The Tipping Guilt Trip
Published 8/30/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
Recently I went to eat at a local casual diner. There were very few customers but yet the service was still terrible. Our waitress made us wait and delayed in taking our order or even offering us water. The water never came until I raised my hand for another waitress to bring it to us. Our waitress never offered us much service. It was only a quick evening snack so the bill came out to only about $11.00. I had initially decided not to tip at all because the service was so lousy but decided to at least chip in an extra $1.00. When the waitress saw her tip, she became enraged! She began whining and complaining very loudly and angrily to no one in particular but clearly and purposefully within earshot of us, while her mild mannered manager tried to calm her down to avoid a scene. Eventually her obnoxiousness made me stand up and confront her verbally. The manager ultimately offered us an extra dessert to make peace and apologized for her behavior.
Voluntary Compulsory Tipping
Afterwards, the incident got me thinking about how tipping has gone from being a gesture of good will to a mandatory social custom. The tip is supposed to be a sign of appreciation for a job well done and purely voluntary. Although the amount is never legally required, failure to tip in certain situations can now result in embarrassment, or even feelings of guilt. That is the part I don't understand and find very frustrating. If tipping is meant to be a show of gratitude for a job well done, then how could people still demand a generous tip even when the service was shoddy or negligent. When the server ignored your table the whole evening and never remembered to fill up your water glass, why does he or she still get indignant and become outraged when his or her lack of consideration is returned in kind.
Only in the U.S. Do People Tip
The United States is one of the few countries in the world that practices widespread tipping. Most parts of the world don't have such a social custom. In fact, in most parts of Asia, it's even considered rude and impolite to tip, implying that the servers need to be paid extra to do a good job. In other parts of the world, tipping is associated with bribery and is thus frowned upon. So why are we the only ones that practice that? I am actually a very good tipper when good service is offered, but I find tipping's socially mandatory nature very distasteful. All it does is cause pricing confusion and create awkward situations. At the very least, we have to go back to when tipping was purely optional with no expectation that it would be offered.