Monday, 20 October 2014

Tipping Your Waitress Is Optional, So Is Us Being Nice To You

Earlier today, I came across a conversation on Twitter that basically tore apart the generosity of tipping. Why should we tip bar staff, waitresses or even a hotel doorman? This quite frankly, enraged me. A lot of people jumped on the bandwagon to agree with someone who is considered a digital opinion leader, or a social influencer. This enraged me even more.

When people tip, they usually tip because of the service they've been given. Or maybe, they have just felt painfully sorry for their server. I've made many a pity tip, especially on match days during the Welsh rugby season. Match days have probably always been my most lucrative source of income, and they usually pay for those basic human rights such as food or shelter. You know, the things most people don't have to endure polishing buckets of cutlery for? Yeah, those things. 
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Let's get this straight. I have a degree, and I am not stupid. I haven't fallen into a job that pays me to sit there and play on a computer, I haven't fallen into a job that erases my worry. I am qualified to do more than serve you yet I work this job because I need to. Some of us aren't so lucky, I am one of those people. Maybe some of us are students, or working the bar as a second job to pay our electric bills and keep our car on the road. These jobs keep people afloat, but they are by no means a party piƱata filled with strawberry laces and loose change. Maybe some of us see this as a career, and you are stripping value from it.
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Source: Giphy

"Other people work minimum wage with no tips."

Yes, they do. But they don't work split shifts with next to nothing breaks, deal with the general ignorance of the public, and scrub your peach coloured vomit from the stairs- all in one day. They don't have to stand there and take drunken abuse from an irrational ogre in a cowboy hat, and they don't have to run around for hours in a full pub trying to squeeze a smile from that one customer who just had to complain. Seriously guys, give me a break because I'm quite sure that nobody else is.

"But the kitchen staff don't get tips."

Actually, a lot of places share the tips equally among the staff. However, in my last job whatever I made was for myself. Kitchen staff get paid more by the hour, and some are on salary. They also finish work by 10pm, and they don't have to calm the customer when it all goes wrong. I've had people experience terrible meal waiting times or have been left unsatisfied by their meal. I still got given a tip, because they rewarded my service- not what food went into their mouths.
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Source: Jezebel
In the UK, you don't have to tip. It is something we have mainly adopted from American habits. If you don't want to tip, then don't-  we won't ever hold it against you. But don't come down on us for the people who do tip us. People don't understand the industry unless they work in it, and they won't appreciate good service until they have had a really rude waiter or barmaid serve them- but give them some slack, they've had a really long day and someone probably just shouted at them (or a barrel exploded in their face in the cellar.)
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I don't condemn people for what I don't understand. I don't particularly understand having to watch ads on YouTube for people to get paid for not having doing a job that I have to do. 

Yet, I don't say "I don't understand why YouTubers should get paid for making videos." YouTubers occupy us, they are entertainers. I respect that. You could say "They deserve some sort of reward, it's a job." Yes, it's very much a job yet I don't demand monetary compensation for my blog. If you can make money from what you do for fun, then own it. Enhance it, work it. That's what we're doing, too. We work with what we have, we extract perks from something we don't usually get rewarded for. So isn't it the same thing? Bloggers get the perk of gifts and PR samples, hospitality workers get the perk of £1.50 if they're lucky and they still end up getting taxed on it. This stems from the mentality of wanting everything for free. Our apprehension towards YouTube advertising, our bitterness about subscribing to news outlets, and our expectation of service for nothing.

But maybe the general consensus on hospitality is wrong. My job is NOT to give you the best day of your life. My job has been to pull your pint, take your order and make sure you get the right food.  My job is to provide standards and give you what you want, but I am not a personal slave. When I go above and beyond to make you happy, that is not covered by the minimum wage. For example, managers get their bonus when they hit targets, so when we hit a service standard we get rewarded in a tip. I'll do it when there isn't a tip involved because I'm a people pleaser, but I'm grateful to those who tip me and make it possible for me to buy bread that week. 

We have to work from early morning into the depths of the night to earn what most people earn in their usual jobs. Our shifts are irregular, long and exhausting. Have you worked 9 AM until 2 AM? And that doesn't include the clean up. At the end of the night when we can still give you a smile- that's service, and it deserves recognition. 

"Give us a smile love", is what you tell us. We'll always oblige, and we might even laugh. Give us some understanding, is what we tell you in return.
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