For today’s American Culture and History lesson, we’re going to learn about the Culture and Practice of Tipping in the U.S..
We’re going to be talking about tipping and we’ll start by talking about where tipping culture came from and then we’ll move on to how to tip properly so that you don’t feel uncomfortable when you’re in a restaurant or when you’re getting any kind of service done. So I’d like to start with a story though, a personal one.
About seven years ago, I was at a rooftop party in Brooklyn, New York and I met a really fun group of people from Europe. And after the event, we all decided as a group to go to another location, but on the way we stopped at a pizzeria, a pizza restaurant. The restaurant was closing up for the night, but the owner was really nice and decided to stay open to make us some pizzas. So we went inside, grabbed a table and when we were done eating we split the tab evenly. We split the bill. We divided the check equally among us. One guy in the group was chosen to leave the tip. After we had paid and started walking down the street, the waitress who had served us came out screaming. She was throwing out f bombs, right, saying the F word within all of the swearing I heard her say, "we stayed open for you and you left a 50 cent tip? Are you f**ing kidding me?"
And I felt so awkward. The guy that paid the 50 cent tip felt incredibly awkward. It was horrible. And I remember thinking OK, I am the American in this group, I’m going to take one for the team and so I went back and paid, I don’t know like 8 bucks or 10 bucks, whatever it was, directly to that waitress.
And yeah I know she was overreacting, but for a quick second, I thought maybe it’s for a legitimate reason, maybe she needed the money to pay for her food or for her rent. I don’t know.
Anyway, she took the money and then as I was walking away I asked myself: Am I supplying a huge portion of this person’s salary? If so, why am I as the customer deciding how much this person makes? Shouldn’t the restaurant owner be in charge of this?
The rest of this text, including annotations, can be found in the American Culture and History Course (Part 2). See below.
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You can access this lesson with Season 2 (episodes 051-100) or get All Premium Content (Seasons 1 – 3).