Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Are you a generous or miserly tipper?

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Greg Peck
Friday, April 4, 2014

Tipping has always been a topic that intrigues me. I sometimes feel guilty about how much I tip workers. I realize that many of the people who serve as waiters, bartenders and hotel maids are on the low end of the economic food chain.

My wife, Cheryl, sometimes teases me about having a squeaky wallet, a charge to which I object, although I do try to live on a reasonable budget. Still, I often tip a worker more generously than Cheryl would like.

Last Friday night, we went out for fish at our favorite spot, and the waitress was new to us. She could have been a high school student but more likely was a college student. She wasn't Johnny-on-the-spot. Our table also didn't have salt and pepper shakers, and we didn't realize that until our food arrived and then we had to wait while the waitress retrieved them. The plates of fried fish also were smaller than we normally see at this place. I couldn't fault the waitress, however, for either of these latter two issues.

Cheryl suggested a small tip. I still gave about 15 percent. Besides, I figured, if I gave a small tip without explaining, the waitress wouldn't know why and would just figure we were cheap. While some people argue 15 percent should be the minimum for reasonable service, I feel like a miser if I don't give more than that.

I also tip my barber, even though he owns the salon. However, I've never left a tip for a hotel maid, even though I've been tempted. Maybe that's unfair.

I'm bringing this up today because, each of the last two weeks, I've gotten tweets from the White House in the Obama administration's push to raise the minimum wage. These tweets point out that the minimum wage for tipped workers has been stuck at $2.13 for more than 20 years. They also show a pie chart that indicates women make up the wide majority of workers in some jobs, including hairdressers (95 percent), personal appearance workers (84 percent), massage therapists (76 percent), servers (70 percent) and bartenders (56 percent). Women make up almost three out of four tipped workers, jobs that tend to pay less than others, the tweets say.

Do these numbers sway you to be a more generous tipper or even convince you of the need for a higher minimum wage, particularly for workers in tipped jobs?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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