One day I went to a restaurant/bar that my sister worked at in college. She was just paying her way, and I really just showed up because I didn’t have much anything better to do after work and it didn’t make sense to drive home if I was just going to have to drive back out again to pick her up. So I ordered a beer and told her to bring the check with her. Under the gratuity tab I wrote:
This is my review of Brasserie Caracoule Nostradamus Belgian Brown Ale
Earlier this summer, this article from Politico ruffled a few feathers. It is an editorial discusing a piece of legislation that will not only raise the nation minimum wage to $15, it also contains a provision that will eliminate tipping.
There’s another provision in the legislation—eliminating the subminimum tipped wage—that corrects a wrong that goes much further back than the previous federal minimum wage increase. For workers regularly making more than $30 a month in tips, employers can currently pay as little as $2.13 an hour. That subminimum wage has been frozen at this level for decades. Should the Raise the Wage Act pass the House, it will mark the first time that either chamber of Congress has moved to eliminate the subminimum wage, which not only deepens economic inequalities but also happens to be a relic of slavery.
I suppose that makes it problematic the most racist president in American History happens to carry a bunch of $20’s in his back pocket specifically for tips–and it is. He is supposedly a billionaire, I expect $100’s. Chances are pretty good he made a fortune in the hospitality industry and knows those workers are often motivated to work hard if he tips well.
Is the United States emblematic of it’s underlying racism by perpetuating a tipping culture in the services industry? Lets check in with the supposed most perfect country of them all, and an actual racist country and see if there is a tipping culture there…I guess they showed me. Or did they? Chances are the most reasonable explanation for such a disparity between these two countries is—its complicated. After all, in Japan tipping is considered rude.
Here’s my problem: I happen to be a person of color, and while I have experienced casual racism on occasion nobody is lynching me. From the “inherently racist society” standpoint, sometimes somebody will say something stupid. To be honest all it really tells me is that person is an idiot, if all they are doing is saying stupid things there is no sense in letting that affect my mood. From the “inherently racist society therefore racist government” standpoint, some Janet Reno type is not sending anybody to kick down my door, and take me back to where I came from. Yes, immigration raids are a thing, but given that I’m a natural born citizen that’s not really a concern for me. Besides, that’s more a symptom of a our quasi-eunuch culture that practically begs for an enormous overbearing bureaucracy to step in, and make things all better…
The worst I normally experience is from other Mexicans, who assume I primarily speak Spanish based entirely on appearances. Let’s face it, if I put on a Panama Hat, tuck in a collared shirt, and walk around a bit somebody is going to ask if I need hands on my hacienda. Its a look I pull off.
That said, the only way we can fix this is for some to recognize society has moved on from sins of the past. Was it bad? Absolutely. Is it a custom with roots in an unsavory part of history? Okay fine, yes. Is it a custom that continues to be justified by this unsavory history? No, it absolutely is not. We tip because we know some occupations do not make a particularly affluent living, but it is a living because the expectation is the service they provide can be rewarded IF it is exemplary. Failure to provide said service in even an acceptable manner, will result in the employer to fire said employee because that service is not particularly difficult and a replacement is easily found.
People making this argument against tipping culture, conveniently forget the owner of the establishment also loses if the service is bad. The food may be fantastic, but it doesn’t do anybody any good if I am staring at my empty water glass because I am not presently eating that fantastic meal. If I should leave, nobody gets paid and the owner is stuck with the cost of the unserved food. Repeat this process for a year and none of the servers and the owner are without work—because the restaurant is out of business. But servers in Europe are paid without tips… In my experience, the service and food in France sucked, the service in England and Ireland was good even if the food also sucked. Guess which countries I was expected to tip?
Want people to move on from our racist past? Stop trying to scour every single aspect of culture and society in an attempt to root out a nearly extinct boogeyman. The rest of us moved on, perhaps you should too.
Is this beer any good? Hell yeah it is. It is similar to red label Chimay but does not bear the Trappist mark for those that prefer Catholics not fly their freak flag. Not quite as good. What? Did you think I was going to yammer on about Nostradamus?
In the year the emperor’s robe turns ablaze. Drink will spill. The libation bearing my name, flows to enhance the good times they will.
How is that? Brasserie Caracoule Nostradamus Belgian Brown Ale 3.8/5
*Relax, I had $2 in cash on hand and left it on the table. Not enough to pay for the beer, but plenty for a tip. Why wouldn’t I tip my own sister?