A New Trend In Verbal Tips?

My last post was a sort of mini-essay about Verbal Tips.

It didn’t start out that way. As I said in the post, verbal tips are such an entrenched aspect of food serving, experienced waiters hardly give it thought anymore. It’s like seeing naked breasts on a Cinemax movie. You’re there on the couch, Cinemax is on, there are the naked breasts . . . you wonder, ‘What’s on HBO?’

It’s like that with verbal tips. You don’t not notice them, but you hardly dwell on it.

The reason I wrote on the subject in the first place was because I thought I had detected a new trend in the verbal tipping subculture.

    ‘Thank you for your service . . .’

This was a few days ago. It came from an obviously well-to-do gentleman in his 60s. The party ordered well, had good wine, were well-behaved – in general they acted like the veteran pro athlete in the end zone: they’d been there before and didn’t need to show off.

So the old man accepts the check presenter with charge voucher. I thank him again, using my most sincerest Thank You. (For one, this was a great table and they deserve it. For two, this was a great table $$$-wise and I need to impress as much as possible.) And then he says it in a clear, direct voice that underscores he really understands this has been very good service:

    ‘Thank you for your service . . .’

Well I’d heard this phrase, more or less, two other times in the last couple weeks. In fact, I had gotten poor tips on those other occasions. But I was still comfortable because this guy was . . . he was just the type, the class, of the demeanor of person who was a 20% tipper. Further, some people do adhere to the Ultimate Rule of Verbal Tips (linked again, sorry, but if you’re lazy, check the 2nd to last paragraph). And he definitely seemed like that guy.

Tip? Sorry, Waiternotes. 12%.

So, to cut to the Check Drop, I think the recent poor economy has created a new breed of verbal tippers. People who used to be good tippers are adopting the policy. They can’t shake the good foundations of humanity they (used to) have, so they have created their own catchphrase.

The meaning is slightly different (but the result is the same) from classic verbal tippers. What these guys are saying now is:

‘Thank you for your service. You have been worthy of the 20% gratuity I used to pay. Times are different now, though. I am no longer paying 20%. In recognition of this fact, I am sending you the coded message that it’s not your fault, but you are getting less. (Maybe things will change in the future.)’

So what do you do? Nothing at all.

I can write about it in my blog, however.


2 thoughts on “A New Trend In Verbal Tips?

  1. SkippyMom Mon, June 8, 2009 / 7:58 am

    Very well said [as usual]! I still am of the thought that if you can’t afford the tip don’t eat out, but I guess they are so accustomed to eating out that they don’t want to sacrifice their quality meal/wine so they have to find a place to mitigate the cost.

    That is just sad. Especially for a regular that knows what a meal at your establishment costs/on average.

    I know our favorite place to go [b/c we are guaranteed great service, tasty & hot food] we will need at least $100. Apps, dinner and a drink or two will cost around $70.00 and then I want the leeway to tip 30% or better. If we don’t have that kind of money – then we don’t go.

    Which brings me to an interesting question for you – because it just occured to me. We eat out less now and therefore aren’t spending our money at this particular restaurant that we used to frequent. Since we have established a base of our tipping [and yes, it is 30% or better – they are that good] we have avoided going because we don’t have the $100. How much am I hurting the restaurant and the waitstaff by not going as frequently – would it be better to go, order less expensive apps/entrees/drinks and tip 20% instead?

    Which do you think the restaurant would prefer? I know this is going to bug me all day…lol..because it really DID just occur to me.

  2. waiterextraordinaire Mon, June 8, 2009 / 7:44 pm

    Yes the infamous handshake is the kiss of death for the lacklustre tip I am about to receive.

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