Gratitude and Gratuity

Been on my mind recently, the matter of gratitude as a state of mind, or an act driven by the state of thankfulness, but without external compulsion, and gratuity; the apparently compulsory, yet non legally obligatory fee you add to a service expense such as when you are eating out and have “have to” tip on top of paying full price for your food or service.

By nature I am generous and giving, without need of an occasion or “special giving day.”  But, I don’t feel that way when it is suggested that on top of what I am paying full, asked for price, for a product or service, that I give or pay more, just as a “gratuity.”  Really.

Tip left for good service at my local Coco's. ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I want to go eat a meal that I can afford, say about ten bucks with tax, I shouldn’t go eat it because I don’t have an extra 2 bucks to give the waiter?

That sucks.  I want and can pay for the food, but in order to get it I need to pay and extra unofficial fee.  Honestly I’m not really all that thankful for stuff I have to pay for.  It’s a commercial business transaction, not a religious experience. I may be thankful that I can afford the fee, but thats an internal thing. We’re all honestly a lot more thankful for stuff that’s free!  The product should cost, the service should be free, so that IF I want, I can further express gratitude for that service with money, or a heartfelt smile, hug, or money.

Some years ago I was working in Japan.  There wasn’t a culture of tipping there.  You ate at a restaurant, and paid the price of your meal.  You got a massage, you paid the listed fee.  You could haggle for prices at some shops, and pay less than the list prices and that was OK.  I liked that.  Some resorts I’ve been to there was no tipping allowed!

Is compulsory and extracted thankfulness really gratitude?  I don’t think so.  “Even in the religious setting where they demand “Give till it hurts, cause the lord loves a cheerful giver…”  If it hurts you are in pain and that is not cheerful, you are acting under compulsion, and your so called gift is tainted with pain and remorse.

Usable restaurant check math

Usable restaurant check math (Photo credit: prettydaisies)

In this new year I will go out and eat if I know I have the money for the bill plus tax.  If I am especially so overwhelmed with the attitude and service and have money to spare I may tip.  If I do not, I may write on the ticket “Thank You, but I cannot afford a tip today, but you were great, really thank you.”  Would that not be gratitude and a gratuity?

Somewhere, a gratuity is defined as a free gift, not an enforced gift.  I will not feel bad about paying the agreed prices, but not gifting indiscriminately.  I will not let use of money be the representative of my state of being or consciousness.  Others may choose to view me through those glasses, but that is looking “through a glass darkly.”  I feel righteously about spending lavishly when I can afford it and spreading the wealth, and with the same dignity I will be frugal and honest with my thankfulness.

There’s one of my resolutions!

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2 thoughts on “Gratitude and Gratuity

  1. Gotta disagree with you on this one man. You have accurately given the definition of a gratuity. But in the commercial sense; a tip, although politely referred to as a gratuity is not the same as the definition you give. Restaurant servers make less than minimum wage (in Fl $4.00 an hour) , they don’t get breaks, and they work hours before and after guests leave. Sure a resturant may be packed when you’re there for two to four hours, the other half of the shift servers are opening up and closing down the resturant for $4 an hour. The food service economy has evolved around the custom of tipping to the point where the intial intention is now meaningless. 20% is a fair tip if you feel like you had really good service and want to show it tip a little more. 15% is acceptable to a server but leave anything less and the person who brought you your food is probably sliently cursing you after you leave. It may sound ungreatful and perhaps it is but that is how the industry operates.

    Restaurant owners count on the fact that servers make decent tips and pay them less accordingly. In fact a decent size restaurant takes a fair chunck of every tip. For example, a bartender gets 1-2% of every tip, a busser gets 1%, a food runner get .5 to 1%, the hostess gets another .5-1% of ther servers money. So you leave 20% the server gets 15%. The server’s total sales are added up every night and each department is “tipped out” accordingly . What does this mean? The amount of each tip isn’t even really taken into account. So if you have a $100 bill and leave me nothing, I still pay everyone their cut of that bill. So if I get no tip from a $100 tab I might actually have to pay money, 5% or $5 (possibly more) to wait on you. That’s a horrible thing for a guy trying to make it through college especially if the bill is more. That’s why some places include a mandatory 18% tip, because if you stiff the guy or girl they may be out some money. Most resturants don’t allow overtime (which still doesn’t break minimun wage) and servers are often stretched thin. Those food runners and bussers enable restaurants to minimize labor costs.

    If you have a problem with the way things have become, find another way to protest. Write a congressman, don’t patronize dine in resutrants, or a least just order out and eat at home. As a full time college student with a wife and kid serving was the only job I could find with flexible hours. I never ate meals with my family and worked every holiday because I was off school and needed money. The system in place really does not benefit the server. Sure you might make $100 a shift maybe $200 on a busy night but it’s exhausting and for every busy night there are twice as many slow weeknights or lunch shifts. It all works out to pretty low pay for your average server. If you dine five star that may be a different story but for the guy at olive garden or any local middle class eatery? It’s rough!

