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Rated: E · Article · Opinion · #1623549
Illustrates why it is not Ok to tip less than 20% of your restaurant bill.
         When you go out to eat at a restaurant, how much do you tip?  Do you base your tip percentage on the amount of the bill, service, both, or none of the above?
         Why, you ask, am I interested in what you tip when you go out to dinner?  I am interested because I just may be your server.  Your tip, as well as the pool of other tips I receive throughout a night, are what help me make my living, and your tip goes directly towards paying for my lifestyle. On a 'good' night, those nights when people are feeling generous and jovial (usually during the holiday season), I drive home with a smile slapped across my face because I know that I can buy groceries that week.  You may not think that your tip comes down to my livelihood, and it doesn't solely.  I just hope that this article may help you to understand that, your tip and the tips of your peers, have a huge impact on how easily, or how hard, it's going to be for me to pay my bills that month. 
         Let's start off by talking about guest perception.  So, you come to my restaurant and see that we are very busy.  The hostess seats you, I wait on you, you enjoy your dinner (appetizer, entree, dessert, and drinks), and then the bill arrives.  Do you assume that because the restaurant is busy, and me accordingly, it is safe to assume I have made a lot of money for the evening?  If so, you are that table that all servers dread.  Because, as soon as you've adopted that assumation, you've wired your mind to make it Ok for you to THINK about tipping a little less than you may have initially decided upon when walking into the restaurant. 
         But before you think about laying down that 10% tip as opposed to 20% or above, let me share some restaurant facts with you.  First let's talk about tip share.  Of the $60-$70 I make in a night, 3%  of that is automatically pulled from my earnings to account for tip share which, at our restaurant, is given to our bussers and our bartenders (thankfully we don't have to tip out our hosts, as many restaurants do, otherwise that number would be 5%).  More specifically, 3% of every dollar earned. 
         I am pro tipshare, seeing as how I bartend many nights at my restaurant.  Sometimes tipshare is the only money I've made in a night.  The frustration comes when I am serving and not making very good tips.  Tipshare gets higher for bartenders and bussers when the restaurant gets busier.  The more drinks the bartender has to make for my tables, the more tipshare they will be getting from me.  The penny-pincher that I am, this gets woesome, but all in all I can handle the tipshare deal.
         The entity that gets the largest percentage of the sum of my earnings would be our government.  Taxes (Don't we love them?). If you are one who believes that servers don't always claim all of their earnings, you are correct.  Many don't.  But, for the few of us who are actually very honest people, taxes have become one of our worst enemies. 
         For the last four months of being employed at my job, I have not gotten a paycheck that wasn't $0.00.  How is this possible?  At my restaurant the hourly rate of a server is $2.13.  Of my paycheck Federal tax, Medicare, Social Security, and the Kansas state tax are automatically with held. 
         I'm holding my last paycheck stub right now, and it states that I earned (hourly only), $249.64, for a two week period.  Of that $249.64, $139.37 went straight to taxes.  Combine that with whatever I make in tips of a night, and the other $110.27 gets to go straight to taxes too, to pay for the taxes due on my tip earnings (It should be noted that we never have to pay 'back' taxes, if our paycheck can't cover the taxes owed, the restaurant picks up the tab).  This leaves me with no paycheck at all. 
         I do like my job.  I am good at my job, and most of the time, I can make good money (considering).  But, going to school and trying to balance my life between the two, school and work, is difficult, and is only made that much more difficult when I am getting lousy tips and not making any money.  I don't want to be a server forever, that's why I'm going to school!  But you, as a consumer, have the ability to make my life easier...and while you don't owe me any favors, you do owe it to me to show me (with your money), that my time is more valuable than 10% of your total bill.  Please have the courtesy to not belittle me in that way.  Tip me well!
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