Tip before you dip: the importance of tipping waiters, waitresses

By Michelle Guerin
December 6, 2017


When people do not feel like cooking themselves and they just want to eat out with friends or family, going to sit down restaurants can be a relaxing alternative to preparing a meal at home; however, those waiters and waitresses serving people hand and foot usually only get paid under $3.00, relying on tips to change their day.

Waiters and waitresses must have great communication skills, customer service skills, interpersonal skills and especially physical stamina, spending hours on their feet handling more than one task, from carrying dishes to heavy trays. This is in addition to being organized, detail-oriented and having a good memory.

“The servers who get to know you and make a connection with you are really awesome,” Haley Hawkins, a junior studying elementary education major with a minor in music, said. “You know that even though they are working and doing their job, they genuinely care about your experience.”

Many people that go to eat out sometimes do not understand that waiters and waitresses cannot make up to minimum wage without tips.

Natalie Wharton, a sophomore studying psychology with a theater minor, has a year of experience waitressing and is currently serving.

“Our tips are what we depend on.” Photo from Flickr: @morethanroute66.

“Without tips, I would have been making only $10-$15 for 50-60 hours of work all together,” Wharton said. “There have been days when I have been stiffed by multiple parties on one day because some people do not feel the need to tip.”  Stiff, in Wharton’s words, meant the people left without giving a tip.

Kaylee Plisinski, a senior studying criminology with four years of waitressing experience, added that when people do not tip, some servers actually have to pay to out-of-pocket for serving them, because the wait staff has to share their tips.

“If you’re ever thinking about leaving a bad tip, do not forget that the servers also have to tip out the bus boy, the bar and the food runners,” Plisinski said. “Some restaurants make the servers tip out based on a percentage of their total sales, so, in the end, you are actually making the server pay out of their own pocket if you skip the tip.”

When a waiter or waitress takes a job, they want to have extra money to be able to afford many essentials.

“No one can live off $4.50 an hour; some people even make less than that,” Danielle Basile, a sophomore studying early childhood and special education, said. “Our tips are what we depend on.”

Chelsea DiPompeo, a senior studying accounting and international business, has been waitressing for five years. Recently having adopted a child to buy presents for through a holiday organization, DiPompeo explained the impact of how getting a good tip helped not only her, but someone else.

“It was such a generous tip and it allowed me to buy a few extra toys and gifts the child really loved,” DiPompeo said. “It definitely made the holidays so much better.”

Mignon Toppino, a sophomore studying religious studies with a minor in social justice, said she tries to tip well even then the server makes some mistakes because everyone has off days.

“I know that being a server means not getting paid as well and depend[ing] mostly on tips,” Toppino said. “I try to make a point to try not to judge my servers harshly because everyone has rough days.”

Rough days occur more than most think or realize.

DiPompeo explained that once, while carrying a few plates and talking to a table, one of the guests was occupied by his email on his phone and walked right into DiPompeo. Though DiPompeo tried having most of the food drop on her, a little got on the guest and he started screaming at her.

Digital Image by Sean Locke.

“Not even exaggerating, it was only a few drops that got on the bottom of the man’s pants and he started screaming at me about how expensive they were, how incompetent I was and how maybe I would understand when I got a real job,” DiPompeo said. “I was shocked at first, but just apologized, cleaned myself off and continued waiting on the rest of the party.”

Luckily for DiPompeo, the rest at the table tipped her very generously and apologized for their coworkers’ behavior.

DiPompeo said, “It isn’t the servers fault that the system is this way and if someone wants real change, they need to petition Congress or work for change, not punish someone trying to make a living.”

Michelle Guerin

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