Letter writer: Tipping offers oldest and simplest form of crowdfunding

Graphic by Lori Deaton

With all the rosy talk of a “living wage” being offered to wait staff and making restaurants more like “general business,” I think some very large issues are being ignored in this discussion [“The Tipping Point: Is Blue Dream Curry Paving the Way for No-tip Restaurants in Asheville?” Feb. 3, Xpress.]  First of all, this is America, and why would I want to go to a restaurant that tells me I am not allowed to leave a tip if I feel like it? Last I heard, tipping is still optional.

What is not optional, however, is the price of a meal — and anyone who has done even a modicum of research into the impact of no-tipping policies in other cities knows that the no-tip restaurants have raised their entree and drink policies across the board. How else do you think they are paying servers over $12 an hour? Frankly, it’s also nice to have the option of rewarding good service or voicing our disappointment in bad. Do we really want dining out to resemble the one-sided frustration of a “customer-service” phone call with “general business”? As a restaurant-goer, I say, no thank you.

Another reason I like leaving a tip is because I like helping people reach their dreams. When I was in college, I worked as a waitress to pay for school. Many people in the service industry work for tips as they strive to become doctors, writers, teachers, musicians, actors, artists and [work at] other vocations that make our world a better place.

One of the nice things about going out to dinner is that I get to share the fruits of my own successful journey by giving back to people starting their own. As a waitress, I received several hundred-dollar tips — not because I was the fastest to get appetizers on the table, but because the people I served saw a young lady striving to make something of herself and doing so with grace and a smile. Historically, tipping has not just been about paying more for food, it has been an institutionalized way we as a community can support others in their larger dreams.

How many of you are parents who hope to send children to college? Do you hope that your son or daughter has the opportunity to earn tips as they strive to pay the bills for school? Or maybe you are a tourist who has come to experience the beautiful music and art of Asheville. Wouldn’t it be nice to support one of the many artists here making her way as a server?

We cannot overlook the role that tipping plays as the oldest and simplest form of crowdfunding — it is a way that we are able to give freely to the dreams of ourselves and our community. Remember folks, tipping is not the law. It is, however, like voting, a privilege.

― Cathy Nichols



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10 thoughts on “Letter writer: Tipping offers oldest and simplest form of crowdfunding

  1. NFB

    When I go buy a pair shoes I need to try them on first. A clerk measures my feet and then determines what size will best fit me. Then he or she brings me a pair of shoes in those size. I try them on (after the clerk has laced them up for me) and walk around a bit in the store to see how they feel. If there is a problem, maybe they are too loose or too tight, the clerk will box up those shoes and try another pair on. This process will continue until the right pair is found.

    Yet I am not expected to tip the clerk for this service because his/her wage is priced into the pair of shoes. Why should food in a restaurant be any different?

    • Yep

      I have NEVER had my foot size measured since I was a child … don’t most people KNOW their shoe size ?

  2. The vast majority of minimum-wage workers are not tipped, so the idea that tipping helps people go to college or achieve their dreams is simply false. It’s a market distortion which inflates earnings of young, white servers at the expense of cooks’ earnings, earnings of servers who are black, older, or unattractive, and earnings of servers in low-volume restaurants who end up earnings below minimum wage. It’s discriminatory in a way that would be illegal if management paid it, but is tolerated because customers are the bosses. It creates an unhealthy power dynamic between servers and customers which makes sexual harassment seem OK. And it’s nearly uncorrelated to service quality. Tipping is an artifact of European aristocracy not suited to the 21st century, when customers should pay the same amount for a service, and workers should earn the same amount regardless of skin color or age.

    • Also, consider leaving no tip at your favorite restaurant, see what kind of service they provide the next time you visit, and you’ll see that tipping is *not* optional. Even if it were, the reality is that it washes out for servers; the real effect is that good tippers subsidize the meal of bad tippers. I don’t feel good either knowing I’m subsidizing the meals of other customers, nor being subsidized by them.

