Say Goodbye to the Automatic Gratuity

rest in peace

rest in peace

Today is a sad day for many of us in the restaurant world. If I didn’t like my hair so much, I would have pulled it out when I heard about the new IRS rules that are going into effect on January 1, 2014. A lot of you aren’t going to like it. You know that automatic gratuity that we all love so much? You know the one. The one that’s usually 18-20% and it gets added to a party of six or more? Well, kiss it goodbye because it’s as done as a bottle of Absolute Citron in my apartment. So many people have written and asked me for my thoughts on this and I have hesitated to respond because it involves a lot of legal mumbo jumbo that I don’t want to misinterpret. For a much clearer explanation of the new law, click here to a real website written by hotel lawyers who probably don’t type with two fingers like I do. Jim Butler and Travis Gemoets know what they’re talking about, but please allow me to give you my condensed version.

Automatic gratuities are going to be classified as wages instead of tips which means that restaurant owners are going to have to do a lot more paperwork to keep track of these “service charges” and will have to withhold taxes and report them to the IRS. If your restaurant owner is anything like every one I have ever known, they are going to be like, “Aww, fuck that shit. Just scratch out that line on the bottom of the menu about adding the tip and let the waiter take his fucking chances.”

Prepare to be screwed, fellow servers. That automatic gratuity was there for a fucking reason. Contrary to what many people believe, it wasn’t there just so the waiter could give half-assed service knowing he had a set 20% tip. (I know a lot of servers do that and if you’re one of them, you suck.) The added gratuity was there to protect the server from spending his whole evening on one party of 15 that is celebrating Grandma’s 90th birthday, but Grandma thinks that a shiny quarter is still a good tip. At most places, we pay taxes based on our sales, so the added tip was there to make sure we were getting at least what the government expects us to receive. Also, if you have to tip out to support staff and that tip is based on sales, then that added tip was there to ensure that we weren’t losing money by waiting on some cheap ass party of ten. Say a ten-top has a bill of $200 and you have to tip out 4% of it to various people. That means that you owe $8 before a tip has even been calculated. The table should tip at least 15%, or $30, leaving you with $22 for yourself. If they only leave 10% you still owe $8 to the busser, food runner, bar, etc. But what if they don’t leave you anything? You will still owe $8 meaning you just paid money to wait on someone.

Restaurant owners don’t want any hassle so it’s going to be the servers who will suffer the most from this. Gone are the days when a server was happy to have a large party seated in his section. Seeing a group of ten women having a baby shower at Chili’s is never a comforting sight but at least you knew you would get to auto-grat them. Now, you’re gonna be lucky if a table like that leaves you with anything more than a bunch of wrapping paper, empty iced tea glasses and the smell of Jaclyn Smith perfume. Who knows? Maybe restaurants will still allow us to add the gratuity and they will happily fold it into our wages and claim the taxes for us and make sure that we are all happy to be at work. I’m sure they will do that right after they start paying for the uniforms they require us to wear, giving us the breaks that we are legally entitled to during a 10-hour double and offering us paid vacation and health benefits. Wait, what was that I just saw? I think it was a unicorn flying out my butt while singing “It’s Today” from Mame.

Good luck, servers. It looks like 2014 is going to take a bite out of our asses.

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136 Responses to “Say Goodbye to the Automatic Gratuity”

  1. Barbie says:

    I work at a hotel chain bar. I guess I have the best of all worlds, our room and credit card charged tips already come on our paycheck so this shouldn’t be a big deal for me… but also working in a hotel gets you PTO and benefits so I guess I’m just in the right spot. If they didn’t force me to atleast claim all my documented tips I never would have had the income to buy a house, and if I (god forbid) get fired, I’ll get more unemployment. Sorry if I seem to be tooting my own horn but, actually not getting all of your money on a nightly basis is a good thing… your less likely to buy rounds at the local pub after work and wake up broke and hungover.

  2. Lola says:

    My amazing restaurant got rid of it a month ago to get us to used it….right before the holidays! I am the server who works the large party stations on the weekends so I gave it one shot…..4% on a party of 10 and then 6% on a party of 20. I won’t make that mistake again and will no longer work those stations!

    • dontcare says:

      Doesn’t matter if its 20 or 50, you’re paid to do a job and you’re doing it, good for you.

      • sally says:

        oh shut up.

      • Grizzled Vet says:

        Go back under your bridge, troll.

      • kbot89 says:

        Yes, surely the $2.13/hour server wages will compensate for terrible tips.

        • heywood says:

          actually you are still making the state minimum which is more that is just what they can pay you with your tip credit

        • Cory says:

          In California regardless if your receive tips or not you are still making the state minimum wage of 9.00 an hour and you get hired on knowing that there is potential for you to make more. But with that said, if you want more you need to work for it. If my service was amazing I will tip in the 20%-30% ballpark but I what I can’t stand is the waiter/waitress that feels that they are entitled to the 20+% regardless of how they preform as if it was welfare. Gratuity is based on performance, if you give crapy service you better expect to receive a crappy tip, yes you will get screwed by some tabled but all in all it works out and if you can’t deal with that get another job.

      • Aj says:

        I actually make 5 bucks an hour so if i’m getting a 5% tip on a $250 bill and i still have to tip out , after running around for 20 people for at least two hours i am actually not gettting paid to do my job , more like doing my job and paying someone else to do their job

  3. Sara O says:

    We have always counted all tips as part of our revenue, and paid them out weekly to the servers after taxes. This was the advice I was given when we started our business. We end up with a higher tax liability, but I’m a-scared of the IRS. I think the auto-grat is the “tip” of the iceberg (forgive the pun)– you know the IRS wants every crumb they can get and unreported tips must make them mental.

  4. Johnty Pinkstedder, ghastly fop says:

    Easy for a not-so-closet socialist like me to say but…hey, how about just paying a goddamned living wage and treating it as a cost of doing business and dispensing with this tipping shit altogether? Or, if you’re a higher-end place, a professional wage corresponding to the professional demands/expectations on the service staff?

    • DanORants says:

      Most servers do earn a living wage.

      Actually, many would take a huge pay-cut if they were to earn hourly what some consider “a living wage”…. for example, if a server is averaging less than $20/hr after tips are figured, they are in the wrong business.

      That’s a socialist for you – spread the misery around for the “greater good” (meaning, whomever is in charge).

