On Tipping

If this is your attitude, learn to cook.

The United States is one of the only countries where food servers, bartenders, delivery drivers, bussers, and hosts/hostesses are paid below the standard minimum wage. Tipped minimum wages vary by state but are as low as $2.13/hour, in contrast with the federal minimum wage for non-tipped employees, $7.25/hour.

Many people oppose this system, often with good reason. But some who oppose simply resent having to compensate restaurant workers. These are the people represented by Mr. Pink’s anti-tipping statements in Reservoir Dogs.


I don’t tip because society says I have to. All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I’ll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it’s for the birds. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just doing their job.

Like real world examples, Mr. Pink didn’t abstain from dining in restaurants where servers rely on tips. Nor did he warn his waitress at the beginning that he would not pay her for doing her job. The Mr. Pinks of the world are knowingly exploiting the labor of tipped employees because they can.

I think the tipped minimum wage should be abolished, and the regular minimum wage raised. But until that should come to pass, I have three ethical options. I can refuse to eat out. I can eat only at places where staff make at least minimum wage. Or I can tip my servers the fair wage they are due.

I cannot ethically protest the exploitation of tipped workers by exploiting them myself. If you’re one of the Mr. Pinks of this country, at least do your server the courtesy of being honest. Tell them from the start that you’re a cheap miser who feels entitled to their free labor. Don’t trick them into giving you a level of service you refuse to pay for.

One thought on “On Tipping

  1. I didn’t know that it was legal to pay workers below minimum wage in a job where they are expected to receive tips. I always thought of tips as being like a bonus, not something that you actually NEED in order to make a living from your work. Actually I spoke to a striptease artist once(in New Zealand) about tipping and she told me that the dancers at her club were quite dependent on tips. That they weren’t earning enough to live on, without tips. It sounds as though employers are saying “Well I would pay you enough to live on, but you don’t need it cause you’re getting tips so I’m not going to pay you more than you need”. It all sounds like a cost cutting trick. A boss relying on the customers to pay for their labor. I suppose this must be reflected in the prices. If the boss isn’t charging much for food, chances are they’re not paying their workers very much.


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