Ask anyone who works as a waiter or waitress: tipping sucks, and it needs to stop.
Queue the same old repugnant arguments about “quality control” and “customer service” from the same curmudgeonly conservative jackasses who have always promoted them, as if paying waitstaff a liveable hourly rate–a luxury just about every other profession affords its workers–would somehow lead to a dramatic, unalterable decline in the quality of service received at restaurants across the country. It’s a bullshit nonsensical argument from bullshit nonsensical people, too quick to upset and too dishonest to admit the real reason they think the tips-as-wages scheme is the way to go.
They like it because it gives them power over people.
That is bad enough in and of itself. Frequently, restaurants are carefully coreographed to belie the fast-paced frenetic work going on behind the scenes. Seating, taking orders, cooking, serving, and billing are all steps in a frenzied dance between several employees, most of whom the patrons never see. Any misstep along the line can jam things up. The waitstaff, being the most visible employees, are often left to pick up the pieces when process falls apart. From poorly prepared food to slow service, they can be blamed for virtually anything and everything that doesn’t go the customer’s way. The chef who overcooks your burger still gets their full paycheck. The manager who didn’t schedule enough waitstaff to work happy hour still gets theirs. And this is supposed to be fair?
It gets worse, of course. Some people aren’t content to lord a 15% tip over their server for relatively simple affair of playing boss for forty-five minutes.
After nine years working as a waitress, mostly at a chain of restaurants in suburban Memphis, Catherine Bryant knows how to deal with lascivious customers, the leers and whistles and lewd looks. She’d evade them and seek to serve better-behaved customers.
But working at establishments that can attract rowdy customers with big drinks and flashy happy hours, Bryant always had something else on her mind: tips. In Tennessee, as in 20 other states, restaurant workers can receive as little as $2.13 an hour, far below the minimum wage, with the rest expected to be made up through gratuities.
For workers like Bryant, the choice sometimes boiled down to overlooking inappropriate behavior, or protesting at the risk of lost wages.
“I know I should have my dignity, this is a professional job, I shouldn’t really have to whore myself out,” says Bryant, who now lives in Washington. ”But if he’s buying 12-year-old whiskey, it could be a very precarious situation. If I say ‘Hey, treat me with respect,’ and he says, ‘What a bitch, I’m just not going to tip her,’ … you lose all of your money.”
Before, the system was unfair, a shitty situation borne from an unholy alliance between restaurant managers looking to shuffle labor costs onto the customer and antisocial fascist twerps willing to pay an extra 15% to give a complete stranger a hard time. Now, it is sexist fuckwads throwing down money for a captive audience, so they can insult, harass, harangue, and grope with complete impunity.
Now, it is inexcusable.