As I may have mentioned it before, I’m a server. A starving student who waits tables, groundbreaking, I know.
Any job I have ever had has involved food service: My first volunteer job delivering space food to the patients at the Grace Hospital, my first paying job serving lunch and dinner in the dining room of an upscale retirement residence, and all of my jobs that followed steaming lattes in coffee shops and dishing out turkey dinners in restaurants.
After years of serving, there is a certain trend I’ve noticed among Winnipeg restaurant goers: People are cheap. But today I’m giving the benefit of the doubt and serving up a public service announcement for restaurant goers: Tip your server.
It’s an odd concept, tipping the person that essentially done nothing but taken your order, brought out your meal, and refilled your iced tea twice. But it’s part of the social convention, and—just this once—I agree with it.
Whether your server is single parent trying to feed her kids, a college student trying to pay off loans, or a high-schooler saving up for a car, she lives off those tips, she depends on them.
Now granted, if you’re dining out and your service is just terrible—the server is miserable, your order comes out wrong, and the server makes no attempt to apologize—tip at your own discretion.
For every other occurrence, when your server is friendly, efficient and your meal runs smoothly from beginning to end, then do as the social protocol does and leave a tip.
The fine folks at Daily Infographic have an easy-to-read chart on tipping etiquette around the world. The standard tip in Canada is 15-20%, 10% is acceptable but stingy, and stiffing your server (leaving no tip) is the equivalent of throwing a pile of dirt in her face at the end of the meal.
As a student, I can understand that eating out is expensive. As a child from a family of four kids, I know that tipping on top of an already large bill is a struggle. My rule of thumb is this: If you can’t afford to tip your server, you can’t afford to eat out.
There’s no shame in dining at home Saturday night, so take a seat already and pass the Ramen noodles.