In the Times today, David Sax shares his annoyance with waiters who ask if he wants change, restaurants that charge automatic 20 percent gratuities on large parties, and a bartender “who cracked open a $4 beer bottle, and handed me back my change entirely in a stack of one-dollar notes.”
Sax seems unaware that tipping is not mandatory; in fact, he believes not tipping “is as much an option as refusing to pay your income tax because you’re a member of the Tea Party.” Things must have changed since we waited tables; we didn’t know the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union was empowered to arrest and imprison scofflaws.
His complaint spreads to taxi drivers, and suggests extortion: A cabbie drove badly, and then “strongly ‘suggested’ that I elect the 25 percent tip option on the credit card payment system. Maybe if I had paid up, his next passenger would have had a smoother ride.” We doubt that; if the driver had any discernment, he wouldn’t have judged Sax the sort of person who looked out for the welfare of others.
“Yes, I know you’re all underpaid,” Sax addresses the community of service workers at large. “But guess what? So am I.” But that’s how they do, David — they pit the lifers against the new boys, the old against the young, the journalist against the barista — anything to keep us in our place.
Sax closes by suggesting “an increase in the minimum wage,” — $2.13 for tip-reliant workers — which low rate keeps them hustling after tips, and which is all that prevents the servers who now rush to accommodate Sax from slowing to a pace better suited to the DMV or post office. Or does he think the actor/model/waiters hop to it out of love of craft, or because he deserves it?
Next week: The nerve of these guys on the subway who do acrobatics and then ask for money! Do we come to their subway cars and ask for money?