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How Does Tipping Actually Work?

July 28, 2017

Let me begin this piece by saying I do not have an answer for this. This is a question I pose to the world to give me an answer because I just don’t know.

I consider myself to be a pretty good tipper. I cannot recall a single situation in which I did not tip a server at least 15% and more often than not I tend to give 20%. My tipping also goes beyond the customary tipping of a restaurant. I tip cab drivers, I tip barbers, I tip the pizza delivery person, and I even tip when I go to pick up the pizza myself. Some would call it generous. Some would call it foolish. I’m sure I don’t know which side I land on. I can honestly say I would not tip as much as I do if it was not customary. I feel a pressure to fork over some extra money even if I’m not entirely sure what extra thing I’m paying for.

Indeed, the question of who we tip and when is a tricky one. Some people even question why, in Canada, we even tip at all since there is a minimum wage established. People argue that is a waiter gets a tip, why wouldn’t the kitchen staff get a tip since they’re both two sides of the same service. I can say when I worked in a kitchen I did in fact get a share of the tips, and while it’s not like this everywhere, let’s look at another example. A bartender gets a tip, but someone who works at the liquor store doesn’t. They both get a salary which is at least the minimum wage. Does one work harder than the other? What’s the difference that earns one a few extra dollars?

All I can tell is my own opinion on the matter and that is that tipping comes down to one’s own preferences. For waiters, cab drivers, barbers and so forth my opinion is that it’s a tough racket with not a lot of money in it. I know that can be said of a number of occupations, but these ones in particular depend on the amount their customers spend and they are mostly going at it alone without a business to back them up.

There’s also a question of when a tip is actually expected. I think waiters are surprised and even self-conscious when they don’t get a tip, but other than that, I’m not sure how often a tip is expected. Back in the day, I worked at a cold beer store. I worked behind a counter, people would come in and order a case of beer, I would get it from the fridge and give it to them. That was pretty much the extent of my duties give or take. We had a tip jar by the cash register. I don’t know who put it there or whose decision it was. I do know tips were never expected and in fact, generally a surprise.

So to conclude… there is no conclusion. Utter confusion is the conclusion perhaps. This is a topic that mystifies me and one that seems to be different for all people.

What are your thoughts on tipping?

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