Tipping culture needs to change

Every Friday, my family and I order the new Crumbl cookie flavors for that week. We have it down to a system. My mom orders the cookies on her phone, and my mom and I drive to Crumbl, pick up the cookies and then bring them back home where my family and I can rate each of the cookies and decide whether or not the cookies are worth driving to the other side of town for.

Every time my mom orders the cookies, there’s the automated “tip” section that has the suggested tip amount, which is equal to 3 dollars. Every time I see the automated tip, I can’t help but laugh.

 What is my mom tipping for? My mom ordered the cookies herself, in the comfort of our home. 

Tips have always been based on service and the interactions people have with customers, not the level of work someone puts into their job. If tips were based on the principle of hard work, then chefs, janitors and other employees a part of restaurants and other establishments would be expected to receive tips as well. 

I am not completely opposed to tipping cashiers. If I have a good experience with a cashier at It’s Boba Time, where I frequent, or if I was a fairly demanding customer, I tip. Tipping can be a great way to show gratitude towards employees and the work they put into their job, and for rewarding kind deeds. But, there is a line. I am not going to tip a cashier during a take-out order. They don’t have to exert much effort when I place a take-out order. I would be open to tipping when placing a take-out order if I knew that chefs, or whoever prepared my food, saw the profits from the tip. 

Right there is one of my main problems with tipping. Why do only wait staff receive the profits from tips? Chefs and janitorial workers work hard to keep establishments clean and prepare delicious food. A bad experience with wait staff, in most cases, will not prevent someone from returning to an establishment. Mediocre or inedible products or an unclean environment, however, will for certain result in an establishment losing profits. The fate of a restaurant depends on chefs and janitors, yet not only is there no societal expectation to tip these employees and they typically receive less overall compensation than wait staff.

In fact, why is there a societal expectation to tip in the first place? Remember what I said earlier about how tipping can be a great way to show one’s gratitude for a job well done? Well, historically, tips were not used in this way. After slavery was abolished in the United States, Black people only had access to occupations like wait staffing, and their employers did not pay them. At all. Instead, employers expected Black servers to earn profits through tips at the consumer’s expense. 

This practice of consumers providing servers with their wages has persisted, and is still present in a modernized way. In California, the minimum wage is higher than other states, but on average servers in the United States make $7.45 per hour, with some earning as little as $5.77 an hour. When considering how expensive everything has become in the past several years, this hourly rate is not enough to support workers… without tips. Employers need to start doing their job and give wait staff livable wages instead of relying on consumers to do it for them. Wait staff deserve to have a reliable source of income that does not depend on how much a consumer is willing to tip, if they tip at all. 

As I did more research on tips, their origins and their underlying purpose, my opinion on whether or not people should tip, when people should tip and who should receive tips changed. Forget whether or not someone is placing a take out order, tips should be abolished completely. That sounds harsh, maybe a bit over the top, but think about it. Why is there a need to tip if employee’s earnings are enough to ensure their livelihood and safety? I used to think that tipping could be a beneficial way to show a consumer’s appreciation, but let’s say that in a perfect world wait staff, chefs and janitors earned hourly wages that could put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Tips are now solely used to show a consumer’s appreciation. There is still pressure or the expectation to tip, because workers are putting effort into their jobs with the expectation of being rewarded for it. In this scenario, consumers are still demonized for not tipping. 

The logistics of completely abolishing tipping is challenging, but, over time, it is possible to change the culture associated with tipping. When the public opinion on tipping is challenged, action will be taken. Tipping originated in Medieval Europe, but after anti-tip attitudes became commonplace in the 1860s, the practice ceased to be a part of European culture, despite having been in place for centuries. Tipping attitudes can change course in the United States as well.