Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Christians and Tipping. Part 1 . . .

Why don't some people tip? Tipping (as in giving a waiter/waitress a gratuity) is an important topic for me. As a part time waiter, tips are a crucial part of my income. In the business we refer to not getting a tip as "getting stiffed." Being stiffed is extremely painful. There are also derivatives of the stiff, one that is considered quite evil is to leave less then a dollar in change. Also painful is the credit card slip where the bill amount is $59.96 and your guest rounds it up to $60 (and actually writes $0.04 in the tip line. I saw this happen to a fellow server not too long ago and let me tell you it's not pretty. I think the poor girl was devastated for several days. Even worse though is the stiff that is done primarily by Christians. I am of course talking about the "leaving a tract as the tip." If you like the thought of your server screaming, cursing, and swearing off church forever, please do this. I have seen these tracts torn to pieces, shown to other servers (accompanied by words that cannot be typed here), or posted up on the staff bulletin board (along with a note explaining what happened) so that everyone can know how ignorant Christians can be. Ouch.

I'll tell you right now; servers for the most part don’t look upon Christians kindly. Maybe its unfair but Christians are stereotyped as cheap, rude, cheap, ignorant, cheap, demanding, and (dare I say it?) . . . weird. They have a penchant for ordering water with lemon. They work you really, really hard (and then don't tip accordingly). This stereotype is almost universal. As a fellow Christian, even I don't usually see it as a good sign if I see my table pray before a meal; and I'm a Christ-follower myself! I'm honestly surprised if a Christian table has fun, treats me well, and tips generously. Though I do run into this kind of table it is not that often. Sunday lunch shifts are almost impossible to give away. Nobody, and I mean nobody wants to work them (mostly because that's when the Christians come out in droves).

I think that the absolute worst thing that a Christian can do if they want to shine for Christ at a restaurant is not be generous with your server. I admit that I am biased. Why would someone not tip? What is your reaction to this?

May Light increase!


Elayne said...

It sickens me to know this happens all the time and that Christians need to be educated about this. Maybe it's just tiime that restaurants raise their prices to include tipping and pay their servers the way they deserve to be paid!
Since that will probably never happen, how could we get this word out to the Christians out there? In my church, we have been instructed from the pulpit to be generous in our tipping ESPECIALLY Sunday lunch! Maybe churches need a letter much like your post today!?

Rayna said...

I know with myself having been a server in the past, I always try to tip generously. Michael makes me fill out the tip spot so that they get a good one! :) Unless the person did absolutely nothing or are rude/unhelpful and it was not busy in the restaurant, in which case I think that they didn't really deserve a big tip from me (I do still tip, though not much) and this is going on the fact that there were a few days when I was serving when I really didn't feel I deserved a tip from some tables.
As for the tract thing - who actually thinks a person would want that over money? Look at it from the perspective of the person you are trying to witness to, wouldn't how you acted towards them and in the restaurant and a generous tip go farther than a tract? The quote "Preach the gospel at all times, if neccessary use words" comes to my mind and I think that "words" includes written as well as verbal.

Anonymous said...

It drives me crazy when people don't tip. I am a firm believer in tipping well. I agree with Elayne - a letter should be sent to every church stating the reactions of staff to tracts left in place of a tip. That's the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard!!!! It's no wonder people feel out of sorts around Christians when these are the kinds of things that they are doing.

As a matter of fact, I think I will point my pastor in the direction of your blog. Perhaps he could use that in one of his sermons - Ha!!!!!

Chat with ya later!

Jay Boaz said...

Obviously I have an opinion on this Mark. :)

People don't realize it, but Mark's totally right, people will do almost anything to get out of working Sunday lunchtime because the "Church crowd" comes in. I took a 2nd job when I was a server because that's the only way to get out of having to work Sunday's at lunch because NOBODY wants to do it!

Now, for those of you that don't like tipping, the tip is only part of the issue. If a server has a good experience serving your table, meaning in most cases that you are simply polite and nice, they don't actually mind if a tip isn't that big. Being a bright spot in the day can be just as important.

So this is what gets me. Even if Christians didn't start tipping highly, the simple act of being nice and non-demanding would be HUGE in changing the perception of us in the eyes of the restaurant industry. I'm not saying you can't ask for what you want, but many people on Sunday's WORK their server extremely hard, when simply asking for everything at once would make things so much easier.

I've been tempted to see if I can go up front one day at Church and see if I can do a small speak on ministering to the restaurant industry. Maybe we should do a cross-city Church tour Mark. :)

Oh, and on the leaving a tract thing, I actually had a table once start trying to minister to me while I was dropping something of for their server, and quite frankly, the way they went about it completely weirded me out, and I'm a Christian! I shudder to think what their server thought. :)

Jay Boaz

Dayna said...

good post, mark! i've heard your feelings on this before, but it sure was a good reminder!

