I just enjoyed Kent Bernhardt’s column in the Salisbury Post about tipping — and thought I’d weigh in.
I don’t tip much, because I don’t eat out much. I rarely take taxis or stay in hotels or spend time on cruise ships.
I’ll never forget one night, in the mid 1980’s, when I worked at the Golden Palace Chinese Restaurant, off East Innes Street, in Salisbury. At the time, I was a teacher, and we had two babies at home.
I had taught all day and waited tables all night.
It was an exceptionally good night. I made $35 in tips. I stopped at the 24/7 Kroger’s on the way home (currently the Office Depot building). Most nights, I bought diapers. Diapers were a lot thicker back then, and they would completely fill the back of my VW bug — such that I couldn’t see out the rear view.
This night, I noticed a sturdy set of dishes (plates, saucers, bowls — the works) for $35. I bought ’em, and we used those dishes for many years. I think we still have a few.
I also waited tables on a cruise ship (The Cunard Aventurer) in 1974, The Green Park Inn, in Blowing Rock, in 1981 — and several eateries here in Salisbury (including the aforementioned Golden Palace, for three years, as well as Shoney’s, Kent’s Sizzling Six, and a few others whose names I can’t presently remember).
Very few rich people wait tables. Generally, when you leave an extra dollar or two, it’s a much needed dollar — and it gets put right back into the local economy.
I do make an exception for coffee. If a cup of high end java costs $2, and I leave a dollar tip, then that’s a little expensive for a cup of coffee. Usually, I leave only fifty cents. Or, nothing at all, with a mental note to leave a dollar next time (which I do).
How does one increase the value of a gift? Not by giving a bigger gift — but by giving to a person who really needs it. If I gave Donald Trump a million dollars, it wouldn’t phase him. If I gave Save the Children $28, it would literally save the life of a child.
Whether it be taxes, jobs, health insurance, food, housing, clothing, or quality education — whatever — those with lower incomes benefit more from any kind of generosity than the wealthy.
Which is why it amazes me that so many people who think so highly of religion and charity are also quick to scapegoat those in need for all our country’s problems. Health care for all? Bah! Food stamps for the poor? Bah! Help for the unemployed? Bah! Infrastructure? School construction? Bah! These expenditures get maximum value — but suddenly, the idea of helping those in need gets morphed into a weird discussion of the U.S. Constitution. And Freedom. I don’t get it.
In any case, tipping is not a gift. It’s pay. And it generally goes to a person who works really hard and really needs it. Tip more. Tip consistently (even if she’s too tired to smile). And feel great about it.