“Why tip someone for a job I’m capable of doing myself? I can deliver food, I can drive a taxi, I can and do cut my own hair. I did, however, tip my urologist because I am unable to pulverize my own kidney stones.” — Dwight Shrute, “The Office”
Let’s start at the beginning: Forcing customers to tip service employees is simply a way businesses fob off paying their employees a decent wage.
In case you don’t know this, service employees — waiters, waitresses, casino workers, anyone who works for tips — get paid far less than regular workers. For instance, in Virginia, the minimum wage is $12 an hour, but businesses can pay tipped employees as little as $2.13. And the state allows some companies to simply declare that their workers are “tipped employees.”
Therein lies the problem. Say you order a large cappuccino with extra foam — at an insane price of $4.75 — at your local coffee shop. When you pop your credit card in the reader, up comes multiple tipping options.
Now, why? It’s the barista’s job to make your coffee, and that’s literally all they’re doing. They’re not tending to you as a server for an hour or, say, pulverizing your kidney stones.
And they’re not just looking for two bits. Some options top out at 30% (but of course, there’s a way to create a custom tip, so if you want to go to 100%, knock yourself out).
“Suddenly, these screens are at every establishment we encounter. They’re popping up online as well for online orders. And I fear that there is no end,” etiquette expert Thomas Farley told the Associated Press last week.
Then there’s your local burger joint, the place that churns out patties all day long. You walk in, place your order at the cash register, and up comes a tip option. Now, the cashier just did her job, taking the order. And the cooks did their jobs, making your burger. So why would you tip?
The digital demand for a tip feels far different from a tip jar, into which you can throw a buck or two. It forces the cold-hearted buyer to declare, “no tip for you.” That’s weird because everyone now knows you didn’t tip — including the guy cooking your burger.
That feels like extortion. Since you can’t see that burger guy, you gotta wonder if he’ll maybe drop your patty on the floor as punishment for not tipping. At one place I went to recently, I offered no tip, and my to-go order contained ice-cold fries — not luke-warm, ice-cold (I had to go in to get new ones, and then I felt compelled to give the burger slinger a couple of bucks).
But I’m a former waiter. We know what being in the weeds is like, how demanding all those Karens can be. At a restaurant, absolutely abysmal service will still get a 10% tip from me. Great service gets 25%.
Still, every time I tip, I think, “Why don’t you just pay your workers a better wage? Why is it MY job to subsidize your low pay?” And sure, I get it: If you paid workers more, you’d likely charge more, and I might just go down the street to a place where a little burger doesn’t cost $10 (looking at you, Five Guys).
But stop demanding tips from me.
Consumers have been hit with double-digit inflation and soaring prices across the board, and now some are beginning to revolt against tipping. As comedian Mitch Hedberg said: “I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughnut. I don’t need a receipt for a doughnut, I’ll just give you the money then you give me the doughnut. End of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this.”
And we don’t need to bring tipping into this, either. You handed me a doughnut!
Still, consumers have been generous, especially during the COVID pandemic. Tipping at full-service restaurants jumped by 25.3% in the third quarter of 2022, while tips at fast-food or counter service spots went up 16.7% compared to the same time in 2021, according to the AP.
But there are plenty of consumers who are growing annoyed by the endless requests for tips.
“If you work for a company, it’s that company’s job to pay you for doing work for them,” Mike Janavey, a footwear and clothing designer who lives in New York City, told the wire service. “They’re not supposed to be juicing consumers that are already spending money there to pay their employees.”
Maybe if we — all at once — just stop tipping, employers would be forced to pay their workers more. And maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.