you should not go to a fine dinning restaurant without leaving a tip was what made me think. Especially fine dinning. When a restaurant can charge as much a $1000 a head to dine there, why can't they pay their employees a living wage? Why must their customers do this for the owners? What other employer can pay his people below standard wages and expect his customers to make up the difference?
And these guys are in a culinary union! At least I was when I worked in the industry. I had no choice, and they did jack rabbit for us.
When in Holland years back, visiting my brother we were out at one of the many wonderful pubs drinking that great trappist beer. I wanted to pay the tab and when doing so my brother said to me, don't leave a tip. I was flabbergasted as the service was great.
He leaned over to me and whispered, they get paid good wages and don't depend on tips like they have to back home, (Meaning America) their not archaic here.
And that, I believe is the bottom line. Too many business have made themselves successful off the backs of their employees. I would turn that suggestion of. if you can't afford to tip then don't eat out, into, if you can't afford to pay your employees a living in wage, then you should not be in business. I don't believe that any restauranteur would want his patrons staying home because they can't afford to tip. That would just not be good business.
So maybe it is time for the owners to start putting money into the cookie jar and divvy up.