Tipping Tales

“We hate waiting on Christians, for they tip so poorly.”

It was last Saturday as I sat in a restaurant where the meal for several of us had been paid by someone else, that I had asked about the tip, and that the ensuing conversation had included the retelling of that sad comment.

“Was the tip included for our meals?” I asked as we finished eating.

No one seemed to know immediately, but after they asked around the message was returned, “No, the tip was not included. We need to leave some.”

We had occupied a fairly large area in the restaurant, some of the others had already left, and my friend and I were concerned that perhaps many people thought the tip had been included, when indeed it hadn’t. We came up with more money from our wallets until we felt sure adequate money had been left for our group.

” We feel really strongly about tipping well,” one of the women said. “We teach in our church that one should always leave 15 percent regardless of the quality of the service. We think of our testimony in the town, and what our generosity–or lack of–says about our church and about Christians in general.”

She went on to tell of an occasion where her husband had left a $45.00 tip for a modest bill. On accepting the money the waitress had begun to cry, saying, “Thank you. Thank you. I didn’t have money to buy milk for my baby tonight.”

Someone else told of a waitress who said, “We hate waiting on Christians, for they tip so poorly.”

While reading around this morning, I came across this story of a waitress receiving a very large tip. You will probably want to watch this moving video as she tells of her reaction to this exciting unexpected gesture.

Jerry had an interesting experience the other day when we went into the new Golden Corral here in Lake Havasu, and the cashier asked as he paid his bill prior to having eaten, “Would you like me to add 15% for the waitress?” (The Golden Corral is a buffet style restaurant, where you get your own food. The waitress does refill drinks, and takes hot rolls to the tables.)

How do you feel about tipping? Do we tip enough? Does it continue to be an added amount of money given because of good service, or is it just an expected gesture, regardless of the attentiveness of the waitress?What about tipping in hotel rooms? How much do you usually leave?

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My devotional blog is here.

16 thoughts on “Tipping Tales

  1. Pingback: Court Orders Starbucks to Pay One Million Dollars « Shirley Buxton

  2. Dan

    Tipping.

    I’ve never worked in a restaurant, but I do know that servers are not paid minimum wage — not even close…something around $3.25 an hour (ballpark). They are expected to basically work for tips as one can imagine after taxes, $3.25 doesn’t go very far (and if they’re honest, they pay taxes on their tips as well).

    So, the artist who works in France, I’m SURE doesn’t sell his goods that would pay him $3.25 an hour…so he can afford to go the extra mile without additional pay as that is already worked into the sales price. Servers are at the mercy of those they serve.

    The tip for servers is about putting food on their own tables, feeding their children, paying their bills. And if you don’t believe servers are worthy of tips, then I personally believe you shouldn’t go out to eat at a restaurant where you are served and a tip is part of the wages.

    Also, keep in mind, some times servers have to “share” their tips with other workers, so they’re not benefiting 100 percent from your tip.

    And finally, as a Christian, I generally leave a tip of about 20 percent. No, I don’t eat out at high-end places (and if you can afford to do so, you can also afford to leave a generous tip), but I believe it’s vital to leave a server thinking positive thoughts of our visits and whatever Christian witness we may have had…instead of going back into the kitchen and letting off steam about the “cheap, stingy, hypocritical ‘Christian’ people” she just had to serve. I mean, who can blame anyone from wanting to avoid people like that?

    By the way, if you receive bad service, I wonder if you would ask the server if “everything is okay?” and really mean the question, if that wouldn’t help? I mean, we’re all human…could the server just have learned his home is about to be repossessed? Or maybe her mother has cancer? Or maybe three other servers called in sick and she’s having to running herself raged trying to cover four sections? Yes, some times we just get a person with a chip on their shoulder, but more often than not, bad service has something more behind it than the server WANTING to treat you poorly.

    Hello, Dan. Thanks for being here and for your comments. I agree with every word.

    I am especially taken with your last paragraph. What a kind and thoughtful suggestion….thought provoking.

    Be blessed.

