Can someone please explain to me why we’re supposed to tip people? According to the knower of all, Wikipedia:

tip (also called a gratuity) is a voluntary extra payment made to certain service sector workers in addition to the advertised price of the transaction. Such payments and their size are a matter of social custom. Tipping varies among cultures and by service industry. Though by definition a tip is never legally required, and its amount is at the discretion of the patron being served, in some circumstances failing to give an adequate tip when one is expected may be considered very miserly, a violation of etiquette, or unethical.

I understand the theory behind tipping. People in the service industry who give excellent service get a little extra reward. The reward will give them incentive to continue to perform in an exemplary manner, creating a positive cycle of great service. Too bad reality is nothing like theory.

In reality, tipping is nothing more than a system of blackmail instituted by food servers. You tip us, and we’ll make sure your burger isn’t basted in the cook’s special sauce. Servers figure out in about 20 minutes that they’re getting tips pretty much no matter what.

Think back of your last 10 trips to a restaurant. How many times would you describe the service as excellent? Maybe I go to crappier restaurants than you do, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I got excellent service. That’s not to say I get bad service, it just isn’t outstanding. So why is it I have to tip for average service?  Why am I rewarding mediocrity?

Restaurant owners have embraced our willingness to tip. They’ve responded by paying servers everywhere next to minimum wage. The customers directly subsidize the living standards of underpaid wait staff. Is this right? One of the reasons why serving is an attractive career choice for young, uneducated women is because the customer pays them money simply for looking pretty. Often, they can make a decent wage doing something that, frankly, isn’t a very difficult skill to master.

Sure, it’s a racket. We tolerate it because we’re scared of the consequences, and because we feel compelled to. Let’s at least be honest about the whole thing.

Why am I expected to tip my server or my hairdresser, yet not the cashier at the grocery store? I worked in a grocery store for more than 5 years and  even if the cashier gave service that went above and beyond expectations, she never got rewarded. It’s the same with people who pump gas or who find that tough to find product at Walmart. Those people are providing service as well. Why don’t they get tipped? Where’s the line? Why is the line where it is? It’s because it doesn’t make sense.

It’s not like people in other industries haven’t tried. I was in 7-11 the other day and noticed a tip jar next to the till. Explain to me why an employee at 7-11 deserves a tip? I poured my own slurpee and then came to them to pay! How do I figure out a tip on a $1.39 slurpee? 15% of $1.40… here’s a quarter. Don’t spend it all in one place. Why is it culturally acceptable for me to not tip at the 7-11, yet it isn’t at a restaurant?

The bottom line is I’m not a welfare program, or someone’s parents, or a business subsidy program. I don’t know why I should be responsible for bringing someone’s wage up to a minimum living level. I don’t get why I’m expected to give a reward for very average service. And yet I’ll keep doing it, because if I don’t, I’ll be labeled as a cheap asshole.

Am I the only one who thinks the system doesn’t make sense? Or am I just a cheap idiot? Feel free to call me names in the comments.

Tell everyone, yo!