Blog #12 Dining Out, The Tipping Point

The final act invariably punctuating the restaurant dining event is the gratuity, or “tip”. While technically, and legally, understood to be voluntary, the gesture is required by our notions of acceptable behavior and etiquette. Reviled are those who “stiff” a server.

It is commonly (and, I am sure, incorrect) to identify the word, “tips” as an acronym for the phrase “to insure prompt service”. Were that so, the concept cannot compete with rational sense; the gesture is at best, an expo- facto judgment,  since it is calculated, given or refused after the  meal.

Indeed, why shouldn’t every service be reasonably timely? Why should anyone be rewarded for simply doing his job?  Shouldn’t the service of a meal be prompt without an expectation of a later bribe?

Don’t gratuities also express the degree of our satisfaction with the cuisine?  This is clearly not relevant to prompt  service. Should tips be given to the chef and kitchen staff? Others?

Good food and prompt service should entirely be the responsibility of the management; should be expected and taken for granted. Bad service should be unusual.

I have a friend who described his incompetent and inattentive waiter  as  “someone who had performed the geometric miracle of having his back turned to everyone”. This should be a rarity.

Restaurant owners should pay their staff fairly and not oblige their patrons to subsidize inadequate wages . Good restaurants are revisited by diners  when the food and service are good.





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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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