In the United States today, there’s an expectation to leave a generous tip regardless of the service. However, this usually baffles outsiders. Why do so many American workers heavily rely on tips instead of getting a steady, livable wage paid by the establishment? Call it a systematic practice or the backbone of the service culture, it’s still an unsolved mystery many of us cannot wrap our heads around.
But while businesses offload the burden of giving workers a fair paycheck to the customers, employees are often the ones who pay the price. And a recent post on the Anti Work subreddit is a perfect example of how big of a toll this approach has on them. Redditor ShaolinJohn, who works security at an office in Dallas, Texas, opened up about an encounter with a struggling Pizza Hut delivery driver he had a few nights ago.
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You see, the worker couldn’t hold back her excitement about a giant $938 order she was about to deliver and the tip that would possibly follow. “It’s hard out there,” the mother-of-two told the user as she carried dozens of boxes onto the elevator. But when she came down, both her excitement and hopes of putting some extra cash in her pocket were gone. Read on for the story and the heated discussion that followed, and be sure to share your own takes on the tipping conundrum in the comments.
Recently, an excited Pizza Hut delivery driver was let down by a corporate party who gave her a $20 tip for a giant $938 order
Image credits: Mike Jones (not the actual photo)
After feeling her disappointment, the author of the story decided to lend a helping hand
Image credits: KoolShooters (not the actual photo)
Bored Panda reached out to ShaolinJohn who was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the incident. The user explained that he shared the story on the Anti Work subreddit because he knows it to be a place “for shining lights on the injustices of the current state of how workers are treated.”
“I was pretty shocked at how quickly it happened to blow up,” he told us. “I also didn’t realize how much of a hot button topic tipping is.” ShaolinJohn pointed out that the main reason this post resonated with many customers and employees is simply that “the service industry is enormous. Everyone is a customer to something related to the service industry.”
When asked about the tipping culture in the US, the user told us, “[It] is one of the biggest scams against low-wage workers in the country. It’s exploitative and is only kept in place by companies as a way to keep labor costs way down by having the customer be the primary source of a worker’s income.” But the problem is, ShaolinJohn noted, tipping isn’t mandatory. “The worker is reliant on the customer feeling generous at that moment. There is no feeling of security as you never know what the whims of a customer are going to be.”
While 15% to 20% is a typical tip for servers and bartenders (although now 25% might be the new 20%), there is quite a debate as to the appropriate amount of gratitude to a delivery driver. Brett Helling, founder of Ridester, stated that tipping the driver varies widely depending on the items you’re ordering, the platform you’re using, and what happens during the delivery.
But here’s the thing — most drivers’ wages are very much dependent on tips. “[Drivers] are often classified as self-employed, they’re responsible for all their own expenses, sometimes while just making or making under their local minimum hourly wage before gratuity,” Helling wrote. “Due to this, standard tipping etiquette calls for you to tip at least 15% — just as you would a traditional pizza delivery driver, a restaurant server, or even a Lyft or Uber driver.”
Later on, the user added some more information and clarified a few details in the post
ShaolinJohn revealed that he worked as a waiter for a few years before entering the workforce. “So, I understand the plight of the people in the service industry. This means I don’t have a problem leaving a good tip regardless of service. Fantastic service gets even more from me.” Unfortunately, the user pointed out that there will always be people who don’t believe in tipping “or don’t know that a waiter at a restaurant is only making $2.13 an hour and really needs the tips to get by.”
With inflation hitting a 40-year high and pinching their pockets, signs that Americans will become better tippers are slightly fading. According to a recent survey of 2,610 adults conducted by CreditCards.com, the number of people who always tip fell from 77% in 2019 to 73% in 2022. Moreover, 4% said they never tip. “Inflation is cutting into consumers’ purchasing power and a tight labor market has left many service industry businesses understaffed and struggling to provide top-notch customer experiences,” said senior industry analyst Ted Rossman. He added that the promise one-third of Americans made to be better tippers in 2021 has apparently worn off.
We were curious to hear ShaolinJohn’s take on what could be done to change this tipping practice to favor the workers and make them feel safer about their income. He told us, “Ideally, the whole system of tipping would be tossed out because companies would pay their workers a livable wage. Or maybe a step before that dramatic change would be for companies to add automatic gratuity onto the bills.”
When it comes to the delivery business, he explained that companies should stop pocketing the ‘delivery fee’ and actually give it to the driver. “I know that one causes a lot of delivery drivers to lose out on tips because people think the delivery fee is for the driver but it’s not,” the user said.
“Even though tipping culture is a scam, until a drastic and immediate change is able to happen, tip your service industry workers. And for those people that justify not tipping because ‘they should just go get a better job,’ stay home and cook for yourself or go pick up your own food instead of having it delivered. Some people have to take [low-paying] jobs due to circumstances we have no idea about. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to earn a living. Even if it is based on our tips,” ShaolinJohn concluded.
The story has caused quite the stir in the Anti Work community, here’s what people had to say
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