There was a story in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning about employers in restaurants confiscating tips. It provides yet another reason to ban tipping.
Given the fact that staff in Australia are paid a good minimum wage and don’t have to live on their tips as they do in some other countries – most places in Australia actually pool all tips and divide them amongst all staff which is much fairer – the practice of tipping is a patronising hangover from the English and their class system.
The first tips were coins thrown by English nobles at serfs who held their horse, cleaned their boots and served their food. The fact that tipping has continued only in the hospitality industry in Australia although there was a time when for some ridiculous reason hairdressers were tipped as well and we have long given up tipping taxi-drivers, makes one question the point of it.
Does someone waiting on table deserve some extra money in a way that the supermarket checkout operator or the cleaner in your office block does not? And why not tip the doctor and the doctor’s receptionist as they do in the Third World? Why not tip everyone actually? Or more sensibly tip no-one!
Tips are thoroughly insulting in the First World where people should be paid a decent wage and not subjected to such humiliating patronisation nor such a desperate fear they won’t make enough in tips to manage.
The US system is the worst and heaven knows how people manage when they live on their tips and clearly have no way of planning any sort of budget week to week because they don’t know how much they will earn! It is quite simply shameful. Tipping is no more than legalised begging and when it exists in First World countries where people have no need, or should have no need to beg, it is unforgivable. And how humiliating and embarrassing and fear-making it must be for those people who have a job which pays only in tips.
In America in essence you pay the staff in restaurants and cafes and the hotel porters. In other words, you have the cost of these employees instead of the employer. It is ridiculous and it is unfair to the workers and the customers. The employers are doing very nicely indeed thankyou because Americans are stupid enough to put up with it.
I could never understand why in the States you had to tip the guy who got the bags out of the car; tip the guy who carried them into the hotel and then tip the guy who carried them up to the room! The end result was walking around with a pocketful of money to give to people who were in essence working in a job which amounted to ‘begging.’
But old habits die hard and when you travel around the world it is the Americans more than any who are throwing money around to everyone they come across in hotels, restaurants and cafes. And half of them are so obsessed with their largesse and how ‘good’ it makes them feel that they completely miss the fact that in the United Kingdom and many parts of Europe, there is a ‘gratuity’ included on the bill – found, on the bottom of the bill, in very small print – and so they are coughing up twice; double tipping which the locals love and which just makes them look like fools.
Thank goodness we have avoided the tipping disease in Australia in the main and maybe we can get rid of it completely. Sadly, when it comes to tipping at its worst the reality is that once again it is, only in America. The irony for Americans is how exploited they are living in a country they believe offers the greatest freedom of all. It doesn’t and probably never did. Let’s hope things change and even there people can be paid a living wage and work with self-respect and certainty. And let’s bear in mind that those who tip and don’t mind tipping are either so brainwashed about it they have never thought of what it really means, or they get such a kick out of acting and feeling superior, that they never bother to think about how it feels to the person on the receiving end. And I am talking First World not Third although even there the patronising and ego-trip factors are involved.