A Request to Tyler Perry

This weekend a very big movie was released. It’s called The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. But another, almost as big movie, was also released. It’s called A Madea Christmas. Here is a trailer.

So, yes. I worked this movie last night for three screenings. Two were very underpopulated and I had no guests in either one. But one sold out almost completely (sparking me to crack jokes about Tyler Perry Sells Out), and I had five tables in there.

Now I work for tips. I get paid a total of $4.80 an hour (and my paychecks, after taxes, are usually under $40, and I have to tip-out bussers and food runners on the basis of my sales, not my tips. It is, I think, 1.5% of my sales that I give them. So if someone buys $100 worth of food, I have to give the bussers and runners $1.50. Not a huge amount, but there you are.

The problem is that these movies attract a significantly large amount of black people. I have zero problem with that usually. But there’s a stereotype that blacks don’t tip well and, alas, studies have born this out. Blacks are generally even worse than European tourists, who notoriously tip poorly due to the lack of a tipping culture in Europe.

It’s important to note real quick here that I’m not talking about all black people. But it does seem like a substantial number don’t quite understand how to properly tip and therefore don’t.

In the nearly sold-out movie I worked last night, with my five tables, I was completely stiffed by three of them. I received zero. This means that, due to the tip-outs that I mentioned earlier, I actually had to pay for the privilege of waiting on these guests. The other two tables did tip, but tipped at under 10%.

The study I linked to suggest that the problem of many blacks tipping poorly is largely cultural, and I think they’re on to something. You can’t expect someone to tip properly if they don’t know what the proper amount of a tip is. For the record, the standard tipping amount in America is approximately 15 – 20%. I say if you receive poor service, 10% is acceptable and if you receive stellar service, a tip as high as 30% is acceptable. If your service is extremely good or extremely bad, you can go outside those ranges, but then you really do need to talk with someone in management and let them know what’s going on so the problems can be addressed, or so the server can get recognition.

If the problem is that, in general, blacks simply don’t know what the standard tipping range is, then black culture needs to be a bit more aggressive in telling them. This is where Tyler Perry can come in useful. I have no idea why his movies are so popular, because from what I hear, they certainly aren’t very good, but black people (and, to be fair, no small amount of white people), do seem to like them. Therefore, Mr. Perry can be part of the solution to this problem.

It would be nice if in one of his movies there could be a scene where tipping is discussed and the proper tipping amount is brought up. That would get the message out to the audience. Sure, it’s a bit ham-handed, but people like me depend on these tips for our livelihood, and that includes my black coworkers, some of whom also have problems with the way black people tend to tip.

To be fair, some black people tend to be aware of this problem and overtip. That’s nice, but they shouldn’t have to feel the need to pick up the slack for those who aren’t with the program. So, Tyler Perry, if on the off chance you read this, please do something. Thanks!


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