    • Andrew says:

      First let me start by saying serving is a sales job first and foremost, the whole technical side of it (which isn’t easy in itself) is secondary. As a server you make about an 18-20 percent commission on everything you sell (which is pretty high if you talk to folks in other sales jobs), and if you don’t look at it this way you are an idiot or just doing it for the fun of it.
      Now ask yourself in how many other professions is it okay for a persons wages to be based on race, sexual orientation, whether you are male or female, weight, age, the color of your hair or eyes, your accent, whether or not you are thought of as good looking by the person paying you, and I could go on and on. This happens to servers everyday thousands of times.
      So I say to hell with an increased hourly/living wage, and to hell with tipping. I say adjust the menu prices accordingly, and let the business pay their salespeople their commissions. If you are a customer who receives bad service you can speak to the servers supervisor and let the supervisor manage their staff accordingly, and they probably will throw you some sort of compensation for the bad experience. There are other options as well, you can post a bad review online, tell your friends to stay away, or just don’t go back, just like you would with just about every other type service industry out there.
      Owners would be happy because their sales will go up (there are a lot of idiots out there), The IRS would be really happy, and the server will get every penny that they worked for.

      This is all coming from an industry veteran who has served tables for over 16 years and has spent the last 4 months living in a country where no one tips or is expected to, and the average quality of service is better than in the states.

      • PCC says:

        Yeah, that’ll really enhance the customer experience.

      • PCC says:

        As for your ex-US experience, I agree with you except the part about the server being paid based on commission. Are you really working in a clip joint like that? Most non-US countries pay wait staff on an hourly basis like a proper job, and add 10% service charge which usually goes straight into the owner’s pocket. Tips are usually small change only. Yes, I think it’s a better system for everyone except the above-average server, who basically gets the same hourly wage as everyone else, with a minor differential based on long service.

        • Andrew says:

          For the above average server, look at it this way if servers were still making 18-20% commission instead of tip + the usual
          $2.13 an hour, a server’s party of 4 at Ihop isn’t going to pay out as much as the party of 4 at Hell’s Kitchen (on a good night)who’s server busted their ass, learned about fine food and wine, and worked their way into a higher position in their career. Just like a salesperson at a Lamborghini Dealership makes more than a salesperson at Joe’s Used Car Lot even though the commission percentage is the same

      • Beth says:

        As an owner, I will tell you that you have no clue as to the profit margin in most restuarants. If an operator does everything correctly….5-10% of sales at best.
        Slightly lower if you own our restuarant, where we give paid vacation to BOH within the first year. A free shift drink to all employees and employee meals at cost. That being said…most owners have to sets of books and therefore have no need to report the gratuity. Doubling the FOH payroll would be the end of the restuarant. Raising menu prices to the degree necessary is a horrible option also. The customer would never have it!

        • Andrew says:

          The point I’m trying to make is the tipping system is dated and unfair altogether, my offered solution would only work if it was adopted by everyone at the same time. An alternative would be to make auto-grat mandatory for all parties of all sizes instead of raising menu prices and once again this would have to adopted by all restaurants at the same time. As an owner wouldn’t you want a customer to have more motivation to speak to you about one of your employees not doing their job properly, as opposed to leaving a bad tip to which the server just eats it and you never hear a thing about it until the 1 star review hits tripadviser? I understand the reality, every restaurant isn’t going to get together and start practicing this, but a law passed mandating it to avoid any further lost taxes…?

  5. Karen says:

    I HATE automatic gratuity because a lot of places sneak it in. I understand that a party over five should tip (they sometimes don’t), but its far more often that a party of two gets auto-grat after a certain time without knowing it. If you bring me one coffee and a refill I’ll leave a $5 tip, but if you bring my food at different times, only bring one refill, and otherwise ignore me idc how many people are in my party you ain’t getting squat.

    I’d appreciate if the gratuity required a signature before the meal. By signing, you would agree and acknowledge the fee. I don’t think parties under three should have to pay gratuity regardless of the time of day or year.

    Initially, gratuity is designed to protect servers from large parties taking up large amounts of time and not leaving a dime. Its assumed that a server will work harder on servicing the larger party, but that’s definitely not always true. Let one of their friends come in and not only will the friends get comped drinks, but your party of any size will cease to exist after the food is served. Plus a lot of places purposely only give you one refill.

    For every party of 10 unsupervised teenagers that leave tips in change under a pile of salt or every group of old church people that leave one dollar after squatting in loud conversations for hours (Ive had the pleasure of serving both kinds many times), remember that there’s someone like me and my family stacking their dishes and leaving $20-$25 for a $15 check because we all know how hard those servers are working!

    • dontcare says:

      Generally I’ll fight the auto gratuity if the server is a jerk and I won’t pay it. And I’ll alsonlet the server know if they were good that they lost money because of the auto gratuity.

      • Laurent says:

        Why do you have to be a dick about it? If they auto grat you less than you’d normally leave, just add in the difference. Are you personally offended that they didn’t take a risk with you? Get over it. People need to pay rent and serving is stressful enough without being scared you won’t make the utilities on time.

      • Emily says:

        Although my ultra corporate restaurant got rid of auto grat early this year, before that it was required for ALL parties over 10. Period. Dick cheese.

      • kbot89 says:

        You could tip on top of autogratuity in most case. And in places that have…or now had autogratuity, it says it on the menu most of the time. All of this is inconsequential however, because now autogratuity is being eliminated.

      • meg says:

        Do you take a pay cut when you have a bad day? If you recieved everything you asked for isn’t that all that is required of a server, or is attitude included. It is too bad everyone doesnt work for gratuity, lots of people would be taking pay cuts for their own attitudes.

      • PCC says:

        Hey, like the other website says, “If you can’t afford to tip, then you shouldn’t go out to dinner”. Has anyone ever suggested that you are a cheap stick fascist? If not, then I am.

    • D-Server says:

      What are you going on about? You clearly have never worked in this industry or been close to anyone who has…nor do u get what auto-grat is. it’s applied to parties of 8 or more…standard not “snuck in” cuz something American consumers should know & agree to by requesting seating for that many people & expecting the added effort from staff necessary in order to provice them with good service. parties or 2 or 3 never received auto-grat. if that really happened to u (it didn’t)..u should have spoken to a manager…and u should always leave at least 10% of squat cuz from our side & that of mature US restaurant patrons..people who stiff servers are tacky, ignorant, low class degenerates who at least are funny to watch like vids of chimps dressed in clothes doing real people stuff are.

