Whenever I have gone to a restaurant, it has never once occurred to me to leave a tip in the form of anything other than money because, frankly, that would be insane. The entire purpose of a tip is to pay someone’s salary, because in America, any employee that receives more than $30 a month in tips does not need to be paid a living wage. Tips are not bonuses for tip-top service; your server or bartender could be making a measly $2.13 an hour to take care of you, because that’s how the economy works. So why did America build its entire hospitality industry around such a barbarous labor practice? Slavery. And why has it continued using an archaic tipping system to compensate its workers? Because when restaurant owners have attempted to abolish tipping in favor of paying their employees a living wage, the general public flips the fuck out, and everybody needs to go back to begging for rent money. Always remember: whether you’re dining in-person or ordering delivery, a 20% tip is the minimum amount you should tip, because you—not the restaurant—are in charge of the wages. I’m sorry if you don’t like any of this. If you have a problem, call your senators.
That all being said, here is a list of very real things servers have received as “tips,” as shared to a Chicago hospitality industry Facebook group:
- a hair crimper
- a lap dance
- a choice between Jamaican money or American money
- an Oreo
- a winning scratch-off lotto ticket
- 3 eyeglass frames
- Conan tickets
- a link to a SoundCloud mixtape that “didn’t slap”
I want everyone to copy and paste this list into their Notes App, just in case you’re ever tempted to pay your pizza delivery guy with hair care products and can’t remember if it’s okay or not. Even if it’s a very nice crimper, it will not be appreciated. If it’s a tip that your landlord or credit card company will not accept as legal tender, you are doing it wrong and need to start again. If you have friends who do this, please sit them down and have a serious talk with them. Honestly I can’t believe any of this needs to be said, but I say that about a lot of things these days.
If you’re in the service industry, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever gotten as a tip?