Tipping Is An Option, But It Should Be Mandatory

Tipping Is An Option, But It Should Be Mandatory

I've been working in the restaurant industry for 13 years.


I've been working in the restaurant industry for 13 years. What started out as just a weekend job in high school as a way of earning extra money, led to the steady income I have to put myself through college. This type of work is tough to do and exhausting, but there is one thing every server will agree is the toughest part of the job: working for free.

When I say work for free, I'm talking about a group of guests that don't tip after their dining experience. What a lot of people don't realize is servers rely on the generosity of guests for their sole income. Servers are paid $2.13 an hour, and when a guest decides not to tip, be if they don't know how much to leave or they decided the service was mediocre, it is basically being ordered around and receiving no compensation for it.

What a lot of people fail to realize is servers are left with a limited section and typically are left with three to five tables. So, in a hypothetical scenario, if I had four tables and three decided to not leave a tip, I would have to rely on of one table within an hour of my time to make any type of money. Nothing is more demeaning than being ordered around during a long shift and getting nothing for it.

Another huge factor that people fail to see, does not only do guests tip depending on how much the check is. That same check is tipped out to my support staff. So, if your check is 100 dollars and I did not receive a tip, and my average tip out is three percent, that is three dollars out of my pocket to ensure the dining experience was enjoyable. I am PAYING for guests to eat out of my own personal money that I work incredibly hard for.

According to the department of labor, a minimum amount of tips is required for servers. Basically, they assume that guests will tip the correct amount so the employer will not have to match the minimum wage depending on the state. The government assumes you'll just tip the amount you're supposed to, which should be a minimum of fifteen percent.

For a server that has done a job well done, should get a twenty percent tip. If percents aren't your thing, just take a look at the first number of your check and double it. So, if your bill is $40, you should leave $8 as a tip. However, if your check is $45, you should round up to the nearest tenth and leave $10.

This really isn't a complicated system. So, if you're out with a friend that doesn't want to tip or you just haven't been big on it yourself just remember two things; we are here to help, however, we don't work for free much like everyone else on the planet and second, your tip is our income. Without a decent tip, we don't have an income. Seriously, just do it!

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the US Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to ten people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the seventeen other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 dollar bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of ten times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession - whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food, and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a forty dollar bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes - as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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