The Importance Of A Good Tip
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Politics and Activism

The Importance Of A Good Tip

And no, the dad jokes don't apply.

The Importance Of A Good Tip

Everyone goes to a restaurant or the bar from time to time. A nice family meal that doesn’t involve cooking, a night out on the town with the girls, a drink for happy hour with colleagues.

What everyone hasn’t done is work in the food industry.

My momma always told me to work in a job that makes you rely on tips for your income, it’ll change your perspective on everything.

And so like what most young kids do when forced to get a job (not sure why I was the only one forced to — but thanks mom) we scour the mall.

After working retail for a year, I got a job as a hostess at a local Italian restaurant. I earned just over minimum wage, and any tips someone gave for a takeout order. I constantly listened to my coworkers complain when they’d get a terrible tip but never understood what the big deal was.

Then I became a waitress…

Little did I know that a waitress only earns $2 an hour at my restaurant, and that’s incredibly high. I asked an Applebee's waitress if they got paychecks, and she said she never saw one unless she worked overtime.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, $2 isn’t a lot but it adds up over time.


That $2, is rarely seen in the form of a paycheck.

What most people forget is that Americans pay taxes on their income. Anywhere from 25-40 percent of a person’s income is taken out of their paycheck per month to pay for things like Medicare/Medicaid, social security, and other government funded things, regardless of if in the future you plan to use them (that’s a whole separate issue though). So technically, instead of making $2 an hour, we’re making $1.75 per hour.

But wait, there's more.

Because it is difficult to tax cash income such as tips, the computer logs the tips we get, and “claims” some of that as our taxes. To claim that, even more of our paycheck is taken away.

To put this into perspective, I’ll give you a scenario. Let’s say that I work 35 hours a week and get paid every other week. That’s 70 hours of work per paycheck.

Theoretically, my paycheck before taxes would be $140. Then take away about 25 percent, it comes out to about $105. Then the computer figures out how much of my tip income to tax, and takes that out of my paycheck. To sum it up, a paycheck for 70 hours of work comes out to be about $18-25, and that’s way higher than most — I don’t work corporate, so I’m lucky.

Do not get me wrong, tips make the job worth it — When people understand how much tipping affects our income.

Here’s another thing that people understand: those food runners and bussers that help the servers and bartenders out so we aren’t running around like chickens without a head (although I constantly feel like I am, RT if you can relate!), don’t make minimum wage either. They get a portion of our tips. For every restaurant the way that they do this is different. Some restaurants, a certain percentage of your tips must be given to the restaurant, others it’s a certain percentage of your sales for that night.

My friend unknowingly gave a waitress a pretty poor tip and didn’t realize what was wrong with it. She was agitated when her waitress came over and asked if there was anything wrong with their service tonight. That in and of itself is pretty ballsy, and maybe she had an attitude all night, which certainly never ever ever helps get the customer on your side to get a good tip.

That waitress probably had a super high tip out for her coworkers — or worse, she worked at a restaurant that pooled their tips and split them evenly. Ew.

I explained to my friend how it works at my restaurant. Say for example, I sell $1,000 worth of food on a Friday night. At my job, tip out is 4 percent of your total sales coming out of your tip money. If the average tip of the night was 18 percent (not a horrible tip at all, but we’re obviously gunning for the 20 percent). I’m really only keeping 14percent for myself. In theory, if I got to keep all of my tips for the night, I would get to go home with $180 (amazing!). But in reality I’m only going home with $140.

Yes, I know that people think —

10 percent is if you’re a horrible waitress, leave the business

15 percent is if you’re a good waitress

20 percent is if you’re “holy grail, amazing, four for you Glen Coco, you go Glen Coco."

But in reality, 15 percent doesn’t measure up when your server doesn’t get a paycheck, has to tip out percentages to other workers, and is (hopefully) busting their butt to give you great service and have a good meal.

Maybe soon we’ll follow Europe and pay waitresses, bartenders, food runners and bussers normal, reputable salaries where we won’t have to rely on tips (they don't tip in Europe, they think we’re stupid for doing it, but they’ll take our money).

But until then, please tip well — or get a part-time job in a restaurant, then you’ll understand.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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