  6. Jessica says:

    Yeah. A higher wage would be better. I work at a high end place. The demands, knowledge, and professionalism involved are much higher than (no offense) a chain restaurant or casual dining place. Luckily, we have the ability to grat 6 or more, but we rarely do that. I make more when I don’t. So I personally won’t miss it. Plus I agree, being paid on a check anyways is so much better. I don’t get my money at the end of the night. I think as long as you provide good service you generally get great tips.

  7. dontcare says:

    This isn’t a big deal, just do your job and be good at it and you’ll be fine. The goal is to not depend on money outside of your salary and do not live beyond your means. What I ended up doing is changing careers when it wasn’t enough for me, requires some work, but its not impossible.

    • stuart says:

      you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. I work about 30 hours/week. On my $2.63/hour salary, that would lave me with less than $90/week to make ends meet. Of course we rely on tips. That’s how we’re paid. If you couldn’t handle waiting tables then I guess it’s a good thing you got another job, but that doesn’t mean you have to be an enormous dick to every other server. Why not go get a fucking life and leave us alone.

      • stanley says:

        In our state must be 8 or more in party to auto-grat… if they force the auto grat on us (our party is usually always 9 or 10 then we do not give anything extra and its your lose… if they dont auto grat we always give at least 20% and sometimes more if the waiter/waitress is very good… I personally detest the auto grat but then again I am a good tipper… I would rather see them raise the prices of the food, and pass on that expense to the servers to increase their salary… it will never pass, but would be nice, buy the way I am a former server too and I always made good tips without the autograt because I was great to my patrons and I never ever got stiffed…

        • akak907 says:

          You know you can leave more than the auto grat, right? If you don’t and just chalk up what you would have tipped to “your lose,” (I think you meant loss there), then you’re a dick.

        • sarah says:

          you can be the best server out there to your patrons and not get good tips because people are cheap, dicks, or UNEDUCATED…good people get stiffed, just bc you didnt doesnt mean you were a good server…Many times people dine at my bar “oh you were amazing, we had such a great time talking to you, thank you, cant wait to come back again” i look at their check, they just left me 5 bucks on 80 dollar check. happens all the time. people need to be gratted, bc i just paid my bar back, my busser, my food runner, and am negative 5 bucks now. get it?! got it?!

      • jg says:

        At the point where you are saying that people should have to spend more of their hard earned money because your boss is a POS and won’t pay you more than you are the one who clearly has no idea what they are talking about. The fact that you feel that way shows you care more about being a resentful asshole for not doing more with your life then to try and do something about the fucked up wages that most people in this country are paid.

        • D-Server says:

          What are you going on about? You clearly have never worked in this industry or been close to anyone who has…nor do u get what auto-grat is. it’s applied to parties of 8 or more…standard not “snuck in” cuz something American consumers should know & agree to by requesting seating for that many people & expecting the added effort from staff necessary in order to provice them with good service. parties or 2 or 3 never received auto-grat. if that really happened to u (it didn’t)..u should have spoken to a manager…and u should always leave at least 10% of squat cuz from our side & that of mature US restaurant patrons..people who stiff servers are tacky, ignorant, low class degenerates who at least are funny to watch like vids of chimps dressed in clothes doing real people stuff are.

          • D-Server says:

            oops that comment was meant for some dick above, my bad. but maybe something you should read because you’re worse. People hard-earned money? clearly u of the opinion that there’s some sort of difference between server’s earnings and “people’s” hard earned money who have other..more real and important jobs they earn enuff of it at to spend it on the LUXURY of dining out & putting someone to the work of servicing it who, in ur preset perspective, should be “doing more” with his/her “life” because of willingly doing so…?? WTF?? and do you actually THINK these low wages are up to each of our “POS” bosses to do something about at every individual restaurant in every town in every state!!!? If so, why r commenting here if u have no clue that it’s a national standard and truly..just the the way it is all across the country especially in big chain stores. Thankfully, I’m in California and we get min. wage & overtime…this is why we aren’t as freaked out of this outrageous bloodsucking law. The only thing to do about changing the wages is changing ur job…but who, sir, will be left to be servers if we all thought like you???? I suppose in that universe they would raise the wages to where tips don’t matter

    • Charlotte says:

      Hilarious! Let’s not depend on money that’s outside of our salaries – meaning not depend on anything outside of my $2.63/hour salary, which I still get taxed on? Or should I allow myself to depend on my “salary” plus an estimated average of 10% tips? Awesome, this is going to be great! I’ve always wanted to live in a cardboard box and eat ramen noodles around the clock!

    • Chris says:

      Stuart, with tips you are probably making $20 – $25 an hour, most of it tax free. Now thats what I call a great deal,

  8. CD Smith says:

    Never been a server, but I always leave at least 20% even *with* auto grat. Hope this ends better than it seems it will – serving is a difficult job, and it sucks to not be paid a livable wage otherwise.

  9. David says:

    Tax implications aside, I’ve never liked the auto grat. Always thought that it hurts good waiters and benefits bad ones. I think most servers are aware that the days of mostly tax-free tips are over. In a time when 80+% of transactions are electronic, servers have had to join the rest of us in paying taxes on most or all of their income. A hard working server still makes a good wage at the end of the day. And most high end places would never charge an auto-grat.

  10. cmh says:

    I think therefor the 30-35% I tip out on that gratuity (buser, dishwasher, bar, and host) is a tax write off and I will be keeping track of and claiming that which is absolutely fair and I don’t see how the IRS can claim otherwise.

  11. SwaggyRoc says:

    lol @ these bitches crying. I cant wait to drop a 0% tip and look at their faces

    • slopslinger says:

      Please tell me this douchebag lives on the east coast

      • kbot89 says:

        No, please tell me they live on the west coast! Or better yet in Texas so they wont bother either of us. What a jerk…

        • kbot89 says:

          Better yet swaggyroc, how about you do us all a favor and don’t go out to eat anywhere. Then you wont have to tip and you can save us all the trouble serving your table for nothing. (Got a little bit more angry the second time I saw your arrogant comment).

          • Andrew says:

            Wonder how many boogers and other gross things he’s ingested at his favorite restaurants? Don’t fu*k with people who handle your food moron!