Michael said...

I'm not sure what to think here Mark. Today I went for a haircut, not to a fancy hair salon, where I get pampered, etc. But to a blue colar place where I know the price is low. In fact, I brought a coupon with me, and asked before I got into the hair chair if the establishement would honor the coupon (it was from a chain). This particular chain won't allow you to make appointments. You have to show up, put your name on a list, sit down and wait for your turn. Today I was told that that wait would be 20 minutes. I waited for 40.

My entire purpose for being at that place, on this day, was to try to save a few dollars. Time is valuable to me, but so is money. I waited 40 minutes for a 15 minute haircut.

Yeah, yeah, everyone in Calgary is suposed to be dripping in cash, but it is very very expensive to live here, and I am trying to support an entire family, etc.

I got my haircut, made small talk with the hair dresser and even brought some product (guys, ask a girl what that means) before I left. I used my Interac card, and was suddenly confronted with the "Would you like to leave a tip" question... kindly built right into the pad. I, as a matter of principle, pressed "no." Why? Because I am cheap? (perhaps), becuase I didn't like my service? (no), but simply becuase I work just as hard for my money as someone else, and this particular chain of hair salons caters to people who don't want to spend extra money on their hair... so with that in mind, why should I tip? Why should I even be asked if I want to tip?

Now, if I was flush with cash, I probably would go to another place, pay $50.00 for a haircut, buy $75.00 of product (guys, ask your lady what that is) and drop $20.00 for a tip, becuase I could afford to.

So, where do you draw the line in the resaurant industry? There are some retaruants that I go to where I expect to tip well, but I also expect exceptional service, and a first class menu. It's a celebration, a night out, etc, and I walk in with certain expectations, etc. and I expect to tip. But there are other nights, where I just want some food quick... where do you draw the line? I am not expected to tip at fast food restaurants am I? So, do I guage the amount of my tip baseed on the quality of the restuaruant? After all, the restaurant exists to serve my needs, and if my needs are to eat, but save money doing it, should I be expected to tip? Or should I be insulted at the idea?

And no Mark, Olive Garden doesn't fall into my category of cheap restaurants. I'd tip well
a. becuause their high standards of customer service deserve it.
b. becuase it's the sort of place where it is expected and
c. If I can afford to eat there, I can afford a tip... but where do you draw the line?

Food for thought.


Mark said...

Mike: Thanks for you honesty and counterpoint (I was hoping someone would explore the opposite side). I'm honestly not sure about tipping hairdressers, I usually do but I think that's because I'm unsure about it. And I only do it if I like the cut (thought lets be honest, I have no real idea if my hair looks decent or not - such things are not my gift). Maybe someone more familiar with the etiquette of haircutting can help us out. I suppose that if everyone tips hairstylists and you don't then it would be similar to waitering, right (ignoring a cultural expectation)? I think your point about where to draw the line is a good one. For instance, when I googled "why I don't tip" most of the hits were about tipping people at coffee shops. Where do we draw the line? I'm wondering if the line is here; if most people tip a certain person, A Christian will do harm to the faith if they are part of the minority who don't. Maybe I'd better think about this one. In the meantime, I'm curious what you mean by "on principle."

Michael said...

Mark, I'm sorry to bring this up but you said "I have no real idea if my hair looks decent or not - such things are not my gift"

Remember when Woodsy called you Swirly in college becuase your hair looked like you stuck your head in the toilet and flushed it.

Which reminds me of the book called "Why to Christians shoot their wouned?!"


Michael said...

Regarding "matter of principle" comment.

I seldom tip for haircuts, due to the reasons stated above. And being a wee bit stuborn (I'm Irish and it is St. Paddy's day!) I find that the Interac request makes me want to tip less.

Mark said...

Mike: "Swirly," I had forgotten about that. Such reminders will not be forgotten. I think Ryan was jealous of my hair actually (and probably stil is).

Let's change the subject (please); regarding the tipping thing are you saying then your principle is you don't tip hairdressers if you are going to a place that caters to people who don't want to spend much? And what is it about the asking for a tip on interac didn't you like? Was it the unexpectedness of it or maybe the pressure that it put on you?

Michael said...

I don't like it because it removed my freedom of choice. It's kind of like someone standing by the door with a hat in their hand and if you walk by they "polietly" cough to remind you that you should give them some money.
I find the "Tip" reminder in the Interac rude and insulting. It's a form of pressure.

Hey Mark, remember what Cordell used to call you? Swirly isn't so bad after all.