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  3. Ah! Interesting topic with lots of equally interesting comments. I have worked in three different industries where tipping was part of my income. I had a paper route for a few years starting when I was eleven. I then was a flower delivery person. Finally, a waitress. Although I was very good at all three, I found the tips to often be lacking.

    Sad, but true! Christians are among the groups that we found to be poor tippers at the restaurant where I worked. As a Christian, I was often slightly affronted, when, after giving exemplary service, I was left a tract and a penurious tip by many Christian people. I was especially horrified for non-Christians who received the same. Worse yet, when I would go out with my Christian friends I often found myself stuck with FAR more than my fare share of the bill in addition to the tip because I would leave last in order to make sure that our area wasn’t a gigantic mess and that the waitress had been appropriately tipped.

    Because of my experience, I am a generous tipper. I have a few thoughts on tipping:

    – If you use a coupon, please tip on the original cost of the meal, not on the adjusted cost. The waitress had to deliver all the food, so please tip accordingly.

    – If you found the service to be lacking and don’t think the full tip is deserved, in a kind way let your waitress know why.

    – If the food is lacking, ask to speak to a manager, or the cook/chef. Something will usually be done to try to make ammends. Don’t punish the waitress for something out of his/her control.

    – A tract is not a tip.

    – If you want to make someone’s day, then tip the small guy who delivers you things! (I always have a few ones at the ready in case I need them for tipping).

    – If your restaurant service is lacking in nothing and few bucks is not a strain on your budget, then overtip. Help make up for those who tip poorly.

    – If you have a good experience at a restaurant and with a particular server, ask to be seated in his/her section on subsequent visits. There’s nothing like being a regular and having regular customers. You’ll get the best service possible, especially if you tip well! That’s a waitress who you can develop a relationship with and, if you are a Chrisitan who wants to share the gospel, you’ll have a waitress who just might want to know more about why you are so kind and generous…

    Thanks for another excellent forum, Shirley!

    Hi, Linda. It’s such a joy when you come this way, and not only read, but add your comments, for they are always well-considered and full of substance.

    Thank you for the reminder about tipping for meals purchased or discounted with a coupon. I really think sometimes people tip inappropriately because they just have not thought about it fully.

    Hope all is well with you. I’m going to bounce over to your site now.

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  4. Esther

    I agree that this is a topic that many have opinions about. To be truthful I don’t like to tip. But, we always tip regardless. Usually 20%. However when the service is not up to standard it really bothers me to tip. We do anyway, don’t get me wrong. My feelings are that the employer needs to pay their emplorees a decent wage so people would not feel obligated to tip. Then they can tip according to service.
    When Mike was alive, we usually went out to eat with him, Jennifer and their 5 very active kids. Mike always over tipped because he knew the kids always left a mess. Restaurants knew him and always gave special attention to us. I resent places like Starbucks and other drive-through places putting their jars out for tips. Sorry but I never leave tips at those places.
    By the way everybody, it SNOWED here in Souther Mississippi yesterday. It was beautiful. I just had to let you know because we have never lived in the snow. Bill videoed and I took pics. Okay, enough said. Love ya……
    P.S. Wondering is the Merv who comments on Sis. Buxton’s blog is Mervin Frost? If so, Hi Mervin. You and I were the whole graduation class from hischool. Remember?

    Esther, check today’s (Sunday January 20th.) post. I used your snow report for a column. Thank you.

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  5. My what a topic we have this morning! We have always been taught to leave a tip. I also teach our young people to leave a tip as it is another way to witness. I know that because of the strong loobby in DC that eating establishments get by with paying very little to their waitresses. How can you make ends meet on $10 an hour let alone $2.13 or $5.85. A lot of people don’t tip at all. I have had several young people that have worked as wait staff and I don’t know how they made it. So we always tip 15% to 25%. Because of this we have had favor shown to us by eating establishments in our area. To the point that a very popular pizza joint asks our church to turn in our receipts from them every 3 months and they write the church a check for 10%. This is used for various needs at the church sound eqiupment etc.. . The manager has been to church several times. Yes! Tipping is a witness! Tipping can lead to good relationships.

