Tipping, an obligation or a reward?

Emily Gibbens, Opinion writer

Servers tend to be overworked and underpaid, with half their salaries coming from tips

One of the major discrepancies when it comes to dining out is whether tipping is an obligation or an added bonus for spectacular service. There are valid points to each side, but I think it is safe to say that adding gratuity to your tab is always appreciated.

If you don’t think tipping your server is necessary, I have a feeling your opinion would change if you switched places with that server for a night. Until one has actually waited tables, I don’t think they truly appreciate all the work that goes on behind the scenes. Or at least that was the case for me.

This summer, I got my first waitressing job ever. My job was with a brand new, start-up restaurant in my hometown called States Side Restaurant & Lounge. When I started working there, my first thought was, “How hard can it be?” I would have never thought a restaurant in a town of just over 1,000 people could get very busy. After working there for just a couple of days, I realized that I was extremely mistaken.

After my first night of work at the restaurant, I felt guilty for not tipping my servers better in the past. I was never a bad tipper, but I am much more generous because I know how just one good tip can make a big difference. I am so much more appreciative of work that goes into the job now that I have been on the other side of it.

Servers usually have many more duties and responsibilities than customers realize. They do not just give you your food, and then walk to the back and take a break. There is always something to be done. A lot of restaurants have “side work’ for waiters and waitresses to be on top of in between helping customers. Such side work could be anything from cleaning,  to rolling silverware.

Although it may seem like it because they are the only employees you are in contact with, not everything that goes wrong at a restaurant is the server’s fault. Waiters and waitresses take a lot of heat for issues that are usually out of their control.

When a restaurant gets busy, the kitchen can get backed up. There are only so many cooks making food at once, and when a big order gets put in right in front of yours, there’s nothing you can do but wait. The server cannot control the speed at which your food is being cooked, and I promise you, no one wants your food out faster than your server does.

It is usually not the server’s fault that there is tomato on your burger, even though you specifically said no tomato. Unless the server completely disregarded writing it, the kitchen staff may have missed the note. Most of the time, the only food that the wait staff comes into contact with is the salads and soups you get before your meal. Other than that, it is entirely the kitchen who is putting your food together.

Of course, never hesitate to let your servers know what is wrong with your meal, or if you have any questions or concerns. It is their job to fix the issue, but try and remember to be patient and treat them with respect because usually, they are doing the best they can.

Many times, the tip you are leaving for your waiter or waitress is having to be split between other employees of that restaurant.

Cash and credit card tips are also, always taxed. When you tip with a credit card, it is legal for the employer to take out an extra percentage from the server’s tip to cover the credit card fee.

When someone from another table pays for your tab, it is still very appreciated when you leave a tip on the table for your server. Most of the time, the people picking up the tab don’t think about leaving a tip for the other table’s server. Lastly, consider leaving a small tip next time you order take out. Sometimes, those are the only tips cashiers are making.

By all means, if the server is not doing a good job or rude, they don’t deserve a good tip or a tip at all. Just take some of these points into consideration next time you are impressed with their service. Try to put yourself in others shoes. Many people don’t find tipping necessary, so one good tip can make the server’s entire night.

Emily Gibbens is an opinion writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]