Yesterday, I had a crappy meal at a crappy restaurant with crappy service. I still tipped twenty per cent. Why did I do this? What is the tipping point?
I hardly ever go to posh restaurants. There’s one in Larchmont, which someone takes to me to on occasion. The waiters speak passable English; they probably go home to Port Chester and feed large families. It po’s me off how make more money than do I, even when I was at ABC Radio. That’s another story.
Do we feel guilty if we don’t tip? Does it make a difference what the ethnicity of the place is? On the rare occasions I get a foot rub, the masseur stands right there, as I’m paying, thereby guaranteeing I can’t get away with a lower tip.
If the waiter owns the place, do I tip her? When I lived in Studio City, the star of “The King of Queens” owned a cafe. She waited on us, which was cool. Do I tip her? Of course, I did. It was out of a sense of propriety and habit. She wasn’t even that nice. It was brunch time and she was rushed.
[When I waited table, customers didn’t tip well]
I waited on tables, once and briefly, in the Time and Life Building. People didn’t tip well back in those days, at that restaurant. A dime, for a five-buck burger, was routine. I quit. I realize food services pay waiting staffs less than are other non-food service employees. I have never understood that; I guess they supposedly earn tips. In addition, we take our displeasure out on them by leaving a smaller tip; they aren’t responsible for food that sucks.
You know how they come around and ask is everything okay? In some ethnic places, if you tell the truth, they get angry at you. Once, I ordered vegetable lo mein and they brought me pork. I told them I hadn’t ordered pork and that I don’t eat meat. We had ordered pork dumplings so they had me. I still hadn’t ordered pork lo mein. I ate it anyway. I think this was a tip-less meal.
You don’t know what snippety chefs will do to it. You hear horror stories about that. You don’t want to be in that kitchen, trust me. Ignorance is bliss. Germophobe that I am, I’m surprised I dine out so often; remember, the television remote is the dirtiest thing in a hotel room. Lunch, usually, as it’s cheaper.
If we’re going to tip as much for lousy service and for good, based solely on the amount of the bill, we need to rethink tipping. It’s supposed to be a reward for good service; to insure prompt service. What about the ‘gratuity’ tacked onto the bill, with six or more people? Well then, gratuity loses its meaning, which is free. If you have to pay it, it’s not a gratuity!
What of those tip jars at cafes? To paraphrase Jackie Mason, at Starbucks, we have to be our own waiter and busser; all for a five-buck cup of coffee. Why would I tip the counter people? They receive a pay cheque.
If you pay in cash, it’s not as much of an issue, but if they give you the bill with a tip line and you don't fill in a tip, you feel guilty. Me, I don’t tip for takeout. There’s little service involved. I had meals where the waiter comes over maybe three times and I have to tip him ten buck due to price of food. Huh?
I don’t tip my super. He’s an ass and does nothing for me. My mother has to tip eight people fifty bucks apiece, at her New York City condominium. Supers receive a pay cheque. Sure, if someone goes beyond the call of duty, tip him or her, but the mail person, the UPS guy? Where does it end?
Sometimes, when I’m pet sitting, the pet parents tip me. I am a good pet sitter. Sometimes they don’t tip me, like during the blizzard a few weeks ago; I slogged a mile through heavy snow each way to feed the little darlings; no tip that time.
Pay the wait staff a salary and move on. Some of the fancier places in New York are now doing away with tipping, but raise their prices to compensate; people tip anyway.
Tipping brings out the good and the guilt in us. It’s political, very much so. I’ve heard that people will leave a penny to express displeasure with a meal or poor service. It’s all so silly. Tipping is stupid. Let’s stop.
Wendy Vega ran the board for radio legends "Cousin Brucie" and Dan Ingram, at WABC-AM, and Zacherle at WPLJ-FM, all in New York City. At WNEW-AM, Jonathan Schwartz stole her lunch and she became great friends with the legend of radio legends, William B Williams. Then Vega moved to news, first WINS-AM 1010, in New York City, later television stations in Los Angeles. Today, she is a former television news editor replaced by a machine. She's a writer living near the train station in Larchmont, New York. Joan Rivers came from Larchmont, NY. Maybe the same fate will befall Vega as befell Rivers. Watch this space.
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