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.