  12. Krissy says:

    You know, I see all these people saying “I would tip appropriately regardless of auto grat” yeah, but we as servers can’t guarantee that. Like, last night I went in to work, only to find that our computers were down, so EVERYTHING we did had to be handwritten. We had to handwrite the tickets to the kitchen, and the receipts, oh and if they gave us a credit card, we had to write that information down, too, because we couldn’t run them. Well there was a 12 top reserved, and everyone else refused to take them because of all the work that came along with writing down all those orders 5-6 times a piece. So I took the table. They came in around 6, in groups of 4 at a time, no one wanted to wait on the rest of the party, so I had to take their orders, write them down, and give them to the kitchen at least 3 times, but oh wait, they want 2 bottles of wine and some martinis, yeah sure, I can do that. Basically this table kept me running for my entire shift. Every time I went back to the table, someone wanted something else from the kitchen. of course, at the end of it, they all wanted separate checks, so I had to write up 8 different checks for them. Well when it came time to pay (Mind you, I WARNED all of them ahead of time that our computers were down and everything had to be hand written, including the credit card payments) they were like “You can still run cards, right?” I explained that, no, we could not. So they ask how we would take credit cards. I told them how we wrote them down on special slips and locked them in the safe until they could be charged the next day. They flipped out and refused. So I let my manager talk to them. They asked if they could go to the atm, that was right across the street, less than 20 yards away. She said sure. NOW, since our computers weren’t working, I didn’t bother trying to add gratuity myself, adding everything up and adding in tax took long enough, I didn’t want to make them wait to figure out the gratuity for all those checks. So I explained when I handed them their checks that gratuity was NOT added. Well, they figured out that if they pooled all their money together, they had JUST enough to pay their bill. But guess what they didn’t have money to do? TIP ME. I worked my ass off for that table for 2 and a half hours and didn’t get a CENT. Not only that, but the restaurant closed at 9…they wouldn’t leave until after 10:30. So not only did they waste my time and not tip me, they made me stay at work for almost 2 hours after I could have left. We had all of our sidework done by 9:15. I could have went home. But instead I had to sit around and wait on them to go home. Oh and did I mention that the atm was within walking distance, so it would have been really easy for even just one of those women to go get cash while they were all sitting around, but nope. My ability to pay my bills isn’t their problem. While I was serving these women, they kept me so busy, I passed up my turn in rotation twice, once of which were regular customers who I knew would leave me at least 10, but I knew I couldn’t possibly give them quality service so I gave them to another server. This is why we need autograt, because of inconsiderate assholes that do this.

    • Chris says:

      Why should one tip at all. TIP stands for to insure promptness. It is completely optional and Auto gratuity is nothing but extortion with a different name. It used to be that you can tip if you like the service. More than often large parties get bad service because they are guaranteed the 20% tip. Where else do one have to pay 20% extra.

      For those who complain that the wage is less than minimum wage, didnt you know that when you joined? The restaurant industry made it that way so they dont have to pay there employees. It is the only industry where the customer directly pays for the restaurant’s employees. Can you magine going to a place like Walmart and you have to pay their employees. Will never happen.

      Coming back to the wages, waiting jobs are always in high demand simply because almost all of them would make significantly more than the minimum wage because of the tips and tax free too. IRS expects the tip to be compensate for the difference in minimum wage. Anything over that is tax free and everyone I know who work as a waiter makes an average of $20 – $25 an hour with tips. Imagine getting over half of your income tax free.

      So good riddance to extortion. Now customers can tip the amount they wish. It is a win win for everyone because those who have avoided sit down places and chose fast food and buffets would now come back to the traditional places.

      • sally says:

        You’re kind of a douche, aren’t you?

      • Mark says:

        To say that the word “TIP” comes from the acronym “To Insure Promtpness” is False. If that was the case, you would use the word ensure making it “TEP” and you would pay it in advance of the meal. I’ve always liked auto gratuity. People argue that it makes the server lazy and leads to bad service. I find the opposite is true. If I’m guaranteed 20% of my sales, you can bet Im gonna try and sell the most I can. To do that you have to be super attentive and pleasant. So a side effect of auto gratuity is actually good customer service. Go figure.
        BTW, a good server thats been in the game a while already knows how you’re gonna tip before you even order. Very rarely do they get surprised by a tip. If the service is bad, you’ve probably been profiled.

      • Chris says:

        Mark, “If I’m guaranteed 20% of my sales, you can bet Im gonna try and sell the most I can”. not necessarily what the customer wants, and you can see this in any restaurant.

        • JH says:

          Chris, just shut up.

          Gratuity protects servers from IDIOTS.

          When large parties get the bill and decide to first pay cash then split the remainder of the bill on credit cards, a majority of the time these retards only tip on the credit card amounts (and half of the time 20% is not obtained even on these amounts). This leaves a huge gap in the actual performance & tip relationship. A professional server who delivers a quality experience is usually fucked when parties decide to pay in this manner.

  13. Sam says:

    I still don’t really understand how this is monitored by the IRS. If push came to shove couldn’t management just add the auto-grat to the table, guest pays and then the auto-grat is removed from the POS and the tip is just added in like it was a normal 20% tip? The guests’s total bill would be the same. That would work on Aloha.

    • Andy says:

      I’ve wondered the same thing. I’ve worked at places where you can after-the-fact delete the auto-grat and then simply use that same number as a regular tip. The amount doesn’t change one bit, just how it’s allocated.

  14. Tiff says:

    I ALWAYS autocrat for parties of six or more. It has never let me down, because anyone who is cheap has to pay the minimum and anyone who wants to add more can, and will. I have always used it so I have never had to complain about a large party. I have had co workers complain about getting horrible tips from large parties and what I don’t think people understand is out of a group of six or ten or whatever, half of the people might be cheap. So while you fancy yourself a 20 percent tipper six or your friends might have left a two dollar tip on their fifty plus dollar tabs because they get to fill it out themselves. Auto gray is good for everyone because only cheap assholes complain about it. Too many people turn insane at restaurants, like its your own chance to be mini kings and queens for two hours and you lose your damn minds! Everyones food didn’t get there at exactly the same time? You carry eighteen plates over and once, you tell the kitchen to ignore the entire restaurant and make your table priority number one. I will consider to autocrat so I can keep seeing that pale pissed off look on assholes faces that just freaking warms my heart :)

  15. Melissa says:

    I am very conflicted about auto grat because some straight up don’t deserve auto grat! Such as this moron who asked if I was pregnant after we were done eating. Needless to say it honestly took everything I had not to punch her. Cause I am not a big person it was just the way I was sitting. People who make dumb remarks like that especially after already crappy service don’t deserve tips. Because what people fail to realize is that tips are an extra something based on your service. Not the damn employers way of getting out of paying there employees a decent actual wage. And regardless whether cheap asses leave you a tip or not, you still get at least min wage either way. Between wages and tips but yes you do have the potential for so much more

    • sally says:

      Melissa a pissy host said that to me once and instead of being embarassed I yelled “NO I’M NOT PREGNANT I’M JUST FAT” and yada yada yada: we got our dinner comped. And on the way out the other patrons, especially the ladies said “good for you, honey!”

