The Case For Tipping, And (Gasp!) Against It: A Point/Counterpoint
Credit: All photos by Dave Infante
Editor’s note: Because tipping is such a hot button issue, and we like nothing more than hot buttons, we asked our own senior writer Dave Infante and contributing writer Sarah Walker to weigh in on the pros and cons of our tipping system. Please don’t hurt Dave, waiters, we need him for other stuff.
THE CASE AGAINST TIPPING: DAVE
Customary tipping screws the customer. You should know: I’m nice to waiters. I move the salt & pepper shakers when they’re trying to set plates down. If I spill my drink, I’ll apologize profusely. Oh, my croque monsieur is taking a little longer than expected? Pas de problème. But when it comes time to pay the check, I have to grit my teeth and leave monsieur another 18%, and I hate it.
I shouldn’t be obligated to tip on food & drink. I know, I know — you hate my guts. But I think my reasoning is pretty sound, so hear me out (or just head to the comments and start screaming):
THE OBLIGATION CONTRADICTS THE MEANING
In theory, I “get” gratuity. The faster, smoother, and pleasant-er you bring me a meatloaf, the better chance I will gratefully reward you with money. It’s an incentive! That’s capitalism, give or take a few multi-billion-dollar defense contracts.
But if my waiter knows I have to give a fiscal “thank you”, there’s no real incentive to do his job besides his normal wages (which he gets either way) and the look of pure joy on my face. Can I count on him to care about bringing me & this beef log together in a steamy, savory, gravy-laden union as much as I do? Maybe. Can he count on me to leave him 18% (or SOME additional amount) out of social obligation & good-heartedness? Yup.
In this scenario, I have no leverage to get my meatloaf. That’s a real bummer, because meatloaf is delicious, and helplessness really curbs my appetite.
You’re probably sneering, “this is just a warmed-over Reservoir Dogs argument”. Fine. Just because something appears in a Quentin Tarantino movie doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant (except for Tim Roth). Mr. Pink is right — if my waiter is extraordinary, then he deserves a tip. If he’s not, then why am I taking an EXTRA sum out of my wallet than I would ORDINARILY? It’s an institutionalized guilt trip, but if I abstain, I’m the bloodless Buscemi disciple who gets shouted out of the joint.