    I agree things should be different. A gratuity should be just that, something extra to show grattitude for superior service but that’s just not the way it is. A hug, or compliment don’t pay the bills and neither does the employer. In other countries restaurants factor in a servers wage and as a result the food costs more, but not here in the good ol’ U.S. it all comes out in the wash either way. If you don’t plan on leaving the customary tip and truly believe you are right, tell the server your inentions ahead of the meal and not in some cryptic way, be hones’t with them. I’ve recieved Bibles instead of tips, theocracy aside, Bibles don’t pay the bills.

    I realize some servers are downright bad and not everyone is struggling to make it through college. If you are a caring person and what to compensate a server fairly ask them about their life, find out what kind of person they are. Look at whats going on if you think your service is inadequate. If the server busy? Is the place full? Is he or she at least polite?

    This is why i’m not a server anymore. It’s a horrible job and you often see the worst of people (we now how people get when they are hungry). The hours are long, the job is stressfull, the pay just isn’t fair. I would never do it again unless I absolutely had to. I told myself it wasn’t that bad when I was working as a server but i’m a positive guy. In retrospect, it was awful. People smile to your face, you give it your all and they leave you little or nothing? Or worse you just payed money (“tip out” remember?) to serve them. If you don’t want to tip be straight forward man up and tell the person before they give you their all. Who knows they just might do a good job anyways.

    • Jesse, dude, thank you for your reply, IT IS AWESOME!

      Your information and the breakdown of what really happens to the tip is eye opening.
      Think how many times customers really like their service and server, and mean to really compensate them in particular, but would bristle at knowing that a chunk of that gratuity is going to staff they have not directly interacted with. I’ll add that I know of places where no one gets tips. Oh, you’ll leave the tip, but the server has to put it into a stash that THE OWNER gets.

      You show how they deserve our sympathy. It makes me feel bad for the servers.

      You mention “…but leave anything less and the person who brought you your food is probably sliently cursing you after you leave. It may sound ungreatful and perhaps it is but that is how the industry operates.” I understand.

      Something is wrong though and it’s a bit of a shame that a person can’t, or shouldn’t, go for a meal, pay the asking price, eat and leave in peace without the ill feelings directed toward them for only paying the agreed price for the meal.
      The part about it being how the industry operates is really my target, not the servers. Recently there were protests by fast food workers demanding a living wage. I support that. I’d rather pay the higher price for the meal, knowing the server is taken care of by the employer, and not depending on my earnings and meager change, than having to feel bad for not paying extra for what I was paying for to begin with. I’ll admit I don’t know what it’s like to not know what you are going to get paid for a job at the end of the week. What you are going to “make.” Sounds like that sucks.

      Let’s remember what the customer went in there for to begin with: a meal, not to pay the salaries of all the people involved in his meal, that’s the employer’s job. The employer is the one who should pay appropriately for the job to be done, providing the meal, to the cook, the wait staff, etc. Don’t you think Mr. Applebee and Mr. Chilli can afford that better than most of us? Oh, it’ll cut into his profit by a teeny bit, but you won’t have staff unsure of their earnings, able to approach all customers equally, not judging the customers on a potential tip-o-meter, or having to view every customer as friend or foe.

      A fair salary with the potential for an added but not obligatory by guilt gratuity of anything to say 5-10 percent I think that would make for far better service.
      “if you have a problem with the way things have become, find another way to protest. “
      Uh, no. Mine is as good as any. And it’s not a protest. It seems to me that going to a meal, getting a massage, having dry cleaning done is a contractual affair. In a contract parties agree to some specifics, and beyond that there is no reasonable expectation of remuneration. They can call the police for me not paying for a meal, but I bet the officer would be baffled about taking me in for not tipping. The author of the article I linked makes some of this situation plain “These days, tipping isn’t about giving a few extra dollars to an exemplary server. It’s an unspoken requirement and if you don’t leave the “few extra dollars,” you’re cheap. You’re vilified by the tipping public and by servers/former servers the world over.”

      When I buy a car, I don’t throw in another $500 to the salesman cause he’s a nice guy, I can, but having met the contractual requirement we can shake and I can go away without them cursing me as I leave (I think). We don’t tip everybody in the grocery store, and I see they work pretty hard too.

      Your point “The food service economy has evolved around the custom of tipping to the point where the intial intention is now meaningless.” Is significant because that industry, the food service economy can change. It can be righted. I’ve lived long enough to see some other industries change, heck even social policies.

      I mentioned the fast food workers protest, maybe it’s backwards. If the customers were the ones to protest, affecting the top guy’s pockets you’d see the change a lot quicker.

      Again, thanks for you comments and the information. I bet I’m not the only one who didn’t know the other side of the story.

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