    Kevin, as you and I communicate more, I’m definitely coming to the conclusion that your church is very blessed to have you working with its young people. What an awesome task…what an awesome opportunity. Keep it up!

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  6. My son-in-law has posted about this before agreeing Christians are poor tippers and it is a witness or lack of.

    Over the years we have grown close to some of the waiters at various places, asking for them when we return for a meal. Virgil always looks at their name tag and calls them by name. We even been invitited to weddings and always hearing about what’s going on. Just by asking questions we become engaged with their lives, Virgil often ask how we can pray for them and has even stopped right then and prayed. One thing is necessary (a tip) but love given out and concern for another is even more needed. As we go we have a physical hunger but most of these have a spiritual hunger and by watching for a divine appointment it will bring glory to the God we serve.

    Good evening, Loys. Good to hear from you again. I agree that it is in our everyday activities that we have our best chance of witnessing to people about Jesus. God help us not to spoil these great opportunities. I trust your work continues to be blessed.

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  7. Tipping My, My what a topic.

    Having lived in Bakersfield, Ca for many years and having numerous acquaintances as waiters and waitress. I have had many conversations about this topic.

    Yes, they all have the same option of Christian people, “They are poor tippers!” This has made me very sad over they years. NO they really do not look forward to working during our meetings. Not only in Bakersfield, but one year the wife and I made several trips into the same restaurant and got the same waitress. As we talked I asked her about how those Pentecostal people tipped, “Poor to Bad.” was her reply.
    I’ll one step farther. Should you read much by Chuck Swindoll, in several of his books and some articles I have read by him. He also comments about the poor tipping practices of Christians.

    Now to bring a personal comment into this line of thought. In my very early childhood, I know that my mother waited tables in some upscale restaurants. These ladies depend a large amount on tips, because they are paid minimum wage, the exception would the larger upscale restaurants.

    A tip is so easy to compute take the amount in tax times two and then add a little for good service.

    What dose TIPS mean??

    To Insure Prompt Service.

    Mervi

    Good evening, Mervi. Well it seems that all of us have heard reports of poor tipping by Christians. Let’s keep spreading the word to leave lots of money for the sweet people who tend us in restaurants.

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  8. Your blogs ALWAYS make me think… (and of course that is why I always return) … I always tip. I just tip a whole lot better when I receive good service. I don’t ever complain, if the service is that poor, I just won’t go back. I am not the kind of person who likes to bring any attention to myself, and neither is my husband. However, I like to leave BIG tips when I appreciate good service. I am always saddened when I am out with friends (from church or otherwise) and they leave the table a huge mess (from kids throwing food and such on the floor). I know we represent God and don’t want to leave a bad impression. Good topic.

    Hello, dear Rochelle. You think when you come here because you are a thinker. 🙂 I do appreciate your taking time to read my little columns…and to comment on them. It means a lot, for I know you are quite busy.

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  9. Hey Shirley,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and I just wanted to say what a great post! I think tipping for waitresses/waiters who make less than minimum wage is so essential for them so yes, 15% or more if we have it. And what a great story in the video! Thanks for sharing it and God’s blessings! ~Jen

    Hi, Jen. Glad you’re here and hope you return often.

    Isn’t that the neatest story. Wish I had been there to see the face of the waitress when she saw that great tip.

    Be blessed always

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  10. You might want to visit the site I have visited below. My understanding is that waiters/waitresses do not even make the minimum wage because everyone perceives their earnings are derived from tips. We used to have a 24 hr. cafe in our town and the waitresses would talk to us about this situation. The girls who worked the night shift never made enough tips to equal minimum wage yet, at the end of the year, she would be charged taxes for what the government expected she would make even though she did not make that amount.

