By Kelline Linton, Chief Copy Editor
Short on cash? Want to save a few extra dollars for the holidays? My suggestion: ride a bike, donate plasma or cut back on the Starbucks coffee. But, by no means, don’t forget to tip your waiters.
Last week, a group of 130 people went to a restaurant close to campus to celebrate Thanksgiving. They enjoyed a delicious meal and good company for several hours, eventually racking up a $1,600 bill. They then left their 15 servers a tip totaling $3.25, or about 20 cents each.
I wonder how many waiters felt thankful that night?
When minimum wage increased to $6.55 on July 24, the cash wage for tipped employees remained at $2.13 an hour. If a server’s wage + tips fails to equal minimum wage, the restaurant is required to supplement the difference. But several Abilene restaurants choose not to do this. They reason if waiters cannot make minimum wage with their tips, they must be doing something wrong.
That is false reasoning. Servers have one of the hardest jobs in Abilene, a town once known to have more churches than gas stations, where more than 15 percent of the population is below the poverty line.
Not all people can afford to tip, but most who do have the funds choose to refrain from such a common courtesy for the sake of saving pennies on the dollar.
I’ve heard unbelievable stories from several waiter friends concerning people on this very campus. Some well-known and respected administrators have left less than a dollar for a $40 bill or skipped the tip altogether. Most servers in Abilene are college students. They know the faces of deans, chairs of departments and professors. They work hard for their money; to be slapped in the face by someone they should respect is outrageous.
My uncle once told me a server does not deserve a tip if his glass is only half-filled when the bill comes. I’ve also been told waiters should not be tipped if it takes them 30 minutes to bring the food, it’s the wrong order or the food is cold. Personally, I disagree on all bases. A customer knows when a server is purposely being rude, but such behavior is actually rather rare. Most waiters know who pays their wages; they would not purposely spoil a meal to make their own wallets suffer.
My personal observations lead me to think most servers have no control over the quality and timing of the food. I’ve had my waiter friends tell me about days where the cooks ignore the orders or take their time. Cooks are people too. They are not perfect and have bad days. Sometimes it is so frustrating for waiters to know that with every passing minute their tips are slipping away that they actually may make a customer’s salad or dessert themselves. Don’t punish a server for a slow cook, packed restaurant or really busy day.
So remember when you’re enjoying a fun night out with family and friends over the holidays, don’t skimp on the tip because your server may need a few extra dollars too.