The Value of Tipping

Well, this is wrong: On Acculturated, Katrina Trinko says we should abolish tipping:

While I’m no fan of minimum wage hikes—which make it harder for young workers to get their first job and gain experience, as well as encourage businesses to consider automating or eliminating labor—it would be fantastic if the hikes could kill tipping.

No, I’m not trying to stop waiters and servers from doing their jobs well. But I don’t think tips are the way to do it. As a friend of mine pointed out, tipping makes every customer, not the restaurant leadership, the management. And that’s ridiculous.

Imagine getting a performance review from someone who had worked with you part of one day (a day that might or might not be typical of your experience), and who likely knew little to nothing about your job. Most of us would (rightfully!) protest. We’d point out that the person simply wasn’t qualified to rate how well or poorly we did our job.

First of all, customers don’t work with waiters and waitresses; they are served by them. And when it comes down to it, all of our paychecks are determined by the people we serve.

And I think a lot of us, in a lot of situations other than food service, would love to have influence on the pay of people who are serving us. Think somebody might jump to open a new checkout lane at the grocery store? Think the chair-moisteners behind the counter at the DMV might wake up?

But besides encouraging good service, tipping has an additional value for the tipper, one that I’ve written about a few times before. For a lot of us, generosity doesn’t come naturally. It’s a learned skill we have to practice. And tipping gives us the chance to practice it. Like I said before:

It helped my attitude a lot when I stopped looking at tipping as some kind of obligatory burden, and started looking at it as another opportunity to be generous. I ask God for opportunities to share His love all the time, as I’m sure a lot of Christians do. Well, there you go: it’s right in front of your face every time you go to Denny’s.


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