A popular TikTok user kicked off another debate over tipping after he posted a video complaining that a hostess at a restaurant asked him to tip after he ordered out and went to pick up the food himself.
People often think of tipping as something reserved for people who provide a special service, such as waiters who bring your food to your table and keep your water glass full, or delivery drivers who take the food all the way to your house.
However, in recent years, as capitalists have been less and less willing to pay their employees a living wage as the cost of living has kept going up, more and more workers have been putting out a tip jar in desperation. Either that, or their bosses do it in order to quiet demands for better wages. Either way, it’s the everyday people who end up screwed.
“Not to sound like a total hater, but genuinely what the hell is going on with this whole iPad tipping thing?” says TikTok user Shawn. “Like, it has gotten so far out of hand it’s almost laughable.”
Shawn was a bit upset over the fact that even though he did the work of putting in the order on the restaurant’s website and drove to said restaurant to pick it up, he was still asked to leave a gratuity for the staff.
“I ordered it online, went to the website, put in what I wanted, sent out the order, then got into my car to pick it up. I get there. I give the girl my card to pay for my food; she puts it in, whatever. Then, all of a sudden, she spins that iPad around. I get whiplash, and she’s like, ‘Would you like to leave a tip?’ Girlfriend, for what? What did you do?”
Shawn argued that because the hostess allegedly made no effort in preparing and delivering his food, she doesn’t deserve a tip. However, some current and former hosts in the comments have pointed out that this is not entirely accurate.
Someone does, in fact, have to put the different parts of your meal into the appropriate containers, trying to keep things from getting soggy and changing temperature too much, as well as any utensils and condiments you might need into the bag. They also often make the salads and other simple sides while the kitchen is too busy making more complicated items.
While this might not sound like a lot of work, this is on top of the many other duties a restaurant host performs in order to keep everything running, while often not getting a share of the server tips. With the rise of exploitative food delivery apps, things like this have become a much more frequent part of a host’s job without extra pay. Additionally, in some restaurants, the servers end up doing this work even though they are sometimes paid less than minimum wage.
“There a bit more that goes in to processing your Togo order than you think,” noted one TikTok user.
Others have said that the tips for carry out orders in their workplaces don’t go to the iPad flipping lady at the front, but to the kitchen staff, which does all the labor in front of hot stoves and with pointy knives all day where you can’t see them without tips.
“For most restaurants and the one I work at all of the tips for carry out food goes to the kitchen staff that make your food,” explained another commenter.
Shawn, however, argues that he’s doing more work than the hostess who asked him for a tip and therefore should be getting paid himself.
“No, I’m actually going to flip this thing right back at you,” he says. “I will be taking a tip, 20% thanks. And once you’re done, grab me a shirt. I am clocking in because at this point I’m genuinely more of an employee at this establishment than you are and I would like to be compensated.”
Other TikTok users expressed their own frustrations with the expectation to tip in the comments, some complaining that they’ve been asked to do so for buying a bottle of water, a bag of dog food, a simple cup of coffee, or self-serve frozen yogurt.
“No, but the expectation of tips for doing NOTHING is getting so out of hand,” wrote one commenter. “I’m already paying too much for this coffee.”
The truth is that while tipping originally began as an agreement between servers and customers as a bribe for good service, business owners soon seized upon the opportunity to pay their workers less and foist the rest of a living wage onto customers. Today, workers beg for tips because every extra dollar is a tiny bit more breathing room between them and the crushing weight of rent and bills.
People’s ire should instead be directed at the millionaire and billionaire CEOs running many of these establishments who are pulling out all the tricks to keep wages down even as their profits increase yearly. But until something is done about that, it might be best to ditch the mindset that tipping has anything to do with service, and give what you can to people who are very likely struggling to survive.
“I’m tipping more now than before covid!” said an enthusiastic user. “I’m just happy that some people are actually working at this point! Bonus $ for that these days!!!!”