Waiters lose when we don’t tip, they only earn $2.25/hr

Do you leave a tip when you finish your meal at a local restaurant? Some do, and some don’t, but those who eat and leave no tip are forcing the waiter and the busboy to serve them and clean up after them for free!

The common understanding of a “tip” is a gratuity given to a waiter for extraordinary service. Customers assume that the waiter is earning the minimum wage or above and their “tip” is a little something extra. If the waiter did not suck up enough; they leave no tip.

There is a strange set of laws in the United States that forces most employers to pay regular employees at least $7.25 cents an hour for their labor. That applies to most labor-intensive jobs except waiters in restaurants.

Federal labor laws allow restaurant owners to guarantee waiters only $2.13 an hour (some states allow $2.25). The restaurant counts on the waiter to jump, run, smile, giggle, laugh at corny jokes and patronize customers to get at least $5.12 an hour in tips, so they can earn the minimum wage.

If you leave a $5.12 tip on the table and you are the only customer that hour, your tip is used to pay the waiter for that hour. Combined with the owner’s $2.13 you helped pay the minimum wage of the waiter. The restaurant owner only paid $2.13. If you leave no tip, and you were the only customer that hour, then the waiter lost and will have to double up on tips by getting other customers to leave bigger tips to cover what they lost on you; they have to double up to break even.

At the end of an 8-hour shift, the owner subtracts $58 from any tips earned (minimum wage for a day), and the rest is the actual tip the waiter received. If the waiter earned $60 minus the $58, they actually made $2 in tips.

The waiter is expected to generate enough tips to pay their daily wage. Some restaurants will find excuses to dismiss a waiter if he/she can’t average at least $58 a day in tips. Why? Because the law requires the business to make up the difference. A waiter who only reports $10 in tips requires the employer to pay the other $48. Without an improvement, that waiter will be dismissed for some corny reason, usually tardy, attitude, absentees, or any reason except the real reason.

Some local restaurants have even stranger arrangements that require the waiter to split the tip with the busboy (table cleaner) even if the customer left no tip (the company averages what the tip should have been and charges the busboy’s part to the waiter’s total.)

In the case above, the waiter will have to split the $2 earned with the busboy, meaning he/she would only receive $1 extra for the day.

There are some restaurants where customers tip well. Some waiters and busboys may earn $200 a day in tips or more. However, customers should remember that the first $58 of tips just covers the minimum wage requirements for the day. If there is a busboy split, a waiter that earns $100 a day in tips only really takes home $21 above minimum wage for the day.

If we eat and leave without a tip, it actually costs the waiter who has to split the tip we didn’t leave with the busboy.

One Saturday night I ate a late supper at about 2 a.m. A large crowd of youth crowded the diner and ordered fries, steak, eggs and a whole mess of food. They filled about six tables, and the loud and intoxicated group constantly called on the waiter for more water, coffee, and services including cleanups after spills. When they left almost two hours later, the tables resembled a war zone; then I saw the look of grief on the waitress’ face. They left no tip.

Two hours of work and no tip.

Since I worked as a waiter during my college years, I know what it’s like to skin and grin, flatter a customer’s looks, laugh at bad jokes, and amuse patrons and after the whole “Need some more water?” routine, get no tip.

How much should you tip? A $10 meal requires a $2.00 tip (20%). Don’t insult the waitress with less than $2.00.

It’s unfair that the food service industry is allowed to force their waiters to shuffle, beg and scramble to earn their wage while other employment areas are not treated the same.

What’s fair? The restaurant should increase the price of the meal, pay the employee a regular wage, and let them carry their tips home, no splits or deductions. That’s fair.

Unfortunately, life is not fair. The industry will continue to use these valuable workers and pay them $2.13 ($2.25). Also, many patrons will continue to eat their meals and walk out without leaving a tip.

It’s just another way that the poor are thoughtlessly trampled upon by those who could care less.