    • akak907 says:

      No, you don’t get minimum wage in many states. I made $2.35 an hour in Wisconsin. So if you sit at my table for an hour as my only customer and stiff me, I made $2.35. Then I’d get to subtract from that my tip outs for the busser, bartender, foodrunner, etc. (based on a percentage of what you bought), so now I’m more than likely in the negatives. Always tip. Period. If they were absolutely horrible, then leave 10%, but make sure they don’t go into the negatives. There are not many jobs out there where you’d be ok if the employee actually lost money while working.

    • Chris says:

      No the *uck you don’t. I get paid $2.13 an hour which doesn’t leave me enough to fully pay for state taxes. Last year I owed state $1,000 this year it’s gonna be over. If you think I get something back on federal well if you call $20 something. Servers should get at least $5 hour so taxes can be paid it’s bullshi•.

    • Chris says:

      Agree with you 100% Melissa. akak907 and Chris, if you dont make enough tips to cover minimum wage, the employer has to pay the minimum wage by law. I am sure you probably made equivalent to $20 or $25 an hour and paid only taxes for minimum wage.

  16. LauraZabal says:

    Maryland won’t be happy if restaurants stop automatic gratuity on large parties. In 2012, the state senate passed a bill that imposes a sales and use tax on “…a mandatory gratuity or service charge in the nature of a tip for serving food or any type of beverage to a group of more than 10 individuals….” The sales and use tax rate is 6%. Our POS system automatically adds gratuity if we put in a party of 10+. This is going to be fun…

  17. Brian says:

    Perhaps getting a better command of the use of “effect” versus “affect” could help this author emerge from a career relying on tips.

    • Charlotte says:

      Right, because one simple grammatical error is the difference between serving and a “better” career. Correct spelling and grammar are important for clarity, and they do tend to be marks of higher education, but such a small, common mistake means absolutely nothing about the author. Rather, it means that you, the commenter, are the kind of pompous asshole who dismisses an entire argument solely on the basis of one grammatical error.

      • Brian says:

        Charlotte, the cleverness of my silly quip on the author seems to be lost on you. Of course grammar will not have any bearing on his job as a waiter. But as writer, grammar is essential to the persuasiveness of your argument. This mistake may be common, you say, but not in the world of op-ed writing. Don’t let my pompous assholery keep you from seeing that my point is absolutely well taken. Enjoy your ramen noodles…

  18. Get over it...nobody cares says:

    I can hardly stand dining out anymore. Much of it has to do with some 35 year old server or bartender acting like they are the Britney Spears of the industry. You are annoying and nobody thinks you are cool anymore. Bartending is not a real career. Life isnt like Cocktail and your name isnt Brian Flannigan. I have a great idea. How about lifer servers get real jobs. I waited tables THROUGH COLLEGE, then entered the real world outside the soap opera of the restaurant biz.

    • Get off your pedestal says:

      Aaaand you’re still one of the 300 million Americans who no one gives a shit about.

    • sarah says:

      so if everyone gave up their server jobs to get real jobs who the fuck would serve you food when you went out to eat? if you wanted a drink, a beer after work, who would serve it to you? because bartending isnt a real job? gaurenteed, i make more than you in a day, a week, a year. BONUS with a flexiable schedule so i can travel around the world, live on an island for couple months, buy a house on the water. and go back to bartending when i want. wait, maybe my life is like Cocktail, my names not Brian it is Sarah however…and you are wrong sir.

  19. Gina says:

    This is ridiculous and hilarious all at once. I’ve been a server at restaurants which practiced auto-grat (low to medium scale or chain). I’ve also been a server at higher end and mom/pop restaurants which would never inflict such a bad service practice on their patrons (telling diners exactly how grateful they should be, and telling them – in dollar amounts – exactly how much gratitude they should show to the server, regardless of the quality of service provided by the server). Auto-grat has always been nothing more than a service fee, which has wrongly rewarded bad service and has equalized good and bad service to the detriment of good service and good severs.

    By the way, if after tips, you are earning less than minimum wage (I think it’s currently $7.25 or thereabouts) when combining your hour hourly wage and tips, your employer is legally required to pay the difference. if your employer is not doing this, your employer is breaking the law… and you probably work for a company which specifically solicits servers who don’t/won’t call them out on it (basically, bad servers and uneducated servers).

    • Gina says:

      Here is the link to the federally sanctioned Department of Labor regarding federal minimum wage:

      From the same site, here is a link directly regarding the issues of wages plus tips in regards to an employer “paying up” to make up the difference:

      If you really want to be all, “woe is me! I make less than min. wage when people don’t tip,” that’s fine. You can be like that. But you probably work for an unethical company or don’t serve well. Furthermore, if you as a server make a MINIMUM of $7.25/hour when factoring in wages plus tips, without regard to large party auto-grat, and without factoring in the federally required company pay-up if tips plus salary is less, you’re either a bad server, or you work for a shitty company.

    • kbot89 says:

      Lets be clear…living on $7.25/hour is nearly impossible in this decade of inflated prices. So even with that “compensation” it doesn’t really help much. You may see hmmm I don’t know $5, $10 more on your $0-$100 paycheck which is almost completely devoted to taxes.. Not a real difference maker. Luckily for me I work in a mom-pops place while I am in nursing school, and auto gratuity was never an option, so this does not affect me, but I have been in that situation, and feel bad for the people affected by this new legislation.

