by Kris Mason
Did you know that in 18 different states here in the U.S. the minimum wage will increase above the Federal level by as much as 40% and more? Waiters across the country have always complained about their non-existent paychecks caused by their tipped wage. In fuzzy numbers, if your supposed to make $7 an hour, you get paid around $2 because your cash tips will be at least the roughly $5 needed to guarantee that you make at least that minimum hourly wage.
As a waiter, my coworkers always had their one tried and true, fall back complaint, “I worked my butt off, and I served a ton of people in huge parties who ate and drank, and rang up a huge tab, and made a big mess that I had to clean up, and then they turned around and left a really crappy tip; and that sucks because (here it comes…) I only make like $2.00 an hour!”
Although I’ve never joined in on this particular rant, it is my fantasy to have every table leave a huge tip, every day, all year long. Everybody tips. Some great; some not so much. Most waiters compliment themselves when a tip is great and mercilessly shred the customer when it isn’t. When it doesn’t turn out in the server’s favor, watch out, they’ll go off!
The rant usually begins with flying expletives. Faces turn red. Waiters take to Facebook and for the millionth time begin to explain to “You People” that their wage (without tips) is only about $2.13 an hour and is completely wiped out when it’s used to cover the taxes on their cash and credit card tips.
These are straw man arguments constantly repeated by amateurs who have failed to do the math themselves. They want you to feel bad for them about the $2 part when in reality the cash part is more like $15 rather than $5. They explain about all the people that have to be tipped out, the bartenders, the bussers, the hostesses. In crunching the numbers, they argue that if you tip less than what they have to pay out (or worse, nothing) it will cost them money for you to go out and eat.
Sure. Totally true… if they only wait on that one table and then immediately go home. What an awful job that would be; earn two bucks an hour, receive no paycheck, pay for some family to go out to eat and then get sent home, in the red. I read similar rants like these at least once a month. It’s so familiar that it almost seems cut and pasted. From the outside looking in, I’m inclined to think this rant would produce fewer improvements on tipping and create more people trying to convince their favorite waiter to quit their horrible job.
So where do we go from here? We all enjoy venting; but how can we blame customers now that the minimum wage no longer supports the “poor mouth” narrative? Some states are aiming for $15 an hour by 2020. In the state where I work, the minimum wage was increased to $10.50 per hour; for tipped employees, like myself, it’s $7.50. That’s right, my tipped wage is higher than the Federal Minimum Wage. It’s going to be even harder to rant about crappy tippers when you make $12 to $15 an hour.
"That’s the dirty little secret; waiters make BANK!"
If you really want a rant, I have one for you.
Here goes nothing...
Quit pissing and moaning about who tipped you poorly. It’s none of your business how well an individual tips. Did it ever occur to you that your vivid imagination about you being the greatest gift to the restaurant industry might be far from the reality of your skill set? If you suck at waiting tables (and many of you do), and you work at the most dysfunctional restaurant (as I know some of you do), you will make in the ballpark of $15 per hour. Last June and July, just my tips averaged out to $28 an hour; and I worked less that 30 hours because we’re “slow” for the summer. I averaged $40 an hour over the period of Christmas and New Year. That’s the dirty little secret; waiters make BANK! Why else would grown adults wait tables?! It’s the most amount of money, in the shortest amount of time, under the easiest conditions. That’s right… your job is easy! If you are doing a job that can be performed well by a teenager… it’s easy. I don’t get where the outrage of one crappy tip comes from. Your job is hospitality; and hospitality has very little to do with how you feel you’re being treated. The truth is, it probably isn’t just “one crappy tip.” That probably happens to you all the time; that’s your real issue. You can’t contain yourself. When someone orders water to drink, you can’t help but visibly roll your eyes or audibly exhale; and when that table tips you poorly, you get bent and take your miserable attitude to the next table. So, just because you say, “Hi, I’m What’s-his-face, and I’ll be taking care of you,” your face actually says, “I want all you cheap bastards to die a miserable death because I’m awesome and you suck!” And when that table forms the opinion that you are a bit of an insincere jerk, and tips you accordingly, now they suck too? It’s time to turn the spotlight on yourself. If the public isn’t tipping you consistently well and you are paying for everyone to go out to eat and your last resort is to lash out and complain about the (no longer a thing) $2.13 an hour, you’re doing it wrong and this might not be your ideal vocation. If you are making the $15 to $30 an hour that I know is out there and being earned (not made) by so many of us, daily, in good times and bad, kindly shut the hell up about the minimum wage!
Wow! That felt great!
In the restaurant/hospitality industry a waiter gets more when they give more. As a provider of hospitality, the more I do for my guests, the more I earn; and that is rarely (if ever) related to the current minimum wage. Since you can’t legitimately complain about your wage anymore, here’s some more bad news…
A study from Princeton has just revealed that the majority of diners tip an average of 18%. Even worse, less than 2% of those who go out to eat leave no tip at all. It sounds more like a job to be bragging about rather than complaining. Ya, that’s the bad news. If you make $10 an hour and your guests are giving you 18% of your sales and you go home penniless because you had to “pay for your tables to eat out”… it’s not them, it’s you.
I do Waiter Boot Camps at your restaurant. Contact me to schedule a meeting. 480-600-6973