Do I have any waiters/resses as readers? Let’s hope not, because today’s post is on tipping inflation. Here’s a hint: I may be slightly opposed.

As I’ve wrote before, I think tipping is kind of stupid. In theory, your little financial reward is supposed to make your server try harder to impress you. Without that incentive, she’d barely refill your Diet Pepsi and pretend to care how your meal is. She’d still laugh at my jokes though, mostly because my jokes are awesome.

In reality, tipping does very little to motivate your server. Wait staff quickly figure out the tip is coming for just mediocre service, so why bust their asses? Tipping has gone from a reward for extra good service to a form of institutionalized blackmail. If you tip your server, they’ll make sure the cook hasn’t topped your burger with his own special sauce. Restaurants know people are going to tip (almost) no matter what, so they use the allure of tips to underpay their wait staff.

True story: I went to a restaurant with friends 2 YEARS AGO and we got horrible service. The waitress was miserable and didn’t want to do anything. We asked for drink refills and got told “I’ll get around to it sometime. I’m pretty busy.” So I stiffed her on the tip for a $60 tab. And I’m still scared to go back in the place. What if she remembers? What if she farts on my steak?

Anyhoo, just in case you’re a moron and don’t know anything about tipping, there are all sorts of guides out there that have yo ignorant ass covered. I would know, I read all of them. It’s just part of the extensive research I do for every post. There’s no need to thank me, it’s really my pleasure. But some money would be nice. Please send it to:

Nelson Smith
Secret Military Air Force Bace
Yukon, Canada
Some Yukon-y sounding postal code

Half the PF community wants to kick me in the balls. I have to take precautions.

Most of these tipping guides recommend the following:

  • 15% for okay service
  • 20-25% for good service
  • 10% for poor service

First off, giving 10% for poor service is such crap. Somebody gives me poor service and I still reward them? How did that become acceptable? Is this Soviet Russia? If tipping is all about incentives, then we need to take incentives all the way. If I’m dissatisfied  I’m going to send a message by leaving no tip. What am I supposed to do, bitch to their boss? I’m a polite Canadian, I can’t do that.

And secondly, when did 20-25% become the norm? When I was a wee Nelson, 10-15% was the norm. As recently as 2004, Miss Manners (which is apparently a real person) suggested 15% was the acceptable amount. Are you going to argue with an unverified Miss Manners? She would give you a tongue lashin’, politely of course.

Tipping has increased 33-66% in just the past few years. I remember with double Canada’s 7% GST was a fairly generous tip. Maybe I just hang around cheap people who were crappy tippers, but am I the only one who can remember when tipping was cheaper?

Why are people so willing to accept tip inflation? There are a few reasons.

People tend to feel sorry for servers. I’ll admit, it’s physically taxing work. Carrying around trays of drinks and food probably gives a decent upper body workout, and I’m sure a waiter walks a few miles during a typical shift. Not only are people willing to shrug off below average service, but they’re more willing to open up their wallets for someone who they kinda pity.

If you’re an attractive female with a non-miserable attitude, you will do well as a server. Guys will tip her because they want to jump her bones, women will appreciate that she’s pleasant. Pretty much everything works out for you if your an attractive female. We should totally go out.

But here’s the big reason why we’ve been tricked into giving bigger tips – because we want people to like us.

Remember how I haven’t been back to the restaurant since I stiffed my waitress on the tip? The steak was GREAT. I wanted to lick the plate after I finished. But I haven’t been back because I know that waitress will not like me, assuming she remembers what happened.

I don’t really live in fear of people spitting in my food. There’s just too many potential witnesses. But a waitress could make things hard in more subtle ways, by taking her sweet time, not being attentive or whatever. It would make things awkward, which we generally don’t like.

By giving your waitstaff a generous tip, you’re telling them that you are somebody who has their back. We do it even with the service is pedestrian because we want the guy who we just made idle chit-chat with to like us. Restaurants and their lobby groups have figured this out and used it to push us to give bigger tips. This benefits the restaurant business in all sorts of ways.

So congratulations. Because of you wanting some 18 year old hottie to like you, I have to pay 20% every time I get an non-attractive waitress. I hope you’re all happy.

Tell everyone, yo!