Tipping Gotta Go

When I was in freshman year, my friend got chased into her bedroom by a Chinese food delivery guy because she didn’t have money to tip him with. She called her Dad crying, and later called me to tell me about her ordeal, and this terrifying experience has since coloured my view of the tipping culture in the United States.

I don’t understand why in a country as rich as America, some employers think it’s cute to not only not pay their staff reasonable wages, but to try and foist the responsibility of paying their employees onto their customers, and have the unfortunate employees hold their innocent customers hostage with guilt and public shame if they refuse to participate in the legally sanctioned mass extortion otherwise known as “tipping”.

The generally accepted counter-argument is that workers who depend on tips are paid so little that without tips they couldn’t possibly survive, and that tips are a way to encourage good service but I find that America’s tipping culture does nothing more than make waiters unnecessarily chatty and irritating, and apparently, constantly interrupting your meal and your conversation with your friends to ask “Is everything okay?” or “How is the meal going?” is what passes as “good service” here, but frankly I’d prefer the waiter remain silent and unseen until summoned because we actually do need something.

I find it absurd that when I come to a restaurant, I am expected to pay the salary of the staff when I am neither the one who employed them nor can I take them home with me to serve me in my house (considering I am being strong-armed into paying their wages). Also, I can’t even believe the IRS taxes tips. A tip is a gift, and I find the very thought of taxing gifts disgusting. Probably, it could be wise for those restaurant owners to enroll in an irs fresh start program and learn how to compensate for taxes that we usually tend to use to defray what we originally owe to the government. It might help them understand not to charge tax on tips.

Long story short, tipping as it is done in the US is an utterly ridiculous practice, and I say this as someone who cherishes the tipping culture in Nigeria, where extra money is dashed purely as a token of appreciation or as a reward for good service. (No, I am not talking about the police and their shameless “Anything for boys” lobbying. That’s a different matter entirely).

If you can’t pay your employees their full salary, then maybe you don’t need to be running a restaurant or any other business for that matter. It’s really not by force, haba.

There are 5 comments

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  1. Lady Ngo

    I understand that waitstaff get paid ridiculously low but the idea of paying someone to do the job that they are supposed to already be getting paid to do is just….bleh.

    I’ve always wondered if people actually declare their tips on their taxes though. In all honesty, I wouldn’t! That’s crazy.

  2. Pambania

    Glad you like the tipping culture here in Nigeria. Didn’t know it takes on such a different form in the States. Tipping is generally a good thing if done out of one’s free will and not coerced with the threat of shame or embarrassment. Like salary, it should be earned not taxed as in roadside-police-extortion.

  3. Judgejudyjudy

    I have often wondered about what you’ve written as I’ve read of it or seen it in passing in movies but it isn’t my reality as I do not live in the US. IRS taxing tips really sounds ridiculous, lol.
    Your blog is really nice. This is my first time here….

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