Giving gratuity, more than just an act of generosity

Procrastination fully set in and after checking Facebook one too many times, I began perusing the internet for random things to occupy my time.
As I was clicking link after link, I came across a photograph of a receipt where a single mother wrote, “single mom, sorry” where the tip amount should be. The amount for the bill was
$138.35. At the bottom of the receipt, the mother wrote, “Thank you it was great.”
Since the photo of the receipt has gone viral, the question surrounding this photo has been whether or not being a single mother is a sufficient excuse for not leaving a tip.
Of course, the argument has been made that the mother shouldn’t have even been eating at a place where a meal costs that much if she couldn’t afford the tip.
However, the counterargument has been made that maybe she has a lot of kids and wasn’t expecting the meal to cost so much.
I can see how both sides of the argument are valid, but to make this scenario more relatable, I thought about how different the scenario would be if the quintessential broke college student pulled the same stunt.
With all of the random expenses that we college students seem to find ourselves paying, food can sometimes become the rarest of all commodities.
I don’t believe it was acceptable for the woman to use her single motherhood as an excuse not to leave a tip, just as I don’t believe it is acceptable for college students — or anyone for that matter – not to leave a tip when eating at a restaurant; especially a restaurant where you spend roughly $140.
In fact, some states allow restaurants to pay their servers as low as $2.13 per hour.
When I was looking for more information on this matter, I found a few personal accounts of how tipping and a $2.13 per hour wage go hand in hand.
One man said, “I have been a waiter for several years and my pay is $2.13 per hour. At the end of the night, I have to tip out a percentage of how much total sales I made.”
Essentially, this waiter, like many others, has to give a portion of his tips to hosts, cooks, food runners, etc.
After that distribution has been made, he makes the equivalent of about 10% worth of tips a table. In the grand scheme of things, if business is slow, he could wind up walking home with less than minimum wage.
The logic behind the $2.13 per hour salary is that it is inexpensive for the restaurant to give employees. This practice is allowed because of the understanding that the employees are expected to make up the difference in salary with the tips they earn.
Another personal account was from a man explaining the distribution practices that waiters have to implement.
He said, “we have to tip out a percent of our sales to a support staff: bartenders, busboys, expediters, runners, and hostesses. So if I don’t get tipped on a $100 check, I pay out of my pocket to wait on you.”
To go back to the lady who left a ‘nice note’ on the receipt instead of an actual tip, the lady wasn’t legally required to pay a tip.
However, under the circumstances that the evidence provided, this single mother was in the wrong. I’m not going to deny that as a college student, money has gotten tight at times, and I have failed to leave a tip.
After going through my Sociology class and realizing the type of money these hard working people make, I was appalled.
Just the other week, I was out eating a late night dinner with a friend and after receiving the check, I didn’t feel like leaving a tip.
I went through my running list of how much money I had spent in the past few days and how much more money I was going to spend in the upcoming weeks until my next solid paycheck.
When I came to the decision that the amount of money I had left to spend was too little to justify leaving a tip, I got out of the booth and was heading towards the door of the restaurant.
My bill was roughly $5, a rather insignificant amount in the grand scheme of things. Just as I was about to leave, I thought back to a conversation I had with our waitress and how selfish I was being for wanting to hold onto a measly dollar.
Of course, my situation wasn’t nearly as noticeable as a $140 bill, but every cent counts. As college students, we should know that.
Next time you’re out at a restaurant and it comes time to leave a tip, remember to actually leave a tip.
Don’t make an excuse, especially one that tries to earn sympathy points with someone you may never see again.
There isn’t an excuse big enough to cover for the indecency of not leaving a tip. If you don’t want to leave a tip, fast food is always a good alternative.