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Things that make you go hmm...

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Tipping The Scales
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Tipping is more of an art than a science, and more of an obligation than an option. To some the art of tipping appears to be more like science fiction. Some people naturally give tips, for others it is like pulling teath.

There is a huge difference in tipping service staff who are earning $6 to $20 per hours, and the waitress at the local coffee shop who makes a $1.60 per hour. We should expect an excellence in service from either, but the hourly employee making minimum wage plus is at least making some kind of living.

For the minimum wage plus person, a tip is a reward for excellent service. It may or may not be based on the percentage of a bill. We may tip the valet who parked our car or the coat check girl who made sure the contents of our pockets were still there on our return. We may tip the person who brought our bags to our room at a hotel, or even our mechanic who went way beyond the call of duty in locating and correcting a very complex problem or found a way to save us alot of money on repairs.

The waitress at the coffee shop or family restraunt however... She is in another catagory. Her hourly rate is closer to that of a third world country. She has to remember detailed pieces of information for short periods of time. She has to carry heavy loads across the room all day long. She needs to deal with customers cheerfully and repeatedly, dispite the disposition of the customer. She probably works physically harder than the peaple she typically serves. Typically, she is working ther ebecause she has to, not be cause it was the career of choice for her. She is usually feeding her family and may even be paying her rent from the meager earnings.

She relies and needs the tips. One reason her wage is allowed to be so low is that it is expected that she will be getting tips.

This is where tipping gets to be an issue for people. Let's play out a scenario:

There is a restaraunt with 6 tables and two waitresses. Both watresses make $1.50/hr (some make less). A group of people come in an take 3 tables and move them together, 16 people. On the other side of the room, a waitress seats 3 groups of 4 people at the other three tables. The table with 16 people clears the candles, the salt and pepper, and sugar containters form the table to more easily comminicate with each other. They order as a group. The watress must keep track of not just what was ordered but also who ordered it. All the food for each course must be delivered at the same time to that table. This table will be there for two to four hours chatting and enjoying eachothers company.

For the other tables, the watress only has to remember four orders per table and deliver 4 orders at a time. Typically those people will be there for 45 minutes to an hour, Then another family will be seated.

The big difference hear is that each of the individual tables will leave $2-4 for a tip - each, the larger table (which requires significantly more work to service and clean up afterwords and which will stay an average of twice as long) will also only leave a $2-4 dollar tip.

So the waitress that gets the large table only gets $2-4 dollars for two to four hours of hard work. The other waitress gets $12 to 24 dollars for the same time period - he tables will typically be seated twice during the time the large table is there.

One of the things that happens at the large table, is that the bill is relatively large. Only one or two people may be covering it. They look at a $200+ bill for dinner and think 10% is $20, thats too much they think, "I'll leave $10" or less...

I can easily understand the plight. I have seven children. When I go out with my family, we are 9 people without any additional guests. Currently, we have another family staying with us due to the husband being disabled. So, for now, we are twelve people going to dinner. We are 2-3 tables grouped together almost anywhere. The children make messes. They have accidents. Food spills. Water and soda spills. Plus as the children are getting older, they are more picky about what they want - complicating any potential order. The waitress cringes when she sees us come in... A large group with kids - hard work, a big mess, and withall those kids they probably wont tip well..

I make special effort to tip very well. If I can't afford to tip, I dont go out. It is simply not fair to those who service us. The wait staff will work harder for us than they will servicing three smaller tables. I try to make it so that it was worth the effort - so that waitress wants to see us again.

Consider the waitress when you go out. Hers may be the sole income to her house. She may be working her way through college. She may be feeding her family. She may be paying the utilities or the rent. The income she brings in may make the difference between whether her family has a place to live or not.

My wife works as a waitress. Without her tips, we don't have enough income to keep our home and keep the utilities working and the food. I would rather one of us be home with the kids, but a multi-income family appears to be the only way to survive anymore.

So consider the waitress when you go out. Your generosity to her may make or break her life. Don't ever think you dont have an impact in someones life. Every dime, every compliment, every insult makes a difference for good or bad.