Tip Tip… Hooray?
Abbie Riglin, Photo Editor
Let’s paint a picture: you’ve decided to go out to dinner. Maybe you’re celebrating or just meeting up with a friend. You sit down, order a $14 drink (ouch, guess it’s just one tonight), maybe decide to split a $10 appetizer, and carefully pick out your $20 main course that you’re hoping will be enough to include a doggy bag. At this point you’ve racked up close to a $50 meal and the only thing that might be saving you is the fact that you have never really been a dessert person.
The meal is wonderful, the service exceptional, and you ask the waiter for the bill. They bring it out diligently and place the card reader next to it. The sweating has started.
Maybe it’s a little more than you were hoping to spend but at least you decided to split the bill with your friend (chivalry and kindness died as inflation rose). You go through the prompts. Purchase, OK? Not really but do you have a choice at this point? Next up is the tip. You have to do 20 per cent. The waiter picked up your fork off the ground and you can feel their breath on your shoulder as they discretely watch you complete the transaction. And just like that an extra $10 is added to your meal.
If you’ve been out to a restaurant, or anywhere that offers a service at this point, you’ve probably experienced this phenomenon known as tipping. It’s one of those things that’s easy to hate, but easy to understand why it’s necessary.
A living wage is the hourly wage required to cover an individual’s expenses throughout the month. According to the Alberta Living Wage Network, the living wage required to live in Calgary is $22.40.
Currently, minimum wage in Alberta is $15 an hour, meaning many individuals working jobs within the customer service industry are making more than $7 under the living wage without tips, so for lots of workers, tips are what allows most to make ends meet.
Because of this, it makes sense why tipping is becoming popular everywhere you go, from cafes to restaurants to bars to fast food joints. But it also begs the question of why it has become the customers’ job to make sure that an employee is being properly compensated for their work.
Employers have made it so that customers are put in a spot where they have no choice but to tip. With the huge advance in card machines, businesses can now automatically prompt a gratuity or larger tipping options. It begs the question: is the experience the product, or the people serving you?
So, what’s the solution? Well, the obvious one is for corporations to pay more, and it’s not exactly wrong.
In the past year wages have risen by only 3.1 per cent according to Statistics Canada, half the official inflation rate of almost seven per cent. This answers the question of whether or not money is available to be able to increase wages, but instead this money lines the pockets of the already wealthy because, hey why not, the other people get tips!
As someone who works a minimum wage job, it’s frustrating. As someone who likes to be able to go out to dinner occasionally, it’s frustrating. There are places that have an actual living wage and have a lower tipping custom because of it, so it’s not like it can’t be done, but unfortunately it looks like tips might need their own category in the monthly budget for the foreseeable future.