Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Am I a Cheap Bastard?

KSK is one of my favorite web sites to visit during the day, and waste my company’s valuable time. Of the outstanding posters there, IMO, Big Daddy Drew is the best, hands down. Yesterday he posted a rant about group dinners (linked of course), which summed up my feelings on the whole experience very well. When there is a post I particularly enjoy, I usually scan the comments, and sometimes even through in my 2 cents. But yesterday scanning the comments, I learned something about myself. I am a cheap bastard, or am I?

Somehow the commentators turned the discussion to that of tipping at a restaurant. My feelings on tipping have always been, you start at 15%. Do a good job and the percentage goes up. Hell, go above and beyond, which usually just means making sure my wife is happy, no easy feet, and I’ll really bump it up. But if you suck, I’ll leave something insulting. Disappear for long periods of time (don’t even come back smelling like smoke), let my drink go empty, completely fuck up the order, I’ll give you a buck on a $100 dollar tab.

Look, I’m not saying that I pull out the insulting tip card often. I worked in restaurants; I understand that dealing with customers, when 80% are assholes, sucks. So save me the sob story. I expect not to wait a half hour between sitting down and you taking a drink order, I expect you to stop by early and often to make sure that we have our drinks, our food is right, and I don’t want to wait another half hour from the time I complete my meal to when you show up with the check. This really isn’t asking too much. Honestly, I’m a pretty good customer, I order straight off the menu, I rarely complain about anything, and I get out when I’m done, freeing up the table for your next tipping customer.

Well reading through the comments, it seems that the general consensus is that you should be leaving a 20% tip, minimum. When did this happen? Look, I’m not sweating the extra Lincoln on a $100 meal; it’s not going to break me. But now I’m left to wonder if I have been perceived as a cheap bastard, when I thought I was giving a good tip.

Then I got to thinking about it. At the average place, your server is going to be handling 3-5 tables at a time. Depending on how many people are at the table, and how many drinks they have we’ll call the average tab 100 dollars. And most dinners take an hour. So the server should be pulling down 45-75 dollars an hour in tips. 45 dollars an hour, that’s not a bad wage for a job that requires no education and minimal skill.

Now I know its not actually 45 dollars an hour, most places the wait staff is suppose to tip out the bussers, hosts, and bartenders. But from my experience most of the wait staff are complete bastards when it comes to tipping out. In the restaurants I worked in there was some place where there were envelopes for each person who needed to be tipped out. The wait staff was on the honor system when it came to putting cash into those envelopes. Most of the time you were lucky to have $5 bucks per server put into your envelope.

So lets say you worked the prime dinner shift, 6-10, and pulled in $45 an hour over that period, then you tip out the 2 bussers, the hostest and give an extra Lincoln to each of the 3 bartenders. You still pulled in $145 dollars in tips for 4 hours of work, and you only have to claim 10% for taxes. That’s $130 dollars, or $32.50 an hour, of tax free money. Oh and that’s all at the low end. Chances are the server makes much more if they are at all competent. Hell, when I worked in an upscale restaurant I knew servers who were taking home $500 on a Friday or Saturday night, and the meals there cost half of what they do now.

Now at 20% the server would be looking at more like $46 dollars an hour. Like I said, the five bones ain’t going to break me, but what the fuck makes you think you deserve a $14 dollar an hour raise. You are a middleman between the people who do the actual work and me. You walk back and forth between the computer where you enter my order, the bar and the kitchen, sometimes carrying stuff. That’s it shit for brains. You want a raise get a real job. You’re in school, good I was in school once too, and worked some pretty shitty jobs. Things cost more now, well so does my dinner, meaning that the tab the tip is based on has gone up as well. You have a kid; well you should have used some of that tip money to buy some condoms until you could afford to have a kid.

So no, I’m not a cheap bastard, servers who expect 20% are morons, take the 15% and like it. The tip percentage shouldn’t go up do to the rising cost of living, the higher price of food and drink already took care of that. You want to make more money, get a real job, one that will pay you to write stupid shit on a blog for hours a day. That’s what I did.

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