Can I Just Tell You?

Can I Just Tell You?Can I Just Tell You?

NPR's Michel Martin gives a distinct take on news and issues

Waitresses Deserve Respect, And Tips

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For the past few months, intern Danielle Gerson has worked hard for Tell Me More — and we have appreciated her — but now she's leaving us to head out into the cold cruel world of job hunting. She's pretty sure that while she waits for the right opportunity, she'll be waiting tables... and she has a few choice words for how she'd like you to express your appreciation at that job.

Here's a true story. I was out to lunch recently and, to my horror, I actually witnessed a woman tip her server two pennies after an entire meal. That's right — two measly pennies.

Well, here's my two cents. If everyone tipped like that, no one would be serving your food.

A New York Times blogger recently discouraged people from robust tipping, pointing out that airline pilots don't ask for tips. But servers don't make what pilots make. In my state — that would be $2.83 per hour. As a recent graduate during this "great recession," rent and student loans rest heavy on my shoulders. That $2.83 an hour has often been my only option.

I've been serving since I was legally allowed to hold a tray and ask — with a smile, of course - "Would you like soup or salad with that?" I've paid my dues grinning at mothers whose toddlers secretly threw crayons across the room, hid pizza crust in flowers pots and littered the floor with hot dog remnants. Nothing builds character like dusting crumbs from your white table cloth and helping you tie that lobster bib around your neck. And while I've taken a hiatus from this ballroom dance of balancing trays and refilling wine glasses, many young people still depend on tips to survive.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 2.3 million people deliver our food wearing pearly white smiles to match their pressed white aprons. They hustle day in and day out — all in hopes that the friendly patron will generously pick up where their hourly wage left off.

Kindly tell me another weekend gig that a young woman in college can do to earn $200 bucks a night between biology on Friday and calculus on Monday.

And make sure it doesn't include stilettos and a brass pole.

"Oh, but I am a good tipper," you might be thinking.

Yes, maybe YOU are. There are some good tippers out there — the best I know have worked in the industry themselves, and they just get it.

But to those unabashed tippers who commit this crime on a recurring basis, those egregious tight-wads, those who have so obviously never suffered the weight of nine diet cokes — hold the ice — and six sippy cups of chocolate milk — all of which the server stirred to a chocolaty perfection — Yes. THIS is for YOU.

If you want your coffee to stay fresh and your filet delivered at a lovely pink-centered medium-rare, then please realize that the only person between you and that delicious hunk of steak is the server to whom you just left two crinkled dollar bills. After tipping out the bus boys and food runners, they're left with virtually nothing.

So, until you walk a mile in these battered, old, slip-proof shoes, please, THINK before you tip.



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Can I Just Tell You?

Can I Just Tell You?Can I Just Tell You?

NPR's Michel Martin gives a distinct take on news and issues

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