I’ve never been a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino. I find his movies, while visually stunning, to be very obnoxious and generally overrated. His best film, and one of the best films of the 1990s, Jackie Brown, is the least “Tarantino” movie of the bunch (I also really like Pulp Fiction and somewhat liked Inglourious Basterds, but mainly for Christoph Waltz). He’s way too obsessed with the laziness of the revenge plot line, his movies are often unnecessarily violent, with gratuitous levels of obscene language, and overburdened with way too many pop culture references.
It must also be said that I think his worst film, and the only movie of his I’d categorize as flat-out bad (the rest are merely on a scale from “eh” to “meh”), is Reservoir Dogs. While it showed strong promise for him as a director, promise he lived up to with his next two movies, it’s just not a very good film.
If you’ve seen the movie and looked at the title of this article, you probably get where I’m going with this. If not, check out this scene.
Now it’s notable that Mr. Pink, played by Steve Buscemi in one of his first major roles, is a psychotic, amoral sociopath. Despite that, many people seem to feel he’s really onto something with his anti-tipping comments, and nodded along just like how some people thought Archie Bunker was really onto something. Just have a look at the comments section on that video if you don’t believe me.
With respect, I disagree, and I’d say to the character, and anyone else that wants to make a similar rant, that if you don’t want to tip, don’t go to a restaurant where it’s expected. Go to a place like McDonald’s where, fair or not, tipping is not expected (and having worked both fast food and as a server in a somewhat more standard restaurant, I will say that, at least mentally, being a server is far, far more work).
This is where I start bringing in terms like “social contract”, something which, unsurprisingly, a band of criminals wouldn’t have much truck with. Basically society has decided that tipping is something we should all do. Restaurants plan for it, servers plan for it, and customers should plan for it. If you can’t afford to tip, either don’t eat out, or go to a place where it isn’t expected. If you go to a place where it is expected, tip.
This isn’t just a matter of manners or a social contract, either. See, sometime in the last twenty years or so (I say that because I don’t remember it being the case when I first entered the workforce), it’s become an accepted and expected practice in the restaurant industry to “tip out” employees that don’t get tipped by the customers. This includes bussers, food runners, hosts and, at some places, bartenders. These people usually get a percentage of the server’s sales given to them as tips. When I worked for California Pizza Kitchen as a host, I got, if I remember right, 1.5% of the servers’ sales given to me as tips. It amounted to around an extra $20 a day or so, which wasn’t much, but helped a lot.
I feel that this is a good idea, but restaurant owners, being the generally “thrifty” sorts that they are, don’t pay this money out of their pockets. No, they pay it out of the servers’ tips. If I have, at my job, $1000 in sales, I might have to tip out 5% or so (I’m not sure of the exact percentage where I work), to my coworkers. That’s about $50 in that example, which was about what I tipped out on Christmas day. That comes out of my tip money, so if I earned $200 in tips, I pay them $50 and walk out with $150.
Not bad, you might think. That’s still $150 more than I walked in with, after all. That’s true, but it’s important to realize that I have to pay them that money no matter what I got in tips. If I got some very good, generous customers and earned $400 in tips, I pay my coworkers $50. But if I got a bunch of niggardly customers, and got only $60 in tips, I would still owe that $50.
Lest you think that an unlikely situation, let me point out that on Christmas Day, when I worked a fifteen hour shift, I was stiffed on two checks; one for $50 and one for $150. By that I don’t mean that the customers left without paying, I mean they left without paying me. If I had received a standard 15% tip (which, in the case of the larger check, I assure you I earned), I would have pocketed $30 off those two tables and then would have had to tip out approximately $10 to my coworkers.
But that isn’t what happened. I got paid $0.00 (which is exactly what someone took the time to write on their check, btw. If you ever want to show your face at a given restaurant more than once, don’t ever, ever do that), but still had to pay $10 to my coworkers. This means that it actually cost me money to wait on those two tables.
You can argue all you want about the fairness of this system. I do it myself. I believe that it’s good that the bussers, etc, get tips, but I feel that the company should pay those and not me. I especially believe this because it’s entirely possible to end my shift owning money instead of making money. But arguing about the fairness doesn’t change the fact that it is the system.
So when you refuse to tip, you do the following things:
1. You screw over your server, who, if they are doing their job at all right, are probably working quite hard to take care of you, and depend on your tips, especially in a state, like Arizona, where they get paid less than federal minimum wage.
2. You screw them over again because they have to pay out their coworkers, thus waiting on your cheap-ass self might cost them money.
3. You can be assured you will be remembered, especially if you stiff someone on a large check. Servers may not always remember the special of the day or what goes into your favorite drink or exactly how you like your coffee, but if you leave no tip or a very poor tip, your face will burn itself into their memory. This goes double if you’re at all famous. Memo to a certain well-known individual who came into where I work recently and didn’t tip well.
If you don’t want to tip because of a moral problem, or a financial problem, or just because you’re a cheap bastard, that’s just fine. There’s plenty of options out there. I’d say that even places that have at tip jar, like Subway or Starbucks (both of which I’ve worked for), are ok for you to go to and not tip. But if you want to go to a nice, sit-down restaurant and have someone bring you food, bring you coffee, take care of your refills, etc, etc, then you damn well better tip. It may not be the law, but it’s certainly the expectation, and if you don’t do it, then you’re frankly a jerk.