When should we tip?

Evelyn Krupicka, Correspondent

We’ve all grown up knowing that when we go out to eat, we leave money on the table for the waiter. And we’ve all been disgusted when a “Karen” tips poorly. But should restaurants such as Molly’s Cupcakes receive tips when all they’re doing is pulling a cupcake off a shelf? 


Where does the American tradition of tipping come from?

This tradition originates to the post-American Civil War time period in the 19th century. When Americans traveled overseas, they learned about the European tradition of tipping and brought it back with them to make themselves seem more “upper-class.” Business owners used this new ideas to not pay African Americans in the expectation that the tips would be their wage.

In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act determined that the minimum wage of tipped workers plus the tips should add up to the federal minimum wage. This means that the actual minimum wage of tipped workers is less than the federal minimum wage. As of Jan. 1, 2019, the federal minimum wage of tipped workers is $2.13, while the federal minimum wage is $7.25, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In Illinois specifically, the tipped minimum wage is $4.95, while the overall minimum wage is $8.25. 


When and where should we tip? 

A good rule of thumb is if an employee is serving you in some way, leave a tip. The places people typically think of are sit-down restaurants. For a sit-down place, a normal tip amount is 15 to 20 percent of the check before tax. Anything under 15 percent is considered rude, but the tip should reflect the quality of service. 

In many places, workers are paid less in the expectation that customers would tip, bringing with the expectation of a tip. Many would argue that tips provide an incentive for better work. However, that is not always the case. Often, waiters cannot control how much their customers would tip. Sometimes people are just in a crummy mood or are feeling stingy and nothing that the waiters do can change that. 

Places where someone makes your food as you order do not necessarily need the same amount of tips, but it is a nice gesture. For example, this may be a place like a coffee shop or ice cream place. A good practice for finding the right tip amount can be easily implemented when you pay in cash. When the cashier hands you your change back, place the coins and/or dollar bills in the tip jar. Your pennies might not seem like much, but they are appreciated and reflect well on your character. 

The one type of food place where you don’t have to tip is at a fast food restaurant where you food isn’t made to order. If someone is just grabbing a ready-made cupcake or burger, a tip isn’t necessarily warranted. 

Tipping is not solely for food services. If someone performs a service for you, such as a hairdresser, or a hotel maid, $5 per haircut/night is a customary amount. This isn’t a set amount, for the higher-end the service, the higher you should tip. 

However, places such as Uber and Lyft actually take the tip out of the driver’s paycheck, so any tip would not add anything for the driver. If you are ever unsure, either google it or leave a tip anyways. 


Why should you tip?

No one likes a poor tipper. If people know you’re a regular at a place and you don’t tip when you should, you would be a lower priority than someone who tips better. On the other hand, if the workers know that you are a good tipper, they will make sure your order is accurate and fast and will take extra care to treat you special. 

I’m going to be real honest with you here. If you are scoffing at the idea of tipping, I am glaring at you through your computer screen. People who are doing you services normally work hard at their job to ensure that the customer gets the best service. They don’t get paid a lot and honestly, after a long hard day, a good tip really brightens everything up. 

I don’t care if you think that these people are “unskilled” workers. These normally only get paid minimum wage and they are humans that deserve the same amount of respect that you would show anyone else. Often they are working towards something, whether it be college, a new house, etc. A tip is often one of the nicest things you can do for a worker. 

Don’t be a Karen. Just tip.