Think economic woes are hitting your wallet hard? Try working for tips for a living.
I am a server in a local restaurant and bar, and I am writing with the hope that my letter might make more people in the community think a little harder when it is time to tip your waiter or waitress.
I know that times are tough on everyone right now, but for us servers, times have been really rough lately. Did you know that most restaurants only pay us a wage of $2.13 per hour? That means that we are depending on your tips. Your generosity and monetary appreciation (or lack thereof) for our service either makes or breaks our day at work. Lately, most of my and my fellow servers’ days at work have, sadly, been break-type days, and our wallets are feeling the pinch. In the last several weeks, most of us have seen our tips drop by half or even more, and not for lack of customers. Yes, business has slowed a little, but the restaurant where I work still has a waiting list for tables most nights. People just aren’t tipping like they used to, or they aren’t tipping at all.
Imagine if your income suddenly and unexpectedly dropped by half or more. This is what many servers are experiencing these days. Many of us have kids to feed, and all of us have bills to pay. And the restaurant does not provide a steady hourly rate to back us up if we don’t make the tips we need. So please try to think of your server, when he or she takes the time to work hard for you, by considering the following things when deciding how much to tip:
• The expected tip is 15 percent of the bill. Please plan to leave at least this much for our service. Otherwise you have essentially asked us to work for you for nothing. Would you be happy to work for nothing?
• If you cannot afford the tip, but still want the restaurant food, consider takeout. Same food, without the need to tip.
• If you sit at one of our tables for more than an hour or so, please leave more than the expected 15 percent. Think about it: If you sit there taking up one of my tables for four hours, yet only leave me 15 percent of your bill, you have just cost me perhaps three or four times that tip amount by preventing me from turning the table once per hour. Please think about compensating me for that potential loss, as well as for my time spent waiting on you.
• We remember you when you tip well, and this will ensure that you get great service every time. Conversely, we also remember you when you don’t tip so well.
Please remember these things when it’s time to pay the bill at your favorite restaurant—and thanks!
— Sabina Ronson