Times Writer Blasts Pushy Waiters

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?

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