The tipping point
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
What is a job that is worth tipping, and why does tipping exist in general?
A couple of months ago I went to a café in Port Moody to buy some chocolate. In the old days of pre-COVID, I would usually pay for things in cash, but with paper money being accepted in fewer places because of the reported risk of disease transition, I now pay for most things with cards. Back in those old days I would notice the tip jar on the tables, but I always thought it was more of a novel suggestion and less of a condition of the purchase. However, when I went to pay with my credit card, I noticed something interesting: the point-of-sale machine was automatically set up to ask if I wanted to give a tip, and I had to decline it. It wasn’t even brought up like a suggestion, it just sent me to the tip function. I always thought that tipping was something reserved for servers at restaurants and certain trades in which someone is working hard in your home. I don’t really consider someone putting chocolate in a bag as a service. It made me wonder, what is a job that is worth tipping, and why does tipping exist in general?
Tipping has been apart of English society going back to the Middle Ages, with masters giving their servants tips for good work. Overtime it grew from tips to hotel workers, to tips for restaurant servers, to today’s culture where almost any job can be tippable.
For years, I always thought the reason why we tipped restaurant servers, specifically ones that served alcohol, was because they were paid a significantly lower minimum wage and they would make that up with tips. Therefore, I had the belief that even though I’ve worked many minimum wage jobs, I was never entitled to a tip because I never worked in the service industry, with and without alcohol.
I am right to a degree on that idea, but in a way, I am also wrong. Yes, the Government of BC website talks about minimum wage and mentions that people who serve liquor to patrons do get paid a lower minimum wage. However, it is only .65 cents less than what the standard minimum wage is. This makes me think that a person getting tips can end up making more than minimum wage. Along with this, the website states that on June 1 of this year, the minimum wage will go to $15.20 an hour for all workers including servers.
Looking at this, I would think that tipping may be on the way out, but from what I have seen, it’s only growing. I’ve seen tip requests at Taco Del Mar, Pizza Garden, Chronic Taco, and many other establishments. Yes, the three I mentioned do serve alcohol at some locations, but I would not consider that their primary job. Therefore, they are probably earning minimum wage, and I think do not need to be tipped.
The thing I hate about tipping the most is the guilt of it all. If I decide not to tip, they will know from the fact that the price didn’t change, which makes me feel guilty because I think it makes me look cheap. Not to make this sound like a revenge motive, but if I don’t deserve a tip for cleaning dirty movie theatres, or setting up racks upon racks of clothing, why does someone who just puts cheese onto dough and cooks it in an oven deserve extra pay?
With all of these in mind, I think it’s high time we get rid of the act of tipping. Let’s end the wars of what constitutes a suitable tip, and just pay what the price of what the item is. Plus, the tax, because that is another part of purchases that I don’t get. Why it’s not just listed it with the price of the item? With liquor sales, employees set to be paid the same price as every other minimum wage worker, now is finally the time for us to give up the nonsensical and outdated custom of gratuity.