  20. Ottavio says:

    im all for the government not taking away the benefits of the working man/woman. that being said I will tell everyone here just like I tell all of my friends and relatives (and ill take the repercussions). waiting is a hard job, few will argue that. I understand completely that waiting on a large party is difficult, but don’t complain to me about paying rent or utilities, I don’t want to hear it. everyone has the same chance to make money despite what you hear about college education or what not. If you don’t make enough money waiting and you don’t like it then make the change in your life. If you enjoy waiting but you don’t make enough money then something needs to be done one way or another. people now are so quick to blame others for their own slights that they don’t look at what they can change themselves. I work two jobs, one of them being third shift waiting. third shift provides good tips and few large parties, that being said when I get the off chance to have a large party I bust my hump to make sure I get a good tip. if I slack and I get stiffed I blame myself…not the government.

  21. slopslinger says:

    Wow Ottavio, sucks to be you, huh?

  22. RoLo says:

    Umm hello “auto grat” on a menu or a receipt was always JUST A SUGGESTION that most people thought was a rule. So if you are a considerate diner you will still always tip accordingly and appropriately to the dining situation.

  23. Andy says:

    Auto-grat shouldn’t be used as a crutch to give crappy service but rather as safety net for the server just in case they aren’t tipped or are tipped severely poorly where it actually costs them money to take the table. Think about that last part for a second, if a non-server job actually had the chance of losing money by helping their customers then wouldn’t that discourage you?

    Serving tables is a small business within a small business: each server has their area where they’re assigned. Anyone that comes into that area they are responsible for and need to make sure they have a great time. Now if that area of a few tables combines into one big table, the size of your section doesn’t change by the layout does. That one table now needs to do the amount of business as possibly four or five tables since they’re combined. If one table out of your five tips poorly then maybe the other four will make up for it. However, if that one big table tips poorly or not at all then it’s as if your entire five table section tips poorly!

    Imagine you’re a car sales person or an insurance sales person and you had one customer all day that kept asking questions and required that you devoted all your attention to them, and then at the end of the day you just leave without buying. Meanwhile your fellow co-workers are busy with new customers coming into the store and buying cars and new policies while you wallow with just this one person. Your sales reflect poorly compared to your colleagues and if you have a weekly/monthly quota then that just took a major hit! I’m not saying everyone who comes to a car dealership or insurance company is required to buy something, but at least the sales people have a wage to fall back on while a server in this same scenario only gets paid a marginal at best wage compared to the others!

    The server has a lot of risk when taking large parties now and I’m not sure it’s worth it. He/She must put all their eggs in one basket and hopes that the table tips accordingly. Most of the time the “sticker shock” at looking at the price of the bill leaves the server’s night at the hands of the check signer. All the sudden the person that said “order whatever you want” feels immediate regret and the server is the one who takes the penalty whether or not they did a below average job or they were stupendous in every detail.

    Would you put your fate into someone else given similar circumstances at your own job?

  24. Heidi says:

    I can’t believe people are actually saying they don’t tip their servers. Even if a server sucks they’re still feeding your lazy ass! If a server sucks they get 15%, if they are average they get 22% and if they are great they get at least 30%. And I’m not rich. I’m just not a tool!

    • Chris says:

      Its not that one should not tip, but it should be optional, depending on the service you got. Auto Gratuity makes it extortion. And your argument about server feeding you is not true. He/She didnt give it you, You are paid for it. What other position gives you 20% TAX FREE commission no matter how sucky your service was.

  25. Mac Grurry says:

    Well, there goes my tips when waiting on my Bruthahs and Sistahs, it’s bad enough that i gotta explain to them there aint no ‘Separate Checks’ no more. Here’s a pen and a calculator, see you in 45 fucking minutes

  26. Reverendjack77 says:

    It’s also illegal for restaurant management to force anyone to tip out support staff.

  27. blg says:

    Not exactly on topic but a funny tactic I used to use – When a table asked for separate checks I would put the both slips in one book. That way they had to show their hand to the other party. (This works especially well for men who like to show off for their buddies.)

  28. Robert says:

    I hate auromatic gratuities. I always leave MORE than that, but if you want to limit yourself, fine by me.

  29. Sandy M. says:

    I lived abroad last year in a very nice, but developing country. Being a waiter was one of the lowest jobs you could get in that country, meaning, the servers had missing teeth, unbrushed hair, ZERO people skills, they were often mildly illiterate and usually had no experience with a service job (or sometimes any job), anyway you get the picture. Service was always slow, you never knew if you would actually get what you ordered or if you’d get your food at all because believe it or not, the waiters often would forget to put your order in…at all. Meaning, you had to remind them to tell the chef what you wanted when your food still hadn’t arrived after 30 minutes.

    Eating at an American restaurant, we are paying that 20% for the service and experience that the waiter provides us. We are paying to have someone with communication skills, brains, experience & people skills take care of us while we eat and they take care of us hand & foot. I would LOVE to see what would happen if all the personable, nice, well-groomed, sharp servers of America quit and incompetent, toothless, shedding mute people took over being the servers. The spoiled American patron would have a HUGE wake up call to exactly why the tip system is really in place and they would BEG all you beautiful (inside & out) servers to come back and would be HAPPY to drop the extra $5-$10 bucks for it.

    I am now even more grateful to tip 20% or more to my servers just so I know Im going to get someone who will remember to bring me my food. People, we seriously don’t know how good we have it here. We are so lucky to get witty, sharp, happy, eye-candy service 90% of the times we eat out. Like it or not, that’s what your 20% is going to. If you don’t want to pay that, move abroad to get a taste of the alternative! Tipping is an American custom that works in the consumers favor, trust me!!

    Good God, people. :-)

    • Chris says:

      Sorry Sandy. Tipping does not work in customers favor, trust me. It only works for the restaurant business and the waiters. Restaurants make money by paying peanuts to staff and waiters make a killing out of the 20%. Imagine for a minute that nobody paid a tip. Do you think all the waiters disappear, absolutely not. The staff will then get a descent wage. The TIP system is an optional system that is getting abused.

      • Sandy M. says:

        Hi Chris!
        I totally agree with you in that ideally restaurants should be the one’s paying the living wage to servers, but this just isn’t the case and likely will not happen anytime soon.

        And I have to stick to my gun on this one- in my humble opinion, the smart, personable, charming servers would certainly disappear. There would still be servers, yes, but they would be of the quality that minimum wage attracts, which is not the same level of service oriented people that $15-$30/hour attracts. Our dining experience would therefore be different. The wait staff of today are there because they make more than minimum wage, they’re worth it and know it. If tipping disappeared and restaurant owners didn’t cover the pay difference, you would see a huge change in the quality of waiters. Think of the people at entry level minimum wage jobs. They’re usually 16 year olds, new immigrants who often barely speak english and retired people who just want to socialize. These would be your new waiters. Sorry, but the fact of the matter is your dining experience would be VERY different than having the hot nursing student who will exchange witty banter and laugh at your dumb jokes because she’s being paid $20/hour to do so.

