Dare to Ask: Take a few tips from servers
By Phillip J. Milano
Why do we tolerate tipping instead of revolting against it?
You think they run all over Sam Hill getting you drinks, food, refills and
making sure you're happy just for kicks?
J.F., 24, Houston
Go to McDonalds.
Justin, 26, Indiana
What irks me lately is people expecting tips for non-traditional tipping
services. I see tipping jars at Dunkin' Donuts and serve-yourself buffet
Rick, 53, Philadelphia
I work in a buffet-style restaurant and the servers make $2.13 an hour. We
rely on our tips. ... If your child makes a mess, scribbles on the table, throws
food on the floor, think about who has to clean it up.
Melissa, 20, Jacksonville
Have you ever seen the movie "A Christmas Story"? The family is having
dinner, and every time Mom tries to take a bite, someone says, "Please pass the
..." or "May I have some more ..." and she jumps up and takes care of the
request. The narrator says: "My mother hadn't had a hot meal in 15 years."
That's what you're paying for with your tips.
Melody, 40, Kansas City, Mo.
The [abuse] I put up with [from tourists] is deserving of tips: getting
yelled at because they had a [bad] flight, drive, etc.
Kristy, 26, Orlando
It's common for us pizza drivers to take deliveries to known tippers first.
Anyone who is rude or known to stiff is at the bottom of our list.
Sarah, 21, Asheville, N.C.
I worry that if I don't give a tip, the next time I am in the establishment,
they will touch my food in inappropriate ways.
Stryker, 32, Pittsburgh
Add cold pizza and particulates in our chicken marsala sauce to the list of
Thank George Pullman for gratuities in America. When he popularized rail
travel with Pullman cars around the Civil War, he hired freed slaves to do
service work whites wouldn't do, said longtime waiter Paul Paz, past president
of the National Waiters Association and author of "Service At Its Best."
"One rule was you lived on tips only," he said.
That system has endured.
In most states, restaurants can pay wait-staff below minimum wage if it's
offset by tip income, Paz said.
"The restaurant owner would raise menu prices if there were no tips, because
he'd have to raise labor costs. Tipping works to the consumer's benefit, and it
means they have discretion on what they pay for service."
The standard now is 18 percent - 20 or more for extraordinary service, Paz
What about whispers you hear about the types of people who do and don't tip
"That's just stereotyping. I've had disheveled people pull out wads of money
for tips, and execs dressed to the nines leave 5 percent. You never know."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his