    My husband and I always give a 20% tip of the total bill. If the service is less than expected, we will only give 15% and that is rarely. We do eat out often and are recognized at the many restaurants we frequent in our area. Because of our generosity, we are seated quickly, often are given free appetizers from the management, and our service is most often excellent. If we have something that needs to be corrected, we tell the waitress quietly and apologize for bringing it to her attention. They correct it immediately. Our good tipping has benefits. (Even though I believe they should give superior service regardless.)

    We have heard of waitresses complaining about Christians, too. We had a girl who used to waitress on Sundays and she hated waiting on the “church people.” She said they were rude and rarely left tips. Brian teaches our church if you don’t have enough money to tip, don’t go out or go to fast food.

    Now on the other hand, I get exasperated when I go through a Starbucks drive through and they have a tip can sitting out. I don’t think I need to tip when I have to walk to a counter, pay, and carry my purchase. I did the work, not them. We never go to buffets, but if we did, we would prob leave a 10% tip for the served drinks, and other small items the waitress provides. Plus her service for cleaning the table.

    http://www.dol.gov/wb/faq26.htm
    Question: Is it legal for waiters and waitresses to be paid below the minimum wage?

    Answer: An employer may credit a portion of a tipped employee’s tips against the federal minimum wage of $5.85 per hour effective July 24, 2007. An employer must pay at least $2.13 per hour. However, if an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s wage of $2.13 per hour do not equal the hourly minimum wage, the employer is required to make up the difference.

    This may explain why some restaurants have multiple bring things to your table and all tips are put into one pot then divided. That way, the manager can know if their tips guaranteed them minimum wage or not.

    As for hotels, airports, etc. We usually tip $2.00 a bag. Most of the time, we carry our own.

    Hi, Jana. Thank you for the link and for your good remarks. I share your distaste for those little tip bottles at Starbucks and the like where no service is actually given…well, I guess they mix the drinks etc. but at some point we must consider the money we’re paying for the product, and expect that it’s enough.

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  11. I agree, tipping is part of witnessing. We go out often (on Sunday with all our kids) and I don’t believe either in leaving a mess even when its’ at Carl’s Jr. That too is a witness.
    I’m getting one of those cards like Sis Carol – most times I probably go way over! But how can we leave a church invite and not a good tip? I tip everywhere I can!
    I writing this backwards, but yes I’ve heard comment about hating to wait on Christians. That ought not to be. My parents did no attend any church, they tipped generously – that was my example.

    If I were not going to leave a generous tip, I certainly would not leave a church card. Embarrassing.

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  12. Tipping is a way of saying thank you for your services. People want to be appreciated. I don’t directly pay them to do their job, their employer does for me. I pay them directly as a gesture of thanks. I send thank you cards the same way… although the service may not always be great, I still try to show my thanks. I agree with the comments above… that it is a witness and appreciation is appreciated. We tip 15% and if its visa checkcard, we often round it up to the dollar. I have started tipping other places as well where I am waited on and not only is it a good witness, people remember me and often I’m returned with the same or better service next time.

    Von de Leigh, that “tipping is a way of saying thank you” is a good way to address this subject, and for the most part, as you have pointed out, it does “pay for itself” by eliciting better service.

    And surely people do want to be appreciated. That’s an important thing to remember in church work: even if it is just a spoken word privately or from the pulpit, to let a person know their work or their attitude or their commitment has been noted and is appreciated goes a long ways toward creating a positive church environment.

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  13. I have been taught and agree with Karen that tipping is part of our witnessing. I went to a Christian college, and nearby, there was a Denny’s restaurant. My husband worked there for a while, and our college had a bad name there, because there were some students that would go in and not only leave a big mess at the table, but they would do senseless things like put 2 quarters in a glass of water, put a flat plate on top of the glass and then turn it over. That was the tip for the waitress. Fortunately, this problem was addressed and the rude behavior stopped. In my purse, I have a “tipping calculator”. It’s just laminated cardstock with numbers on it to help you figure either a 15 or 20% tip on your bill. If I don’t feel like doing the math, I pull it out and use it.

    Carol, I have seen young people engage in such shenanigans as you have described. Though not at all excusing the rude behavior of the students, it is to be hoped that waitresses look at young people in a more tolerant way than they do we adults.