        And believe it or not, I agree with you in that I do believe that the tip system is getting abused, but it’s so far gone and it just is what it is at this point.

        Bottom line that I go by is: Don’t f*ck with the people who serve you your food. They are pro’s, they’re smart and then can smell a bad tipper a mile away, trust me. Most will just talk sh*t about you and your guests with the rest of the entire staff and shoot bad vibe darts your way. You’re the butt of the joke in the restaurant and don’t even know it. And then there’s the extreme one’s who will do sh*t to your food and drink if you’re rude or if they know you’re reputation as a bad tipper. Or they tell the cook that you suck and the cook doesn’t treat your food as they should. Restaurant staff’s are a team and a family, they work together.

        All in all, treat your server how you would want to be treated if you or someone you loved was in their shoes. If you’re going to eat out, you are (in this moment in time until something changes) responsible to pay your 20% for the service. Thats how the system is set up and being a cheap skate and stiffing your waiter does nothing for your cause and hurts the low man on the totem pole. Tip accordingly and then write the owner saying he should be the one paying the service charge. If enough people do this, things will change.

      • Chris says:


        I would be the first to say everyone, including the wait staff should be paid well, but I do disagree with the disappearance of the friendly waiters, Have you ever been to a pizza buffet restaurant? Cici’s pizza is the best example. Since it is buffet, there are no tips. There is not even a tip jar. but they are the friendliest staff I have met. You can either take the pizza already on the counter or they will make one for you they way you want it and bring it to your table. They have no expectation of a tip and do their job with a smile. Because of that, the place is always busy. The myth of disappearing quality of wait staff is just that, a myth, propagated by the restaurant industry.

        Isn’t messing with your food if you do not pay them a bribe called extortion? Whats wrong with new immagrants as waiters, as long as they are legally allowed to work. They are also trying to make a living. Should we deny them that opportunity because they are not hot and white? Whats wrong with retired people serving. They are always the most warm and friendly people, and their niceness is genuine, not because they are expecting something back. They have a world of wisdom we all should be learning from. I do agree with you about the experience of having a hot nursing student wait and flirt. It will be extremely uncomfortable to everyone on the table and ruins the experience.

        “Tip accordingly and write a note to the owner” will never work, after all why should be paying for his costs. The only way this can change is if the customer puts his foot down and refuse to pay the tip. Yes it will hurt the waiter for that instance, but if he is not getting paid, he will quit and find another job. Then the owner has to run the business and he will pay the wage that should be paid. The Government can also put its foot down and say that there is no exception on wage minimums for restaurants.

    • max says:

      @ Sandy, On the flip-side:

      I live in a developed country where there is no expectation of tipping. The service is still good – sometimes excellent, sometimes fine, rarely bad.

      The servers are paid a decent wage – on the low end but no less than many other jobs – and only if they are exceptional will I leave a small tip (for eg, rounding an amount up to the nearest $5 or $10).

      Unlike in the US, I feel like I am having an honest transaction with the server – if it is a good interaction it is because they want to be nice not because they are hoping to squeeze out of me an extra few percent for a tip.

  30. Chris Gomez says:

    I’m curious. When guests pay with a debit or credit card and sign a receipt and include the tip on the receipt, how do you end up getting the tip? For example, does it end up in your next paycheck? This would really help me understand the context of the new IRS rule. I’d appreciate your advice with your experience with many restaurants.

    • Alexa says:

      Servers don’t use a register that belongs to the restaurant – we literally just carry your cash around. Which is why it can take so long to get change when you give a hundred dollar bill on a small check.

      But I digress.

      At the end of the night you enter your tips, and you are shown what you owe the restaurant. The restaurant already has the money from checks paid with credit cards and the tips on the receipt, but you’re just hanging onto all the cash.

      So, given your sales and what tips you’ve claimed (and we are FORCED to claim at least our credit card tips – and there are times where after tip out I am claiming more than I take home. So yes, we pay taxes.) you pay the restaurant whatever amount is still required to cover everyone’s meals, and keep the rest.

  31. Chris says:

    Oh and to be accurate, Automatic gratuity is not banned. It is just considered as a wage, which means they will be taxed. The waiter will get every single penny of the extortion money, but will have to pay taxes on it just like everyone else. It should have been right from the start and IRS is just getting it right. I don’t know why everyone is so upset. You are not losing anything.

    • Mark says:

      You’re correct, auto gratuity is now considered a wage. Which means that the company will have to report that amount against hourly wages including overtime. They will also have to pay additional payroll taxes on that amount. The company will be obligated to pay increased taxes in the form of unemployment insurance, etc. Why would a company want to pay increased taxes, when all they have to do is discontinue the auto gratuity policy? They wouldn’t, which makes this law the end of auto gratuity.
      The IRS calculated the amount of tips servers received back in the 80’s to be around 8% of sales. That is the amount of tips servers are taxed on. And to be honest, they did a damn good job, because over the long run, 8% pretty much nails it. Ya, some people tip more, and some people less, but it all averages out to 8%. Thats with auto gratuity included. Without auto gratuity in place to offset the non tippers, the average is sure to fall by at least a point or two. This means servers pay will be drastically reduced, but their tax obligation will remain the same. They will have decreased spending power, which will take is toll on local and national economies. The IRS should do a new study to find the actual average without auto gratuity, and adjust tax on tips accordingly.
      I feel tips are gifts and shouldn’t be taxed. Hows that? I get paid my wage from my employer, and I pay taxes on that wage just like everyone else. If a customer wants to give a tip of their own free will, then that should be tax free. Just like in the 70’s and before. If I am obligated to pay tax on gratuity, then gratuity should be included.
      I think thats why everyone is so upset.

    • Chris says:


      I agree with most of what you say but not to the effective tip at the end of the day. Auto gratuity is never less than 18% and very few tip les than 20%. The more important calculation is the effective hourly rate. It comes to approximately $25-$30 an hour. Nothing wrong with that , except they pay taxes only for a third of it. Do you think it is fair that you have to pay taxes for all you make but some pay only for a third they make?

