so there is this story in the wsj about tipping. or, at least, some background and current commentary on tipping in the states. and it got me thinking..

the only way to stop this problem, as i see it, is to stop tipping. what's the problem? maybe there isn't one, if you are asking, but it seems like tipping has not only become expected, but, as the article indicates, the expected amount is rising.

the result of which is that merely showing up at my table has won someone 15% of my already (usually) overpriced bill. (i'll deal with issues arising from my problems presently, let me finish the paragraph.) anything more than doing one's job now entitles them to a quarter or more of my bill. and if i am with someone, that can be quite a lot.

as far as i can tell the only answer is to stop tipping. now, i have no plans of implementing this in the near future because i like to return to good eateries and regularly stiffing the staff of a tip is not going to do much for future visits. but that is exactly the issue. future food service is being held hostage by my willingness to pay the ransom. while i do not expect bodily fluids or garbage to end up in my meal if i did not cave-in to their demands on previous visits, it is not (yet) a risk i am willing to take. there are simply not enough good restaurants out there for me to eat at one once, and then never again. and i don't eat out often.

the problems with my problems, cited by many. (i'm referring mainly to wait staff in food service, but i think the issues are applicable across most occupations that use / require tipping.)

1.. wait staff depend on tips to get by. i.e., they are not paid a living wage (sometimes no wage).
reply so, i have to subsidize their poor job decision because..? i am not generally a fan of letting the economy sort it out.. because that usually means people get screwed. but legislation seems highly unlikely. i cannot imagine minimum-wage legislation working (as it already has failed in this regard), and if it were to be beefed up, it would likely be so universal as to be forced to include farm labor, and that would shoot prices up precipitously for every sector. i'm not saying that i'm against living wages for farm labor and the like, i'm just saying that it is a hill of beans (sorry) that i do not see people wanting to, um, boil?

2.. tipping is a self-regulating system. tip more for better service, less for poorer service.
reply ideally, perhaps it should work this way. but that still puts the staffs' wage in my hands instead of the employers. also, it doesn't work this way. as stated above, in the wsj article, and everywhere else in the known universe, the system has broken. and considering it was not all that sensible to begin with, doesn't bode well for my opinion.

3.. eating out is a luxury and a choice, if you don't like the system, don't participate.
reply fair enough. except that then i also have to avoid taxis, cut my own hair, tow my own car when it breaks down (which may implode the universe), never have help carrying anything, never accept luxurious deliveries of pizza or flowers, never live somewhere with a doorman, et cetera. so, basically, i have to become a self-sustaining hermit because i don't like a broken system? as i said, fair response, but not a practical one.

4.. wait staff deserve to be paid for the hard work they do.
reply i would disagree that all wait staffs' work is "hard." (note the inclusion of the word all.) but that is not important, because some of the work that people in such jobs do is indeed hard, or difficult. and i will concede that it seems stressful and possibly unhealthy in various ways. my point is this, get another job.

let's be honest. really honest. if i know you well and we get to have real discussions, invariably the topic of honesty will arise because i find it fascinating. the complexities and diametrically opposed maxims, viewpoints, and expectations. so, here is more of me being honest. ready?

wait staff have menial jobs.

maybe they didn't know it beforehand but it certainly must sink in after enough time with the idiot public (me included, and i even attempt sane behavior.) and you don't need to inform me that you think i am looking down on other people. my current job is not glamorous, and i have done my share of menial jobs. and i was paid much less than a waiter.

it is not economically sound to prop up failed business models. this, in my opinion, is one of them. we are subsidizing people to do work they wouldn't otherwise do. the result of which, it seems to me, is that service stagnates, expectations (of service) lower, tips rise in an attempt to receive better service, expectations (of tips) rise.

if tips were really a bonus (in that they were not necessary to provide a living wage), and they may or may not be given, then things might be different. but i doubt it. people would tip more in an attempt at better service, and the same cycle would repeat. it is a capitalistic problem. people think that they can buy anything; and until that idea is uprooted, it will remain the only game in town. at the very least it is gauche and smacks of sweatshop labor or the vestiges of slavery (in that one's well-being is dependent upon the whim of another).

prix fixe is the best option that i have seen, but that would require 'no tipping allowed'; a difficult transition at best.

5.. going to a fixed price / non-tip system would degrade service.
reply perhaps. but that would simply require hiring competent staff. sure, it might take a bit of time to weed out the idiots, but every other business has to make good hiring decisions, why should these be any different? not dying before the age of eighteen and the ability to provide clean urine should not a qualification make.

just some ideas.

and while i'm on the subject of problems, here's another. quit ------- hitting other people's cars with your doors you freaks. while you clearly don't care what happens to your property, there are others who don't like dents, dings, and missing paint. crazy, i know, but true. accidents happen. they are fine, if you own up to them. leave a note with your number and follow through.

the theme of this crossword puzzle is: i'm tired of paying for other peoples mistakes and bad choices, i have enough of my own.




comment in the msgboard if you are so inclined.


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