Tina K. Russell

October 13, 2008

Shooting from the Tip

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 3:40 pm

The Food Issue – Why Tip? – NYTimes.com
Tipping, its defenders say, improves service by rewarding good waiters and punishing bad ones. But that’s not what Porter saw when he looked out on his dining floor. In his brief experience, working for tips encouraged selfishness rather than teamwork. Moreover, good service was not always rewarded with a big tip, nor bad service with a poor one. “No other profession works like this,” Porter told me, “and I don’t see why the restaurant business should either.” At his restaurant, Porter and his staff agreed, it no longer would. The Linkery would be more than just a restaurant; it would become perhaps the nation’s only anti-tipping laboratory.

I’ve mentioned before that I hate tipping with a fierce passion; if you’re going to judge me by some unwritten social rule that changes from place to place and that I can never reliably determine, then screw you and the apron you rode in on. (Obviously, my opposition to this unwritten practice doesn’t extend to politeness in general, which I feel is critical to society; but, unlike with other unwritten social rules, not tipping extends you scorn rather than a warm benefit of the doubt. Oh, and tipping is an excuse to pay service workers jack-shit and leaves their income at the arbitrary whims and moods of customers, pass it on.) So, here’s an article on a restaurant that has a fixed service charge, and forbids tipping outright. When you’re done, you’ll learn about how tipping began as a way for English aristocrats to feign pity towards social inferiors, and wish all restaurants had this new diner’s policy.

(More on why I don’t like tipping: it encourages servers to be peppy and annoying. It denies the kitchen staff their due for their hard work. It creates enmity among employees who recieve different levels of tips for factors completely outside their control. It combines awkward social pressures with math at the end of the meal. And… I’d just prefer a fixed charge rather than awkwardly nudging to me to think of every single person involved in making this meal and how much teeters on the amount of my clumsily-arrived-at final figure.)

(And, the diner has a “charity of the month” for people who still want to give extra, which is great.)

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