Let’s say you go out to eat at restaurants and you ordered your food with your friends, but at the end how much do you tip your waiter or waitress? Honestly, not many people, even Americans, know how much to tip them because nobody even thinks about how much the waiter or waitress makes.
In America, tipping is part of the culture. In fact, it is not an option but a necessity. Often times students can be extremely cheap with the tip they give to those who work for a greater purpose. Those who do not tip are making it difficult for the workers to earn minimum wage.
On our campus, for example, most workers are college students who are working to pay their school tuition and living expenses. Often times many people who decide not to tip the workers think they are already making enough without tips and that the waiters are only friendly and kind to the customers to get more tips.
Let’s do a reality check. According to the U.S Department of Labor, most waiters and waitresses earn $2.13 an hour. That is below the minimum wage of $8.25.
Let’s not forget: even they have to pay taxes, just like any American. They are below the minimum wage because they are supposed to make up the difference in tips. If more people begin to think that not tipping is acceptable, let’s think about how much money the waiters and waitresses are going home with in their pockets. If you cannot afford to pay both the bill and the tip, then simply do not go out to eat.
But let’s look at a couple examples of Korean and Chinese restaurants. In these countries, tipping in not necessary because the waiters get fixed hourly wages. Some restaurant owners may apply the same system here in the States.
I had several conversations with friends who work as waiters and waitress in those restaurants. Instead of earning minimum wage, they earn a fixed wage between $40.00 to $50.00, and any additional tips will be divided among the workers. But, here is the mysterious part: the owner of the restaurant will collect all the tips from the customers, recalculate it, then give the workers daily wages plus a “couple dollars”.
I am not saying all the Korean and Chinese restaurants operate in this manner. However, I concede to the fact that it may be difficult to figure out the tipping system of a certain restaurant; therefore, I suggest that customers ought to decide on their own the amount they should tip, depending on the context. My goal is to help people become more aware of the different types of tipping systems in the United States.
The ultimate question is; does this stop you from tipping waiters? Absolutely not. Being generous and showing gratitude is something that most people should do. An average tip should be between 15 to 25 percent of the bill.
Remember, many workers on campus are mostly students who are keeping up with school work and try to make a living day by day. Not being able to tip them could set his or her life back. Let’s start today by showing respect to waiters and waitresses and thinking about their lives and how you could make their lives better.
Sam Lee / Intern Reporter