Tipping culture in America has become ridiculous.
When did we suddenly become expected to tip every single worker everywhere? It’s like I can’t go anywhere or buy anything without some asshole trying to shake me down for a tip. Nowadays everyone and their mother is expecting a huge tip just for doing the basics of their job. I rang you up, tip me 15%. I brought out your food, refilled your drink once, and asked if you needed anything else, tip me 30%. I pumped your gas even though state law requires me to do it for you, tip me 20%.
I understand tipping your waitress. I understand tipping your bartender. I understand tipping your pizza delivery driver. I understand tipping your movers. I understand tipping your Uber driver. I understand tipping your bookie. I understand tipping the special needs guy at the supermarket who helps you carry your groceries to your car.
What I don’t understand is why I’m expected to tip the cashier at the convenience store, the person who rang me up at the pizza shop when I picked my order up myself, or the guy in New Jersey who pumped my gas.
A lot of you are probably reading that last one and calling me a cheap ass. Fuck you, I’m not tipping the guy at the Wawa in New Jersey just because he pumped my gas, and you’re not going to guilt me into it (believe me, my girlfriend has tried, and she fails every single time). I refuse to tip him for one major reason: He HAS to pump my gas for me. The state of New Jersey has a law that requires gas stations to pump your gas for you, you aren’t allowed to do it yourself. The gas pump operator isn’t doing anything special for me, he’s doing his damn job. I’m perfectly capable of pumping my own gas, but because New Jersey has some stupid law prohibiting me from doing so (probably conceived by the same bureaucratic dildo who came up with the infamous Jersey jughandles) I’m forced to rely on some person making minimum wage to perform this apparently Herculean endeavor for me. I had no choice in the matter, I’m not tipping this person diddly dick.
Another one that always gets me is when I pick up a food order at the pizza shop and the cashier expects a tip. The fuck did you even do, bitch? You punched some keys on your computer then walked three feet to grab my order from the top of the oven. I had one cashier take it upon herself to take my change as a tip without me asking. I’m not talking like 35 cents or something small either (I still would have been pissed though, it’s the principle of the matter), she took almost $3. Then she had the nerve to get huffy and indignant when I asked for my change, like I was the jerk-off because I wasn’t about to let her pocket $3 for running a cash register. Thanks to that presumptuous bitch, that pizza shop lost any future patronage from me. I’m not saying that I was keeping them in business or anything, but I noticed a year later that the place was closed down. Tipping for takeout is retarded, I’m not giving you a gratuity just because you rang me up and threw some napkins into my bag you conceited cunt. That tip section on the receipt you give me when I pay with my card is getting a big fat dirty line right through it, no matter how hard you stare at me or how loud you huff and you puff.
Isn’t tipping supposed to be for good or extraordinary service? When did it become expected no matter what? As someone who worked in food service for 15 years, I understand that shit happens at restaurants. It’s not the waitress’s fault the cook fucked your food up, nor is it her fault that she has to do the work of three because the owner is too cheap to hire more staff (or more often than not is known for being an unreasonable asshole who nobody wants to work for). When I dine out I’m one of the most understanding people you’ll ever meet. I’ve gotten into fights with friends who wanted to stiff the server because she didn’t spend her whole shift at our table due to the fact that she had a full house and was one of only two servers on duty. In fact, if I see the waitress is having a rough day I’ll go out of my way to tip 50% or higher.
With that said, when I see the waitress standing by the server station playing on her phone and she hasn’t come over to my table in 20 minutes, that’s not “having a rough day”, that’s “I don’t give a fuck”. Which is fine, but when these same waitresses expect an automatic 20% tip when they didn’t even offer to refill my drink once and spent most of their time goofing off on their phone, they can go fuck themselves. I’ve never completely stiffed a server, but I’ve certainly left small tips for poor service.
I can hear some of the “professional server” crowd screeching in anger at me (in between demanding $15 an hour while still getting tips on top of that). “AJ, UR A PIECE OF SHIT!! SERVERS HAVE A LOWER MINIMUM WAGE AND ONLY MAKE $2 AN HOUR AND HAVE A HARD JOB AND YOU NEED TO TIP THEM ALL 30% ALL THE TIME NO MATTER WHAT!!!”
Firstly, let’s talk about this minimum wage thing. Yes, the minimum wage for servers is lower than regular minimum wage. Last I checked, minimum wage for servers was just under $3 an hour in the state of Pennsylvania. Sounds low, right? It is, until you factor in the tips. After tips, a server can easily clear $75 to $100 a day during an eight hour shift (shifts are often longer at smaller mom and pop places), especially if they don’t have to pool their tips (a practice I’m firmly against) or tip out busboys. This works out to somewhere around $10-$12 an hour, which also doesn’t seem like much until you factor in that you’re waiting fucking tables and doing a job that pretty much anyone can do. Waiting tables wasn’t meant to be a lifelong career. Yeah it sucks that you goofed off in school and spent most of your time making poor choices, but that’s nobody else’s fault but yours. It’s not your employer’s responsibility to cover for your past mistakes and pick up your financial slack. Pay is determined by how easily you can be replaced. If you can show up to work fucked up on Xanax or Percocet and still do your job then chances are it’s a job that anyone can do.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting down servers and assuming all of them are junkies who made poor life choices (though as someone who worked in the industry I can say that a fair amount of them are). It’s definitely a stressful job full of bullshit, and sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to pay the bills. I just wish these people would understand the reality of their economic situation, and understand that it’s not up to employers to be their social safety nets later in life. We can raise the minimum wage for servers to $15 an hour. I actually agree that a lot of companies could easily afford to adjust their wages for inflation (still doesn’t mean McDonald’s or food service should be a career though). But if you raise the minimum wage for servers to $15 an hour then your arguments for blindly tipping 25-30% go out the window, and no reasonable person should expect a gratuity at that point unless they truly provided exceptional service. Which is completely fine with me, I’m cool with having a couple extra bucks tacked on to the price of a meal if it means I’m not being guilted into leaving a $10+ tip simply because you did the very basics of your job.
I’m also frustrated with the moving goalpost that is the proper tip percentage. When I was a teenager (early 2000’s) it was 15%. As I became an adult (late 2000’s-early 2010’s) it became customary to tip 20%. Now in this post-COVID world I’m made to feel like a scumbag if I tip anything less than half the bill. Why are we doing this stupid shit with arbitrary percentages to begin with? What’s wrong with just leaving whatever nice round number that you feel is appropriate? If my bill is between $20 and $25, I’m leaving a fiver, unless you did something that stood out beyond usual service.
In modern times, it seems like we’ve all but forgotten what the purpose of tipping really was: A bonus provided for extraordinary service. This shit got even worse after COVID, and it seems like the tipping train is going off the rails with no sign of slowing down. Should we do away altogether with the practice of tipping and simply pay servers a higher wage? I don’t know. What I do know is, I’m fucking tired of being expected to give every service worker everywhere a tip because they did their job, I’m tired of assholes trying to make me feel guilty if the tip isn’t high enough to meet whatever arbitrary percentage society has suddenly decided to agree upon, and I’m tired of being told that it’s my responsibility as the consumer to pick up the slack of cheapskate employers. You really want a tip? Open your mouth and I’ll give you one, you entitled assholes.