      If the customer pays with their own will, it is STILL tax free. The auto gratuity should be taxed.

  32. Graci says:

    My dad is a server and he has never gotten automatic gratuity for huge parties and he has done just fine, earning nearly $200.00 each night. If you’re a good server you have nothing to worry about. I made the mistake of going to a restaurant in a huge party and our servers were the worst ever and I made sure that the manager knew that they didn’t even deserve the automatic 18%. They ignored us most of the night but still made over $50.00 off us, which wasn’t right. Now, instead of getting a free ride, you actually have to work! I work hard for my money, why shouldn’t you?! Don’t like how it is now? Get a different job or man up!!

  33. amber says:

    So if they are getting rid of our supplemental grat, does that mean they are going to raise or hourly rate? Because $2.65 isn’t enough for everything I do

    • Chris says:

      Amber, you are worth more than that and must demand it. if everyone does, it will happen, because restaurants will not work without wait staff.

  34. Fiano says:

    In my state, credit card “tips” and “gratuities” are legally different. A tip is what the guest writes in on the credit card slip and that belongs 100% to the server (who can then be required to tip out a “reasonable ” amount to support staff). A gratuity is an auto grat that legally belongs to the establishment. Two waiters could work a large party who pays an auto grat of $300 and only receive $85 each and that’s perfectly legal as long as they are making at least minimum wage.
    Anyone know what’ll happen in this scenario with the new law?

  35. Beth says:

    My restaurant has never done automatic gratuity unless the party specifically asked for it. So basically, I always just take my chances with big parties. I’ve even served a party of about 60 people (with another 2 servers) without automatic gratuity, and you spend the whole damn time praying…

  36. Kam says:

    Look at the President I am sure he tips like shit. So he Strong Handed the IRS. Because his people don’t tip

  37. Donald says:

    You all are missing the point. America is poorer now and it going to get worse. We need smaller government and our money back. And my Health insurance have been cancelled. How can I know pay $303 a month with a 5000.00 deductible with less income

  38. Sophia says:

    I’ve been a part time server for 3+ years now, while being fully enrolled in college. This is the only restaurant where I have served at, and I really do enjoy it (most of the time). The staff and coworkers are awesome, the money is good, and they are also flexible with my schedule due to being in school.
    Now getting to the point.. The manager on duty told a coworker and I that we were taking a party of 30+ at 8pm. Okay cool. However, by the time everyone finally shows up, it’s already 10. Still no biggie. All of the drinks were always refilled and all of the food came out in a timely manner. We had many complements from the patrons to which we waited. Well since we can no longer grat large parties, we ended up with $11 each on a bill of $450. $14 of which went to the bar, leaving us with $4 each. Not to mention it’s a Saturday night and we were slammed, but had to reserve our stations for this party. Now I’ve seen shitty tips, it happens, but how shitty can you get?! -__-

  39. Dan says:

    I am a restaurant GM, and when this went into effect we developed a spreadsheet to separately track all auto grats for each server. Is it a pain? Yes, sometimes. But we felt it was necessary to ensure the servers were compensated fairly. If your restaurant is thinking of eliminating auto grats, encourage them not to. Once its put into place it is not that hard to track them.

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  41. Christopher says:

    I work at anjelos steak pit in Panama City beach.
    so it’s just like you said 3 days ago they had all the hostess staff get black sharpies and go to work on the menus which haven’t changed in Idk how long. I am still in disbelief about all the things the government has their hands in. It’s our money we earn. Let them come wait on a few cheap ass people For one night they’ll switch it back. Lol

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  44. D says:

    Im sick of the tipping business. Why do we go out to eat any more? To be judged by jerks who expect us to pay their wages??! No one tips me and I bust my behind trying to figure out peoples problems all day. At my second job (retail-min wage) no one tips me for spending half an hour helping them pick out selections. Do I get 20% of your purchase?! I’ll let the employer pay me $2.35 if I know I’ll get 10-20% on a purchase!
    You bring a $10 burger to the table and you expect at least $2. You bring a $100 lobster to the table and expect $20 for the walk. It’s a ridiculous system and if we have to deal with it, restaurants need to just add it to the menu and pay their workers. Or just autograt the whole thing. No more hiding money from the IRS. They’ll know exactly what you’re paid. 18% of every sale or whatever. No more crying over “cheap” tippers either. They just wont order more than they can afford. Win-win for everyone!
    and Do you realize not everyone can tip well? They’re not tipped like you at their jobs. Just sick of it all. We really should just stop dining out already to get the point across.
    I pay my 20%. My boyfriend does 25%. So we tip. I just wish it would be across the board already.

  45. Zack says:

    I do not like the banishment of the auto grat. I agree it was there for a reason. There is a way to get it back but it requires something us restaurant people lack, follow through. The way to get it back is to vote. If every restaurant employee that is tipped sent an email to ALL of their elected officials (Yes all of them. That means 5 people.) telling them you will vote for their opponent in either the primary or the general election, that law would be repealed. At first the politicians will not do anything, until the first of them start losing elections. That “word” will spread like wildfire. That is how the AARP, NRA and other organizations that are seen as powerful get their power. When they threaten to vote them out the politicians take it seriously or they are soon out of a job. You have a site here that can communicate to us in the Biz…use your power to make the changes we all complain about.

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  48. Pissed off mom of a server says:

    Hey, thanks Mr. wonderful president and to all of you idiots that voted for him. That “change” is working out great for this country, isn’t it? Thanks so much for having the lower to middle class income family’s best interests in mind you idiot dems.

  49. Fuckin Whiners says:

    You servers are a real piece of work. If the pay and work conditions are so bad. Get a real job that pays you what you feel your worth. If you choose not to or cant, too bad for you. I don’t feel you deserve any tips. what do you? Pick up a plate and take it to a table. Yeah skilled labor. When was the last time you tipped someone who really worked for a living. The local AAA tow driver makes less then minimum wage. Are you tipping that guy who risked his ass on the freeway cause your dumb ass was too drunk to put gas. Or how about the cable guy who has to crawl under your house through the pet cemetery, so you have TV. Probably not. Every time my wife and go out to dinner and she wants to leave a tip. I calculate how much she wanted to leave and I stop by a local liquor store a give it to a bum. Same shit, a begger, but at least he/she doesn’t expect it from me. And I get my windows washed.

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