    Speaking of tipping guides, I have been in restaurants where they had such material available–either on the check or posted somewhere.

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  14. Tipping should be automatically factored into the cost of the meal at 15 percent or more (no matter the service). Hotel service tips are normally a fixed amount, depending on the hotel services, the amount varies. Sis Buxton, I too have had waitresses or restaurant managers say that many Christians do not leave tips (while leaving a mess at their table to boot). To me, tipping is another means to witness to the lost. If one does not have the extra money to tip, I am sorry, but they need to eat at home.

    Hi, Karen. I believe in the beginning tipping was given to reward excellent service. If tipping were discontinued, and say 15 percent added to the price of the meals, and the wait help were given the 15 per cent, would some people continue to tip…say for outstanding service?

    Some cruise lines allow no tipping…and I think that makes it easier to deal with, for often it is a puzzle to know how much to tip certain people. There are guidelines available, though, if one checks ahead of time.

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  15. Wow what a subject, I have very mixed feelings. Having worked as a waitress for several years (as a student) I relied upon my tips to boost my wages. The restaurant where I worked was a good one with a great reputation there it was “expected” of clients to tip.
    But on the other hand, I resent tipping if the service has been poor, if several waiters have served rather one specific one or if the food has been disappointing I will not tip!
    I run a successful art studio in France and I don’t expect to be tipped for it so why should a waitress? I wrap gifts purchased free of charge, provide additional cards etc., in other words I go that extra bit in order for my client to leave in a happy frame of mind but I would NEVER expect them to leave a tip for my kindness so why should others?

    An interesting topic which I believe has nothing to do with religion or manners really!

    Hello, Lunes. Welcome to my blog. Hope you visit here often. I took a trip to your site before answering here, and I must say I wish I could join your affair on April 6th. But…it’s a bit too far, I suppose. I’ve never been to France, but it is one of the places on my “wish list.”

    I think that many people, like you, are ambivalent about tipping, but because they’ve had experience as a waitress or know someone who has, and because it has come to be expected actually as part of their wages, nearly all of us pay-up. Here in the states, I believe tipping is expected in connection with the service of the waitress–not of the quality of the food itself. Is that different in France. (I’m referring to your saying: “if the food has been disappointing I will not tip!”)

    I do understand your points, though. My husband is a preacher and we’ve never come to expect a tip if he preaches exceptionally well…:)…now that I think of it, though, not a bad idea. Can’t you see it now! A special offering pan set out, saying “Tips.” (I’m teasing about this, of course. I have no complaints about Jerry’s financial treatment.)

    Anyway, good to hear from you.

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  16. In a perfect world, tips would not exist. The owner of the establishment would pay his/her employees fairly. A tip is a bit of an insult, making beggars of the working poor.

    Ah, but the world is not perfect. And the people who work these jobs need the money generated by tips to survive. We do not eat out often. Truth is, we can’t afford to. We stay in motels where we carry our own bags. But when we eat in a nice restaurant we tip 15%.

    Helen, I’m not sure how it started, but for years now, Jerry and I traditionally eat out on Sunday after the morning service, and I believe most of our friends do the same. When I was a child we certainly did not eat out after Sunday service–indeed, we ate out extremely seldom.

    As far as eating out at other times, Jerry and I don’t often go to very fine restaurants except on special occasions. A couple of reasons, I think. Number one as you point out, it’s expensive, and I believe the second reason is that Jerry prefers home cooking. Now if it were up to me, I probably would eat out more often (except that we really can’t afford 😦 it either.) We actually wind up eating lots of restaurant meals through the year because we travel a lot.

    We tip 15 to 20 percent at a nice place. At the Golden Corral and such places, we also tip, but probably in the 10 percent range, although here in Lake Havasu we frequently have drawn the same waitress who is exceptionally competent and friendly. I think she is tipped as though we were in a conventional restaurant.

    When Jerry was asked to tip 15% before the meal, he declined. 🙂 Don’t blame him.

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