Saturday, October 9, 2004

Utahns are bad tippers. STOP THAT!

Published October 9, 2004
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

This winter, I will have lived in Utah for the past nine years. As many know, I count myself a Texan, through and through. The truth? I only lived in Texas for five years.

Considering the facts, I guess I should be calling myself a Utahn now. There are worse things in life. Utahns are renowned for their friendliness, work ethic, and their flair for landscaping. Unfortunately, Utahns are also known for something with which I can never align.

Utahns are terrible, awful, very bad tippers.

To be fair, I'm not saying that all Utahns are the worst tippers in the world. But, it is a fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, that servers in restaurants in Utah make an average of $1300 less per year than their counterparts in other states, and much of that discrepancy can be traced directly to tips.

Utah, I ask you, WHY? Why would you want to go down in history as a state full of bad tippers? I know you pride yourselves on being a peculiar people, but really, there are other ways of doing that. We' ve got Osmonds! We've got the birthrate! We've got green jello in the bag! Leave bad tipping to someone else!

 In my quest to learn the reason for this low tip phenomenon, I came across a few, ahem, interesting justifications. Some restaurant patrons feel the onus is on the restaurant owner to pay servers a decent wage, so they don't have to "subsidize" that income. Give me a break!

This is how it works. You eat in a leave a tip. Every time I pass a table vacated by a party of 8 and see a measly couple of bucks left for the server, I can't help but subsidize YOUR lousy tip with a few bucks of my own. I've got a family to feed! Have a heart!

Other bad tippers take a religious exemption. Declaring they won't pay a server more than they pay the Lord, many Utahns pay a "tithing tip" of ten percent. I can almost understand this one, being a tithe payer myself. And then I realize that I pay 20% of my income in rent, close to 40% of my income in various taxes, and 12% of my income on insurance. Not to speak for Him, but I don't think the Lord feels shafted. Render unto God what is God's. Render unto your server what is your server's (in other words, no less than 15-20% of the bill).

Still other tip skippers use a lack of good service as their rationalization for stiffing hardworking servers. I've had bad service in Utah restaurants, so I know it exists. But come on, folks! "The server used the word 'guys' when addressing us," is NOT bad service. It's Southern Utah. If you want to be referred to as "Sir and Madam," go to New York. While you're here, get over it and pony up.

Finally, a word on buffets: Buffet servers are paid $2.15 per hour. That's the exact same wage servers are paid in full service restaurants. If you think buffet servers, who refill your drinks, bus your table, and bring you a never ending supply of clean plates, are not worthy of a full tip, may your food rot in your stomach and cause debilitating gas for the rest of your bad tipping days.

At least then, the server will know you're not going to tip and she'll serve you accordingly.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Published May 22, 2004
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Every now and then, I use my column as an opportunity for self-improvement by confessing to a personality trait of which I'm not completely proud. This is one of those columns. It won't be easy, but I've got to do what I've got to do. Here goes.....

Ladies and gentlemen, I am a know-it-all.

I say know-it-all, though I know very well that I don't know it ALL. Who could? I'm just secure in the knowledge I do have and am willing to debate it and back it up. I really wish the expression were more like, "know a lot about a few, particular subjects." It would take the edge off, anyway.

The negative connotation behind the figure of speech really has more to do with the attitude of the knowledgeable person than the actual knowledge. No one likes to be contradicted, given unsolicited advice, or made to look intellectually inferior. As a reformed contradictory, superior, advice giver, I've learned this to be all too true. And as the daughter of a know-it-all, I realized I already knew that, anyway (Sorry mom, but we're one of a kind).

The good news is that I've found a place where my knowledge can be given freely and appreciated, for the most part. Southern Utah, the internet is a know-it-all's dream come true.

Just tonight, I held court at my favorite bulletin boards, handing out such tidbits of wisdom as the use of papaya for heartburn relief, a few midwives' tricks for lowering blood pressure, food sources of absorbable iron, and my thoughts on when induction of labor is really necessary. People were blessed with my knowledge, and I got a much needed know-it-all fix.

Lest you think my advice unsolicited, I will say that all my facts were given in response to pleas for exactly that advice. I used phrases like, "in my experience," and, "for me," so as to appear as, uh, unsuperior as possible. I did contradict someone on a thread about ginger use in pregnancy, but blatant ignorance just can't be ignored!

The great thing about the internet is that it's not just a place for me to share my knowledge, but to gain knowledge, as well. So even though I don't actually know it "all," with a few clicks on my mouse, I can "know-it-more and more and more!" And with a wealth of people seeking all sorts of advice, I can type away to my heart's content as if I knew it all along.

After rereading this column, I'm realizing I seem more proud of my know-it-all status than repentant. I don't think I've improved myself at all. Now I feel really bad! Something must be done!

Next week's topic: Living in my sins and loving them too much.