To tip, or Not to Tip

To tip, or Not to Tip

After having travelled to different places and having eaten in various restaurants across Canada and around the world for that matter, I got to thinking about that ‘tip’ we leave when we push away from the table with our bellies full, and our heads spinning a little from the beer or wine that accompanied our meal. For me a lot of things come into mind when leaving a “gratuity” to someone that served me in some way, things like; was the food good, was the service friendly and efficient, did the waitress or waiter have a smile, and last but not least, was I totally satisfied with the time spent wining and dining in their establishment?  Indeed the very description of a tip is “a sum of money tendered to certain service sector workers for services rendered” (Webster’s unabridged, Wikpedia.).

tipI’m old school, so the ‘services rendered’ part really stands out for me, but apparently that is no longer a prerequisite. “Tipping” has become, according to most dictionaries, a social custom, but varies significantly around the world. Tipping a civil servant of course is illegal, and is usually called bribery or corruption, but that’s a whole different story, although I have seen people leave their change or more at Liquor store check-outs, which I really don’t understand.

Should tipping be mandatory or voluntary? This is where I have a problem, because it’s pretty much become mandatory everywhere in the world, except for places like Japan and China, and parts of Eastern Europe. Of course tipping doesn’t only apply to restaurants so in some places it is practiced more for things like hotels, taxis, tour guides, etc, and most of the gratuities are connected directly to tourists or business travellers which is why it has become a worldwide tradition in today’s global community.

In Scandinavia and still most of Europe, the locals tip simply by rounding off the final bill to its next highest even figure, eg: a tab of 11.24($,€ whatever) would become 12 ($,€ whatever), which sounds very reasonable to me, keeping in mind that I am considered ‘cheap’ among my friends. It is usually referred to as “drink money” in those parts of the world which means I guess, they spend their tips on drinking after work, who knows.

The practice of leaving a tip appears to be connected directly to the English language as it was started in Britain around the 17th century and migrated to America with the immigrants. The Americas, North Central and South, are the biggest tippers on the planet and it is considered normal to leave a monetary token of appreciation in any of these areas making it almost mandatory or at least expected, which is why of course it comes up automatically on those little credit card machines waiters carry around in their back pockets. The normal amount in most of the US and South America is 10% and is calculated by matching the sales tax of the country implicated.

In some cases, like higher rated hotels or cruise ships the tip is included in the tab, but we still leave a tip anyway, what’s with that? Of course Canadians and Americans (not the same thing) are the most generous tippers anywhere and “les Québecois” tend to be the highest of them all. Whether it’s cash or debit is of little consequence, as long as it’s 15%, good service or bad.

Personally I feel a tip should be given as a reward for having done something in a polite or professional way that concerned me or those around me and should be calculated accordingly. I have a tough time dealing with this 10% or 15% automatic gift just because I used their services, but since it’s usually my wife that pays when we go to a restaurant I don’t have much to say about it, but of course I express my opinion anyway.

I could go on forever about tipping and its usefulness, but every person has their own opinion on it and heaven forbid I should try to change the world or its mannerisms concerning how much one should reward someone else for whatever they did to whom and or how they did it.

Categories: Arts & Culture, News

About Author

Job Patstone

Job Patstone was born in Hamilton, ON. and has lived in Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer AB. He is presently living in Quebec City, with his wife. He worked for Xerox for 26 years and was an ESL teacher for another ten.

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