By now, we have all heard about New Jersey waitress Jess Jones who was stiffed on a $112 check because the customer said they waited an hour for the food. Not only did they stiff her, they were one of those smug assholes who decided to write a little note in the tip line too. “LOL,” they wrote, justifying the lack of tip by citing the extraordinary wait time for their dinner. “Even though they did wait an hour to eat, they remained satisfied with filled drinks and proper notice that the kitchen was a bit busier than normal. I’ve worked in the service industry for five years and I take pride in providing great service to my customers,” said Jess.
We are all used to the occasional shitty tip and taking the blame for things that are out of our control. If the kitchen is slammed and food times are through the roof, it’s the servers who pay the price. If a burger is overcooked and a customer is upset by that, the cook who burned that burger isn’t going to see some money come out of his paycheck, but the waiter might get less of a tip for it. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. Conversely, when the food is wonderful and comes out quickly and is exactly as the customer wants it, the cook doesn’t get extra cash in his paycheck while the server might benefit. It’s the way of the restaurant world.
The photo of Jess’s tip has gone viral and lots of people have written about. I wasn’t going to until I saw an article about it called “Tipping is a Choice, Not an Obligation.” It first appeared to me via a Facebook page called PuckerMob which led me to the article on their website. It was written by Jay Miletsky who, although he says he worked as a waiter during college, seems to have forgotten the importance of tips. “Our society has become so entitled that it’s now completely beyond comprehension that tipping is not a requirement and should never be expected,” he writes.
No, it’s not a requirement and we all know that. The issue lies with the fact that this customer chose to not tip because of something that had nothing to do with the server who communicated to the table that things were a bit slow. She did the best that she could under less than ideal circumstances and rather than leave less of a tip, the customer chose to leave nothing at all. Again, it’s not the law to leave a tip, but it is part of our social contract that you do it. It’s part of the same contract that we all try to agree upon in order to be nice people. There is no law that requires you to offer your seat on the train to a pregnant woman, but most people do it because it’s the right thing to do. It is not required that you pitch in a few bucks to buy a gift for one of your coworkers who is leaving, but most of us do it, because it’s nice. The world we live in is full of these social and moral obligations that we uphold and tipping at a restaurant is one of them.
Mr. Milestky writes that “It’s (tipping) not mandatory. Whatever is left should be appreciated, not expected. And if nothing is left, it’s not the ‘scorned’ food service employee’s place to berate, attack, or publicly humiliate the customer.” I’m sure Jess would have appreciated anything that was left but since she had nothing to appreciate, I guess she did the one thing that will make her feel better about working for absolutely nothing: she expressed her dissatisfaction on social media. And before someone jumps in to remind us that servers make a salary, let me remind you that the hourly wage for servers in New Jersey is $2.13 so you bet your ass that Jess depends on tips and it’s no wonder she was upset enough to take a picture and blast it out on Facebook.
Until this country agrees to do away with tipping and have restaurants pay servers a real hourly wage, this is what you do when you go out to eat: you tip. I’m not saying that every server deserves a 20% tip; you tip based on the service that you received. If your waiter or waitress did everything that was necessary for you to have a nice dining experience, tip them well. If the server was rude to you, ignored you, fucked everything up and then didn’t try to fix it, sure leave a crappy tip, they earned it. But when you’re disappointed with something that happened in the restaurant and it had nothing to do with the person who took your order, leave a fucking tip. No, it might not be a requirement and you didn’t sign a contract saying you would do it, but if you want to fit in with the majority of the people who live in this world you have to accept it. And if you’re not willing to leave a tip then you have to be willing to accept that an upset waitress from New Jersey might take a picture of your credit card slip and show the world what a cheap asshole you are.
Here is PuckerMob’s Facebook page. Tell ’em I said hello and that you don’t agree with Jay Milestky.