The Applebee’s waitress who was fired for posting the credit card receipt of a pastor who complained about having to fork over a tip has spoken out in a comment on the Guardian’s web site. It seems the pastor thought the help shouldn’t ask for any more than the 10 percent she herself tithes to “God,” i.e., the pastor’s church. She crossed out the 18 Percent (which the restaurant added automatically because of the size of the pastor’s party), and substituted a zero.
Hell, if God kept bringing me chicken wings and beer all night while putting up with my inane comments about the football game on TV, I’d tip Him at least 25 percent.
My attitude is, if you can’t or won’t leave a decent tip, DON’T EAT OUT. Most waiters and waitresses are lucky if they take home more than poverty level pay, most of it in tips. The federal sub-minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour. That’s right, TWO DOLLARS AND THIRTEEN FREAKING CENTS! Employers get to rely on employees’ tips to bring that up to $7.25 an hour. The tipped employee minimum varies from state to state, but few waiters and waitresses make a living wage (those fortunate enough to work in some fine dining establishments do better, obviously), while restaurant owners reap the benefit of cheap (in some cases practically free) labor. Benefits are often paltry or nonexistent. Was it a good idea to post a customer’s credit card receipt (even though the waitress thought it had been scrubbed of personally identifiable information and the signature seemed illegible)? Probably not. But I can certainly understand her frustration.
When I posted a version of this rant on the Pragmatic Progressive Page, some people indignantly responded that tips are “optional” and insisted that they have the right to stiff wait help for poor service. If the restaurant industry paid waiters and waitresses what their work is worth, I might agree. But it doesn’t. Given that, patrons should expect to pay for table service of any kind, say 20%, just as a matter of common decency. Excellent service should garner a premium. Otherwise, settle for fast food or take out, or eat at home. I know times are tough for many, but chances are they’re just as tough – or tougher – for your server.