A reader recently sent me a link to this article and asked for my thoughts. It points to what I would consider to be a rather disturbing and utterly disappointing trend among my generation. Of course, if we’re being honest, millennials are a pretty messed up, whacked out, confused and diverse demographic of people anyway, right? I mean, we’re talking about the folks who popularized fads like selfie sticks and binge-watching. (Seriously, what were we thinking?)
Anyway, here’s a snippet:
According to the survey, which polled 1,000 adults of varying age groups, those aged 18-37 were found to be most likely to stiff their waiters or waitresses, with 10 percent admitting to “routinely” leaving no tip at all. A third also said they often leave less than 15 percent. Of the groups surveyed, millennials also expressed the most interest in getting rid of the traditional restaurant/gratuity model altogether, with 27 percent saying they would prefer a system where the gratuity for food and service was incorporated into the price.”
Alright. I feel compelled to write about this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because a reader requested that I do so. It’s also because I’ve known many people over the years who have worked in the thankless “food service industry,” dealing with the self-entitled cheapskates and tightwads for eight to ten hours every day. I worked in customer service myself for 15 years, so I know just how ungrateful and utterly oblivious many people can be. I’ve also grown up for most of my young adult life hearing stories about the family diner that my grandparents owned and how my father worked there as a boy washing dishes and serving food to customers.
Also, I like to eat. In fact, it’s one of my favorite recreational hobbies, particularly since my medical challenges don’t always make it easy. So, when my family and I go out to an actual restaurant, you better believe I’m going to at least attempt to enjoy something on the menu. I’ll eat as much of it as I possibly can and if there’s anything leftover, I’ll request a to-go box. That food will not go to waste. If I don’t eat it, someone else will. My dad will. My mom will. My sister will. My dog will. Rest assured though: it will be eaten. You see, I’m keenly aware of just how much time, effort, energy, and patience goes into preparing several meals for a family of four, let alone carrying those meals to the table and then constantly refilling drinks and bringing out fresh napkins. It’s a job that I could never do. I simply lack the tolerance to deal with many of the boorish and barbaric narcissists who come bursting through the doors of any local Applebee’s or Chili’s on a typical weeknight, demanding that the entire staff revolve around their every whim and then don’t even possess the decency to leave a 15 or 20 percent tip.
These subhuman neanderthals are truly the lowest of the low. They exist in a class all to themselves and, apparently, most of them are around my age. I am truly ashamed of this new reality.
So, here’s what I would say to my fellow millennials: We must become better tippers. The fate of humanity rests upon our fortitude, courage and willingness to do so — not to mention how we are perceived by other generations. (Maybe we could even set an example for Generation Z.) Just hear me out:
Imagine it’s Friday night. You have plans to dine at a local sit-down restaurant with your best friend or significant other. Normally you would just hit up the nearest Taco Bell or Arby’s, but tonight is special. You’re going to dive into the lap of luxury and actually go somewhere that offers appetizers, entrees and desserts. If things get really wild, you might even order a side salad. Maybe you even have plans to see the latest superhero flick afterwards. Awesome. Congratulations. Superhero movies are good.
But, wait. Have you thought this evening through all the way? Have you remembered that sit-down restaurants also offer a little service known as waitering/waitressing? This service is performed by actual human beings who, you know, wait on you. Oftentimes, they wait on you hand-and-foot, while simultaneously juggling about a million other tasks. And it’s not just you. They’re probably waiting on about four other tables as well. And you can be certain that one of those tables is either a birthday party or a family with a screaming baby. Maybe both.
Now, if you’ve decided to treat yourself and/or your friend to this particular culinary establishment, but do not have the money necessary to pay for the waitering service, then why are you eating there? That’s like putting your car in the repair shop and paying for the parts, but refusing to pay the labor fee for the mechanic who installed the parts. Let’s be honest: If you’re going to spend $40 or more on food at a restaurant, but don’t have $8 or more for a minimum 20 percent tip, then you really have no business dining there to begin with. Sure the tip isn’t mandatory. It never has been. We all know that. But it’s still the proper and decent thing to do. And that’s the whole point.
Besides, if you’re really that tight on money, you’d be better off doing what I did during most of my junior year of college. Go home and make a grilled cheese sandwich. Scramble some eggs. Make a hot dog. Go to Walmart and buy a frozen pizza. Buy a gallon of milk and a box of your favorite cereal. Why would you spend the bulk of your income on a one-night restaurant experience? As a student, I couldn’t afford to blow money on luxurious dinners at The Olive Garden every weekend. I had to prioritize and make sure that I had enough money to cover personal expenses like my health insurance, car payment, gasoline and textbooks. This is what we refer to as Being An Adult. (Or, in my case, a Broke Adult.) Those fancy breadsticks and seasoned croutons are for rich people.
I know that most of you non-tipping millennials will try to justify your actions by claiming one of two things. You’ll either argue that you need to save as much money as possible or that the service was bad. We’ve already covered why the first argument is ridiculous and nonsensical. As for the latter excuse, I have a feeling that — in most cases — you’re intentionally being overly critical of your waiter/waitress. You’re just searching for the smallest reason to deduct that gratuity and deny them their entire tip. Maybe you didn’t get that third drink refill you were hoping for. Maybe you had to ask for extra silverware or napkins. Maybe there was too much garlic in your pasta when you had requested a light amount of garlic. Dear God. How will you survive?
Personally, I’ve come to embrace my father’s model for tipping. Always tip at least 20 percent (or more) even if and especially when the service is not what you hoped for or expected. In other words: Show some grace and compassion. Take the high road. Go above and beyond. Maybe your server is having a rough day. You literally have no idea what he or she could be going through in their personal life.
It’s been my experience that most waiters and waitresses are denied tips for things that were never really their fault. Either that, or the customer is a heartless, self-entitled millennial skinflint who needs to be more appreciative. If that’s the case — and, based on the current data, it appears to be — then we should change our behavior.
Let the insanity and ungratefulness cease. It's time to put an end to this.
Hear me, fellow millennials: become a better tipper. It will dramatically change your perspective on people and your outlook on life. Trust me. Also, it's the right thing to do.