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Front Page » July 29, 2010 » Carbon County News » To tip, or not to tip? That is the question
Published 1,464 days ago

To tip, or not to tip? That is the question


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By KEVIN SCANNELL
Sun Advocate reporter

A family decides to head out to dinner. Greeted by a hostess they are led to a table. A waitress introduces herself and brings out their requested drinks and gives ample time for them to choose their meals. Every so often the waitress stops by the table to check up on things and see if there is anything else they might need. Eventually the family finishes the dinner and is ready to leave.

Meanwhile a man walks into a local business to get a haircut. He explains that he wants a little trim on the sides and some taken off the top. For the next 10 minutes he proceeds to sit back and let the professional do their job. With one last snip off the top and a final assessment of the job, the haircut is now complete.

So the time has finally arrived. The meal has been finished and the check is sitting on the edge of the table. The cosmetologist has finished the haircut and is cleaning up the chair. It's now decision making time.

The bill must be paid. But it's what comes along with the bill or is anticipated when the haircut is finished: the tip. Will a tip be given for the service? Will it be 10 or 15 percent? Will it only be what you have available in your wallet at the time? Or will no tip be given at all?

It's a topic too taboo for some in Carbon County to discuss openly. For those waiters, waitresses or cosmetologists, they fear by being named it could hurt their tips and turn away customers from their business. For residents in the community, being called cheap or a miser is not exactly something many people would embrace publicly.

Nonetheless the topic of tipping remains a big question mark around those involved in service industries where tipping is relied upon as income. Their hourly wages may be much lower than minimum wage because of the tips they receive while on the job. So to them while it's not a regularly discussed subject with their customers or patrons, it still flows through their minds as the person is getting ready to leave.

"We make about $3 per hour and I think many people out there don't realize that happens in this industry," said one local waitress, who declined to be identified. "Some tips are really good and some are really bad. Some days I have walked home with $20 and on good days you can walk away with over $100."

Working hard throughout the day making sure the customers are getting what they request and checking up often can be a difficult job for a waitress working multiple tables at a time, the waitress said. But that doesn't change the fact she likes what she does for a living. Meeting new people and hearing their stories is an interesting part of the job. But tipping varies from person to person, she said.

"I enjoy working as a waitress, it's lots of fun," she said. "On the average the tips are pretty good and very seldom have people not tipped me. But for some people it doesn't matter how hard you work, they won't tip at all."

For the cosmetologist, tipping works a little differently. There is nothing stating that a tip is required for the service, compared to using a credit card at a restaurant and seeing a line for a tip at the bottom of the bill. Cash is the preferred method of payment here. So instead of leaving money on the table for a waiter or waitress, the money is exchanged between the customer and the professional.

"Tips help out quite a bit. Everything helps out a lot especially when you don't make much to begin with," said a local cosmetologist, who declined to be identified.

The cosmetologist, who has been in the profession for 13 years, has seen over the years the different backgrounds of people who tip and those who don't.

"Doctors, dentists and lawyers don't tip very well at all," said the cosmetologist. "People like the coal miners and telephone guys - they tip way better than them."

When discussing Carbon County and tipping in general, the cosmetologist said in other places they have been, people seem to tip a lot more than people in Carbon County. Reasons for that include people being tighter with their money and not seeing the need to tip for a service, the cosmetologist said.

"Ten percent of the people around here are good at tipping but Carbon County in general doesn't tip well," they said. "Cheaper people are around here and they are tighter with their money. Everywhere else I've been people tip a lot better than they do here."

For customers, tipping is a touchy subject. They may go in for a meal or a haircut and wait to see the results of the service before deciding on a tip amount. Or they may follow a set pattern of giving a 10 to 15 percent tip regardless of the service rendered.

"I always tip 15 percent, no matter what and it's something I have been doing all of my life," said a man getting a haircut, who declined to be identified. "Even if there is mediocre service, I still always tip 15 percent."

For those who have spent time working in any service industry, tipping has left an indelible mark on their lives. They have the unique perspective of knowing how much a tip can affect the income of someone like a waitress or cosmetologist. When they go for a haircut or a meal, some people interviewed for this piece said they always make sure to leave a good tip based upon their experiences in the industries.

"Your tips are what you depend on as a waiter or waitress and it's hard to go home with only $10 in your pocket with tips," said Karin Odendahl, a former waitress at Big Moe's Eatery and Bakery, 61 S 700 E.

Odendahl worked as a waitress at Big Moe's for eight months. While she is no longer working as a waitress, Odendahl said she misses working at her previous job and meeting the people who stopped in to eat. Because of the effect tips had on her life while working as a waitress, she tries to show appreciation to the waiter or waitress when going out by giving a good tip.

"It is a lot of fun to be a waitress but it's a lot of work," Odendahl said. "I always make sure I leave a tip because that person spent the time doing the work, and I feel they deserve some tip money for doing so."

Tipping varies from country to country and the culture may say a tip is required or it could be viewed as an insult to the business owner. Delynn Fielding, Carbon County economic development director, said there may be a culture with tipping around Carbon County but each person may have their own way of doing things, making it hard to determine if such a culture exists here.

"Tipping is purely a reflection on the service rendered and the perception of the service by the person receiving it. Exceptional service stands out from mediocre service and tipping is certainly affected by that," Fielding said. "It's kind of a personal subject for people and nobody wants to be known as being cheap, but at the same time some people are cheap."

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July 29, 2010
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