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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tipping promotes excellent service

    Most waiters and waitresses share a similar behavior pattern. They “”over-tip”” at restaurants for the same reason: They “”know how much it sucks to work in the restaurant business.”” In exchange for being patient with nasty customers and acrobatically balancing multiple plates on their arms, waiters expect an impressive tip in addition to their minimum wage paycheck.

    Tipping is a nice concept, but somehow, it has become expected in this culture, and many other countries believe it’s a wasteful donation. I’ve been told that waiters “”make all their money in tips”” because they only get paid minimum wage, but can’t this statement be applied to other menial jobs as well? If waiters deserve a tip for being cordial to a mean customer, shouldn’t new DMV employees get tipped for talking to hostile people who clearly don’t want to be there? Shouldn’t dog-walkers get tipped for picking up animal waste? Why not tip everyone who has an underpaid, unpleasant job, too?

    Ultimately, waiters get tipped because they are prepared to give excellent customer service under the worst conditions, and their patience is often tested. Waiter positions require speed, efficiency and coordination, which many can’t acquire, and waiters are also unjustly blamed for delivering disappointing entrees they do not even cook.

    They tend to be outgoing, friendly people who can talk to anyone about anything, and you can usually imagine being their friend outside of the restaurant environment. They sincerely greet customers, ask personal questions, and always wear a smile. It’s a treat to go to a nice restaurant, and a chipper waitress willing to make conversation enhances the going-out-to-dinner experience.

    It’s not uncommon for waiters and waitresses to hit on or get hit on by their customers, and this makes sense. It’s truly rewarding to be surrounded by vibrant people, even if they only put on a personable act in hopes of getting an unusually high tip.

    I recently went to England and France, where tips aren’t a cultural expectation. Tipping 10 percent is considered more than generous. What’s the incentive for waiters in European countries to deliver then? Their wages are higher, so they don’t hurry customers to leave in order to earn multiple tables’ worth of tips. Once seated, customers have their table for as long as they want, and this benefits families going out to dinner. They can freely talk without worrying about overstaying their welcome at a restaurant, or frustrating a waiter who sees another family waiting to be seated at that booth.

    The slower pace is a nice change, but how does customer service come into play? Without tips, the waiters may not feel the need to be dynamic or personable. They may not pay as much attention to regular customers. Aside from having sentimental family hour, customers won’t have the same waiter-customer bond that is seen in the United States. Shallow and temporary as it may be, it can still brighten the day of an otherwise lonely customer, and the positive atmosphere makes the restaurant feel less like a business.

    Alice Furland of The Atlantic Monthly remarked on her observations on the lack of customer service in France: “”I used to smolder with quiet rage in Paris shops where I’d have to wait my turn while the proprietor or the clerk gossiped with another customer, talking of their winnings in the Loterie Nationale or the state of their livers, without even a sidelong glance at me. Finally, a Frenchman waiting in line ahead of me, while the cashier endlessly passed time with another customer, explained why the expression ‘I’ll be right with you’ has never passed French commercial lips. ‘That would acknowledge a call to work.’ A job in France comes with a range of generous perquisites and retirement benefits, but one is not necessarily expected to work very hard, and fawning on customers would be too much like work.””

    We may pay for food when we go out to restaurants, but if we want exceptional, outstanding service, we have to leave a tip, and the waiters deserve it when they go above and beyond to enhance the restaurant experience.

    – Laura Donovan is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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