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Take A Tip - Don't Tip

Most people in my social circle can rarely afford to gad about the town in taxi cabs – they charge exorbitant fees and anyway, the drivers are usually failed chavs for whom two million years of human evolution was merely a rumour. So why then do so many gullible fools, after they have handed over their wages to these thugs, supplement this extortion with an additional fee known as a ‘tip’? The same strange convention occurs in cafes and restaurants. At the end of their meal, many members of the public, who evidently possess a superfluity of cash that is inversely proportional to their intelligence quotient, dispense an extra cash payment for the benefit of the waiters or waitresses who have served them.

Now, let us understand one fact from the start: waiters, waitresses, hotel porters and doormen are paid wages to perform various duties that constitute their jobs. I am under no obligation to supplement their wages. I am not a charity – I have to pay value added tax like everyone else outside the government. I work for a patients council in a London psychiatric hospital. That is my job, a job I volunteered to undertake on condition that I receive a monthly salary. When I write letters to ward managers and doctors on behalf of patients, I do not expect each patient to hand over a few coins every time I execute the duties for which I am paid. You may assume that I have no right to expect patients to donate gratuities to me – you would of course be perfectly correct in your assumption.

This is the problem, you see? It is virtually taken for granted that we should offer up a financial reward to a waiter in a restaurant yet we are never expected to offer the same charity to the young chap who serves us a hamburger in a McDonalds bar. Where is the logic in this system of exchange? Both establishments serve food and drinks. Admittedly, the offal served in McDonalds bars will give you cancer and liver problems but that is hardly the fault of the minions whose unfortunate job it is to present this vile gruel to the public. Anyone stupid enough to pay money to be poisoned by such fare in a McDonalds deserves every aspirin inducing moment they endure. There’s more: waiters and waitresses in posh restaurants are paid far higher wages than the poor saps employed in McDonalds bars so if you really must relinquish your dignity and convert yourself into a charity, surely you ought to give tips to the proles in the happy hats rather than the flunkies in frocks and bowties.

However, every time I refuse to pay a gratuity to a worker, I perform a valuable service myself. In America , there is a whole series of social conventions that govern who is given gratuities and a sliding scale of rates dependent on the profession in receipt of this charity. In restaurants, it is assumed that if your tip will be approximately 10% of the cost of your meal. Now, if you order a £50 bottle of Meudon champagne (because you’re a typical local councillor who uses rent payments from council tenants to support your expensive habits) and I order a £1 bottle of Sing Tao lager (because I’m a proletarian hero and don’t you forget it, mate), the waiter does not have to work any harder to bring you your bottle of bubbly – the energy and effort he is required to expend to serve you a £50 bottle of champagne is the same as that required to serve me my £1 bottle of Chinese lager so why should you feel obliged to dispense a higher tip than what I would be expected to offer?

In America , there are actually companies who deliberately pay certain workers a menial sum on the assumption that this pittance will always be supplemented by members of the general public whose gratuity payments will in turn increase their weekly allowance into something approaching a decent wage. This means that every time you tip such workers, you encourage the company bosses to continue paying inadequate wages to their staff. If workers require charitable donations from the public in order to subsist then the companies for which such staff work have no right to employ anybody. Therefore, every time you hand over a tip to a menial worker you perpetuate the exploitation of a disadvantaged group of human beings by a wealthy, avaricious elite who continue to accrue their wealth through this exploitation since they are allowed to deliberately capitalise on your misplaced sense of charity.

So take a tip from me – never give tips. I don’t.

Andy Martin © 2009.




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