So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Responding to observation of non-tipping in Europe

On August 31st, Erik, an expat living in Spain posited this, in his post intitled “Tipping”:

“One difference between the US and Spain – and the rest of Europe, I think – is the practice of tipping in restaurants and bars. In the US, tipping is such a common custom that the waiters’ salaries are reduced, sometimes below minimum wage, under the assumption that the tips that they make will put them back over the minimum wage. In Spain, waiters are paid at least minimum wage, and there is no tipping whatsoever. None. If the check comes and it says 4.80€, you put down a 5€ bill and you wait for the change to come back. That’s the norm. I submit to you that the European system of non-tipping is inherently superior to the American system of tipping”.

He then went on to make three major points:

1) Myth: Service is better in the US because of tipping.

2) Tipping demeans waiters.

3) Tipping favors the rich over the poor.

Under each point, he proceeded to make his case.

In my next four posts, I’ll be addressing each of his points and I’ll post the update that he posted after our conversation.

Normally, this sort of observation is made after someone goes to Europe on vacation and is astounded to find that tipping is only incidental as best. They come back enamored of the idea that the US should adopt the same system. I was especially interested in this because it wasn’t someone who didn’t really have much knowledge of the European dining culture but someone who had lived there for close to a decade.

On one hand, this would make it hard to defend tipping in the States because he had knowledge of both systems and he still came to this conclusion. He didn’t come to it after a superficial “if this is Tuesday it must be Belgium” sort of experience. On the other hand, however, it might actually make it easier if I could point out the structural differences between both systems that he could recognize but hadn’t possibly thought of. I did have one thing working in my favor – I too had lived in Europe for close to a decade (in Germany) and had seen the dining culture of Europe up close and personal.

You can find his post here:

So, stay tuned.

For those of you who like to turn to the end of the book early, or don’t mind being spoiled about a movie plot, you can read the update at the end of his post or read the comment section to find out how it all turns out. Otherwise, feel free to  ~cue dramatic organ music~   follow our intrepid hero as he goes on a cliffhanging, 4 part adventure into the unknown!



One response to “Responding to observation of non-tipping in Europe

  1. Pingback: Responding to observation of non-tipping in Europe | Best Travel Videos Online

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