After nearly 6 months in USA, I still can’t get used to the tipping culture in USA. Or rather, the reason why I couldn’t get used to it is because I really do not agree with it.
In Singapore, there is no tipping culture, but rather we have a fixed and mandatory service charge in the bill. Naturally it is also annoying, but at least it is fixed, and if I want to choose to dine outside, it is something I have to be prepared for. And it is a fixed sum which I can easily calculate by myself when I dine outside. The more expensive the meal, the higher the service charge cos it is a percentage of the total cost. After my meal, I simply pay the bill which includes the fixed service charge, and that’s it. I do not have to “worry” if I tip too little? Or did I overtip? Or whether the server would think I am an ultimate cheapskate? Basically, I will not have to agonise over such ridiculous worries.
But over here, I worry. Maybe cos I am someone who has always been quite self-conscious about how others think of me. And I am loserish enough to actually care about how restaurant staff see me too.
After about 2 months of being indignant with parting with my 15%-20% tip when I dine outside, I have slowly accepted it as the way of life. Though I still don’t understand why I must tip even when all the waiter did was bring me my dish which is part of his job scope. I understand that customers have this “responsibility” to pay because these staff are paid a really low wage with the expectation that their tips will make up for their loss in income. But then again, is it my fault that the system is such that employers pay these staff lowly?
Why must I feel “forced” to help these employers pay the salary to their staff?
Ok. So be it. I have reluctantly accepted that this is the way of life here.I tell myself that I am using the space in the restaurant, and the waiter did walk that short distance from the kitchen to my table to pass me the food, and stopped by once to ask me “how is everything”? So I guess I can say I am paying for the service.
But why should I tip for food delivery?! When no waiter is serving me!
Many times when I order food from Grubhub or Eat24, the bill will automatically add in a 20% tip for me. Thing is, is the tip for the delivery man? Is the tip for the restaurant?
If it is for the restaurant, why do they get the same 20% tip, when no one is serving me and I am not taking up any space in the restaurant, and no one needs to clear my plates?
If it is for the delivery man, hmm I thought I paid for the delivery fee?
Even if it is for the delivery man, which is more reasonable given that he did bring my piping hot food to me, the thing is, the delivery man still seem to expect tips from me when I collect the food from him. So I still have to tip. So if I add the tip to the delivery man in person, the tip I pay online (to duno who), and the delivery fee. It is indeed a very very expensive meal!
Argh. Yesterday I ordered Thai food which amounted to about 31 dollars. And when the delivery man came, I passed him 3 dollars. And he looked at me with a disgruntled look , counted the bills in front of me and asked me “How much is your food?”. I said , “Um, 31 dollars?” Somehow I already felt small though I really dont think I did anything wrong. Then he counted the bills again. And he walked away. And I am left feeling indignant yet slightly ashamed. The thing is , everytime I order delivery, I actually google news articles and blogs whereby people discuss about tipping etiquette. And everytime I actually try to adhere to what is the social norm in USA though I might not agree with it.
Even so, I still often feel like I have done something wrong. Technically a tip should be an incentive to express gratitude? for good service. It is not mandatory. If it is mandatory it should be fixed in the bill. But why is it that everyone here in the service line seem to DEMAND for it?
And this is exactly what I hate.
To be DEMANDED money.
Which is why I really really dislike the tipping culture here. Cos I still dont see what is reasonable or good about it. Except for the fact that it is the expected way of life here.
I will just continue cooking my not super tasty but decent food at home.