      • Lulz

        LOL, have you ever worked in foodservice? I doubt it. Anyways enough with the small minded who look at 2.13 with disgust. Servers make more bank than anyone else. The reason for 2.13 is because tips are thought to equalize the pay with the rest of the staff. Real world is actually they make more than the back of the house, So do bartenders. Stop with the ninny BS folks especially if you have zilch experience in the industry. You already messed things up with your stupid smoking bans that are inane especially in bars where adults supposedly congregate. And more people are outside smoking than inside, Stop with the authoritarian crap from a bunch of insulated snobs that don’t have a clue lulz.

  3. Marley Jones

    In this article: Someone who has never worked for tips in Asheville to pay for their schooling.

    Honestly, what a joke. Gratuity-free restaurants don’t forbid you from leaving an extra cash tip if you wish to leave one. It’s simply noted that you do not have to, as the restaurant is already paying them a fair wage and the cost is included in the price of your food.

    You don’t get to determine the wages of employees at your grocery store or doctor’s office. Why should you get to determine what your server makes? When you receive bad service at the grocery store, you tell the manager and the manager reacts in the way they feel is appropriate – and that generally does not mean the employee’s wages are docked for the day. On the other side of the spectrum, why should servers make more money than the back of house employees, which has traditionally been the case, especially at upscale restaurants? Preparing the food is an effort that deserves reward, but BOH employees generally don’t receive tips.

    Low-wage jobs, with tips or without, barely pay for me to live, let alone pay off student loans. So please dispense with your feel-good nonsense. I would rather know I’m getting paid the same no matter what rather than having to slap a smile on my face and kowtow to people who never intended to leave me more than three dollars on their forty dollar tab anyway. “Where’s the motivation to provide good service?” idiots ask. To that I say, why is anyone motivated to do their job? Because they’re receiving a paycheck and don’t want to get fired or reprimanded? Because if they do well they might get a raise or a promotion? How hard is this to understand?

  4. luther blissett

    “–but because the people I served saw a young lady striving to make something of herself and doing so with grace and a smile.”

    You’re quite sure of that, Cathy? It wasn’t because you were… a young woman? Dear me, the stacked-up cotton-brained incoherence of this letter, not least the idea that food service work is still a part-time recreation for college students and artsy types on “a life’s journey”, and not how people spend all their waking hours to pay rent and bills. And tipping was never and is not ‘crowdfunding’: it is the perpetuation of what masters give servants.

      • boatrocker

        I’ve never workied in the food/bev biz. It never held any allure, and I’ve managed to feed, clothe and house myself doing other things.

        Just the same, I question that Lulz guy’s statement above that ‘servers make more bank than anyone else’- does he mean anyone else in a specific bar/restaurant or does he mean any one else in most other local jobs period?

        If servers do indeed make more bank than anyone else in a specific bar/resaturant, well, they’re still in the food/bev biz and thus not exactly on top of the local wages food chain, right?

        If servers indeed make more bank than other local jobs, then either
        1) the cost of living is locally here is higher than per any other town


        2) Some people only have opinions about money, taxes, private property and put the ideological blinders on when it comes to the sufferings of local folks here who wait on tourists for $.

        Either way I’m so confused and wish someone would set me straight with a Ranydian philosophy as to why local workers should starve, especially since if you’re constantly broke you really have no way to pack up and move to another city.

        Either way, it begs the question- if it were theoretically possible for every underpaid server/bartender to take a day off of work ala a one day strike, who would wait on annoying outta town tourists who snap their fingers to get your attention? Who would take their place? What would happen to our golden goose aka the Tourist Industry? Yeah, I suppose we as a city might start treating those expendable wage slaves better- or would we simply outsource to Asia so as to avoid paying that pesky living wage?

        Just wondering- I don’t claim to have any answers but anything has to be better than the ‘screw the poors’ comments I read here.

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