April 24th, 2024

Let’s Chat: To tip or not to tip, that is the question

By Linda Tooth on March 6, 2024.

According to CNBC.com, the history of tipping started in the Middle Ages of Europe when those who were considered wealthy began giving people in lower socio-economic classes extra money for their services. This concept spread to North America in the 1800s and now we are faced with what many would call ‘tipping-fatigue’.

I used to be a server in a lounge in Medicine Hat just over 20 years ago. It was my job to look after customers from the moment they walked in, to the moment they left.

This included bar and food service, VLT service and cleaning up after the customers left.

It was a minimum-wage job that was hard but rewarding at the same time. I made many friends and the money from the tips was what kept me going.

We were paid out our tips after the end of each shift and I always went home with more money than what I went to work with. There was no decided amount option on what everyone should tip. It was at the discretion of the individual.

Let us fast forward 20 years. I was at the mall recently having a meal at the food court. The person working asked if my order was ‘to stay or to go’. I answered, ‘to stay,’ and they grabbed a Styrofoam plate and put my four items together.

I then indicated I wanted a drink with that, and they poured it. I grabbed my tray and went to pay.

Imagine my surprise when it came time to pay, and the assumption was, first, that I was going to pay by debit. On the debit machine I was asked if I wanted to tip 15%, 18% etc. I was stunned.

For me, tipping depends on the quality of service. There was no chit-chat, no one asked how my day was or how I was feeling. But the assumption was there to tip. I paid cash and sat down to enjoy my meal. Do the cleaners who clean off the trays and tables or mop the floor receive tips?

I do realize it is the owners of each establishment who probably set the tip amounts on the debit machines.

I was also at another establishment on the weekend and the person who sold me a ticket that I won stood there and waited for me to tip them. Even the predetermined denomination of the bills handed to me would have made it easy to tip. When did that become OK?

I do tip when I go out, but I will not be prompted by some predetermined amount. I will base my tip on the service I receive.

Maybe I am getting old, and this is the way the world has become. If that is the case, I will have cash ready in my wallet and will continue to pay for the services I receive based on the service I receive.

Oh my, I am getting old.

Linda Tooth is a communications instructor at Medicine Hat College

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