Why You Need to Tip Your Waitresses and Waiters
The hardest working, lowest paid, least appreciated worker has to be the server in your local restaurant. Waiters and waitresses are only paid $2.69 per hour in many places. The only workers in America that the government doesn't include in minimum wage laws, servers rely on tips from you to pay their bills and support their families. And many restaurants require servers to share their tips with bartenders, hostesses, and bus boys.
Now I'm not saying it's your job to support these workers. They're trying to do that themselves. On their feet for 8 hours a day--16 hours if they're lucky enough to pull a double shift--waiters and waitresses do an assortment of jobs in their work. They not only take your order and bring you your food, they clean, make food items such as salads, sundaes, and shakes, roll silverware, clean tables, refill salt and pepper shakers, ketchup and sauce bottles, sugar canisters, sweeteners, jelly, creamer, and napkin dispensers. They make coffee, refill drinks, pick up, vacuum, fill take-out orders, run the cash register, and clean bathrooms. They try to do all this with a smile and pleasant conversation for you and their other customers while following the rules of the establishment.
Servers try to anticipate their customers needs and wants and try to be available to fill needs and wants they haven't thought of. They converse with your children, bring over booster seats and high chairs, and offer suggestions from their own experiences to make your dining more pleasant. They know their earnings depend on how pleased you are with their service. At least, that's what they used to think.
These days are tough for everyone economically. Food prices are higher, so a couple or family going out to dinner may be presented with a bill that's higher than they expected. Rather than skipping dessert, ordering less expensive menu items, or passing on the appetizer and pre-dinner drink, most of these people are stiffing the servers.
Waitresses and waiters are expected to receive a tip that equals 15% of what the food costs. That's how restaurant owners report their wages to the IRS. One single mother that's been waitressing for ten years said, "I wish I made as much as I do on paper. I could afford to pay my rent and feed my son." Programs made available to lower income workers aren't available to waiters and waitresses in this situation. On paper, it looks like they make enough money to get by, so aren't eligible for help.
I'm not referring to incompetent servers. The waitress who ignores her customers and doesn't even attempt to give them what they need, and the waiter who spends an hour on the phone haven't earned their 15%. But waiters and waitresses who have been praised by their customers and commended to their employers are going to clear their tables and finding a $4.00 tip for an $80.00 food bill. Even someone very bad in math should know that's not even close to 15%. And many people say, "Sorry, I didn't bring enough money," and don't leave anything. The server then has to pay taxes from their $2.69 an hour on the earnings they never received from their customers.
Why don't they quit and find something else?
I'm not sure what the job market is like where you live, but it's been very bad around here for over five years, and it's getting worse. Many servers don't have any options. Something, even if it's only $2.69 an hour, is better than nothing.
At least, it would be if it didn't cost more for gas to get to work than you make.
Remember that your server doesn't prepare the food. It's not their fault if it's not cooked the way you want it or doesn't taste as good as you expected. And it's not their fault that you wanted an alcoholic drink but forgot your identification. Stiffing a waitress or waiter because they can't break the law and the rules of their employers is not only grossly unfair, it shows a complete lack of class.
Look more kindly at the next waiter or waitress that serves you. Are they trying to make your dining experience pleasant? If so, you owe them at least 15% of what you paid for your food. Did they make your dining experience pleasant? Then you owe them more.
My income is lower than that of most people, and I still tip servers. I ask myself, did my server take my order and bring me my food and drink? If so, they'll get at least 15%. If they made pleasant conversation, checked to see how the food was and refilled drinks, they'll receive 20%. The more pleasant my experience is, the more my waitresses and waiters make. If I take care of the servers that take care of me, my next dining experience will be that much better.