Why do your workers expect us to pay them with tips?

Is tipping getting out of control? When I saw a story on CBC News outlining how much tipping for services has increased — read that as: people in the service industry expecting it to increase — during the pandemic, it made me feel less sorry for them.

When the shutdowns began and businesses closed, we felt bad for people out of work and their former employers that might’ve gone under. Absolutely it’s terrible to have lost so much when this started last year.

What loses me though in the how-much-you-should-tip debate is the word “should.” My attitude has always been to shutdown when people tell me I should do something.

I worry when employees rely more on customers paying them than their employer. As so many CBC commenters said: “Get another job if you don’t like the pay.”

Do I silp the grocery store produce guy a few bucks because he went to check the stockroom for more apples? Do I tell the fast-food employee to keep the change because she gave me extra packages of barbecue sauce when I asked for it?

Oftentimes restaurant servers have done the least amount of work during your meal. They didn’t get soaking wet washing the dishes, they didn’t grill the chicken and make sure the entire order was fully cooked. They brought glasses of water — and refilled when needed. They checked on you 45 seconds after you took the first bite. They offered you a dessert menu to increase the amount of your bill.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mocking or slamming restaurant servers because I worked in that industry as a teenager. I know it’s not easy waiting tables. But customers are pressured/guilted into tipping because it’s awkward when the bill is settled and the server looks at the receipt to see how much of a tip they got. Plus, debit machines come pre-loaded with tip options and the lowest is often 15 per cent. (Don’t get me started on food delivery apps where I tip before anybody has even done anything for me.)

Last weekend, I had lunch in Winkler. My colleague and I had to go to the counter to order, then listen to hear our number called and retrieve the order. (We were the only diners there). Still, I felt compelled to tip on the debit machine because the employee was standing right there. When we were finished, my colleague left $3 on the table, too. What for? They didn’t come to check on us the entire time and we had to go get our own drink refills. (No, we weren’t at a fast-food restaurant.)

More and more I’m leaning towards not paying someone to do their job. Where does it stop?

Do I start asking readers to send me a few bucks if they like my column? I’m providing a service. I’m entertaining or educating you (depending on the week!). If I take time to reply to your tweets or emails, should you compensate me for my efforts? I wouldn’t think so. If you’d like to, by all means!

As we see quality of service decline thanks to the snowflake generation and employees who ain’t got time for your sh*t, I question what we’re actually rewarding by adding more money to our bill. The ability to walk? The ability to write/type a food order? The speed at which an empty plate is taken away? Reciting dessert specials?

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