What’s Up with the Kids These Days?

13 Jan

I am sure that many of us who have spent time in the service industry have had some variation of the following conversation that I had just this past weekend with my coworker, who I will call “B.”

Me: Man, what is with these tourists not tipping?
B: I know, right?
Me: I mean, when I go traveling I buy the book! And then I read the book! And I especially read the part about tipping customs so I am not inadvertently an asshole and then when it says “it is not customary to tip” I say “fuck that nonsense, I’m doing it anyway!” How do they not know?!
B: Oh, they know. They just think they can get away with not knowing. It’s fucked.

I am, like B, quite convinced that most of them know. I mean, how could they not? It’s in all the books. It’s on all the internets. It’s on all the checks when they get auto-gratted because it is such a common problem that restaurants have to put a practice in place to make sure that their staff gets compensated. Maybe it’s like a game they play. A cruel, cruel game. They want to see when they can get away with (1) not tipping and (2) not being auto-gratted and then they write back to all their friends and are like

“We have found the spot! We have found the spot where we can eat our food, poo-poo the wine, AND not pay for the service!”

Those places are mostly in midtown.

Maybe I am exaggerating. But the thing about foreign tourists specifically is that if this was all intentional it was sort of genius. Because now when people order from me with certain accents I assume I won’t be getting a tip. But then when they tip me… woah! It’s like, the best thing. I am so happy about the tip! I even go over to my coworker and I do a little dance and I’m like

“Look! Look! A tip!”

Maybe it’s that all the foreign tourists got together and picked straws and whoever chose the small straws get to be the tip fairies and make bartenders and servers the country over jump with joy when the unthinkable happens. That seems reasonable I think, right? Maybe I’m thinking too much into it. And, in fact, joking around about foreign tip fairies wasn’t even the point. This is the point. In the past few months I have come to the conclusion that the worst tippers, the absolute fucking worst, are (drum roll please) young white kids. What is up with the kids these days, guys?! What has happened?

So, listen, I was a young white kid once and while maybe I didn’t tip then like I tip now (I have been working in service for far too long and tip like I am the richest bartender in Brooklyn) but I always left something, and it was generally 20%. Or, at the very least, a dollar a drink. I didn’t always understand buybacks and so I did have this regretable period in my life where I would visit a friend of mine and he would give me my glass of wine for free and I wouldn’t tip him. But of course, he was trying to sleep with me (which he eventually did) and so I feel less bad about it. In hindsight, not tipping and instead having sex with someone seems like a fair trade (although I didn’t really connect the two together at the time and, now that I am thinking about it, I sort of wish I hadn’t ever connected it because I feel a little bit icky). But also, this happened like 8 years ago so I should probably just let it go. What’s done is done. But this gives you a little insight into me. I still feel bad, and am still trying to wrap my head around making a bad tip decision when I was like 23 and sex was involved!

And I got sidetracked. Again. The point is that a lot of young, white kids these days simply don’t tip. I had one girl give me a hard time because the bar I was behind didn’t accept AmEx and she had just drank two Macallan 12 Year on the rocks ($12 a pop at that establishment) and somehow only had an AmEx (which was bullshit because I peeped at her wallet when she opened it and saw not 1, not 2 but 3 credit cards. I imagine the one she wanted to pay with had her daddy’s name on it). Obviously it was my fault that my bar didn’t accept AmEx cards and so she paid me $24 exactly – she just so happened to have cash – and made some snide remark about how if I had let her use the card she would have tipped better. I wanted to tell her to eat a dick but I refrained. It’s just that, really, I don’t make the rules, I enforce them. Don’t kill (or not compensate financially for an exchange of services that you initiated) the messenger.

And then there was the kid who got a tequila drink of some kind, paid with his card, didn’t tip a dime (and in fact wrote that amazing 0 with the line through it on the tip line) and then had the nerve to come back up to the bar and complain that his drink was weak. It’s not like there as some incident where he thought me or my coworker was being rude and wrote something along the lines of “DISRESPECT!!!” on the tip line (which happened recently and I thought it was funny because it really is disrespectful to not tip and at least this person was self-aware!). No. It wasn’t about that. It was that this dude just simply didn’t tip because it seems as though it is a thing he doesn’t do. Plain and simple. And so this is where I get confused. There aren’t guidebooks for people who grew up in the United States and have spent their lives steeped in tipping culture. I can’t be like

“Yo, mother fucker, check out the section on ‘eating and drinking’ in your Lonely Planet to see the proper way to behave.”

Although in hindsight maybe I should say that. Secretly. To my coworker. So we can giggle.

So the point is this: what is with the kids these days? Who is raising them and where? And why in the world do they simply not tip? I mean, I get it, New York is more expensive than it used to be. Drinks that used to cost $6 four years ago now cost $8. But they don’t know that because they weren’t old enough to drink four years ago. They don’t have a point of comparison. Right now is their point! And I mean, yea, I get that people don’t have money. But you want to know the thing? Neither do I. And you want to know why? Because young, white kids don’t tip.

If anyone has any insight into this particular, and very unfortunate, turn of events, feel free to email me at franklyrebekah@gmail.com Nice people only, please.

2 Responses to “What’s Up with the Kids These Days?”

  1. Some Guy January 13, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    Funny how people who have never worked a day in their lives won’t think about tipping, or give two fucks about the “servant” (in their minds) behind the bar. The depressing part is knowing how many of them will never actually learn, remaining blissfully unempathetic through to their last breath.

    • FranklyRebekah January 13, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

      Right?? But on the positive end it makes me feel thankful that I’ll never be that person. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

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