So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Another perspective on tipping – this time from a snotty Canadian columnist

He trots out every anti-tipping cliché. I won’t comment too specifically on the article because the economics of restaurants in Canada are different. Canadian waiters get paid more of a living wage than we do in the States, but it’s my understanding that they still derive a good portion of their income from tips. And I’m not sure what the “standard tip” is in Canada. I’ve heard conflicting things about it.

Needless to say, it’s hard for me to determine how much of the menu price already helps cover the waiter’s wage in Canada. However, here in the States, the menu price covers virtually nothing of the wage (even in those three states on the West coast that pay $8.00 an hour, the cost of living eats most of that up).

So I hope that if Mr. Thompsett visits the US, he throws out all of that claptrap about charity and sweatshops and the like. Here in the States, we simply pay our service charges separately and with the ability to modify it according to the level of service that we receive. It’s actually a pretty logical system if you think about it, but it only works if the vast majority of people “play fair”.

Check out a “point/counterpoint of this article at Tip20!:

PS, if I were a Canadian waiter, I’d probably pay a night’s tips to watch the author of this piece set himself on fire.

PPS, perhaps our friend Steve over at Waiter Extraordinaire (see my blog role for a link to his nice blog) could talk about the history and custom of tipping in Canadian restaurants. And perhaps give us some insights on the economics that underpin the concept of tipping over there. Here’s, it’s fairly cut and dried – it’s pretty easy to tell that tipping really isn’t “optional” because waiters get paid so little. It seems that the waters might be a little muddied when the waiter makes well over what would be considered a “minimum wage” but not as much as the market would bear. Also, it seems like it would be a little confusing based on whether or not the GST and provincial taxes were or weren’t bundled in the price.

16 responses to “Another perspective on tipping – this time from a snotty Canadian columnist

  1. Mari December 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    After reading the article (and noticing you cannot comment on the author’s article) – I have this to say.


    Okay, I get him making a point – but this was obviously a guy reaction, like the person who sent a letter to the editor noticed.

    However, all of the people that the Canadian guy commented on as earning low wages – bullshit. Gorcery cashiers are typically covered by unions (I know there must be some that do not and earn very low wages), but I have never seen a tip jar at the grocery store Not even the little mom and pop type of places. Covenience stores? Now THEY might get be paid barely more than beans (in relation to cost of living in your area), but they certainly are legally required to get minimum wage.

    Bank tellers, well, not they are another story. I have a relative who is a teller manager, so she gets paid well, but I’m not sure what pay scale is there. I do know that college students are frequently tellers in my area though, because schedules can be a little mroe flexible in that industry.

    But he made shitty comparisons.

  2. Mari December 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I meant “gut” reaction, not “guy reaction.

  3. waiterextraordinaire December 11, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    OMG no wonder Canadians have such a poor reputation abroad for tipping. This guy is way off and is a minority because if everyone thought like this guy I would be doing something else. I will make a post maybe later but I say just forget about this moron as the guy above aptly called him. I am not sure this guy is worth the trouble.

  4. teleburst December 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Mari, maybe you were right the first time! And Steve, I waited on Canadians just the other night and I was just happy to get 12%!

  5. sara rose December 11, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    A waitress has to set herself on fire sing dixie and deliver plates with her feet… wow!! Remind me not to go to Canada.. Is this really the norm there?

  6. SkippyMom December 12, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    The examples that he gives are wrong. Waiters don’t make what grocery store clerks, etc. make per hour.

    This guy is ridiculous.

  7. Living in Canada December 13, 2009 at 9:02 am

    As somebody who has lived her entire life in Canada [and damn proud to be Canadian] I can tell you that yes, waiters and bartenders make a seperate minimum wage than most industries. It is typically lower than the norm [in Ontario our min wage is increasing to $10.25 in March 2010 whereas the server min wage will probably increase to $9 something] because most people do tip.

    And a lot of it is in line with the American typing system. 15-20% adjusted to the appropriate level of service.

    This guy is from Owen Sound – it’s a farming community. I highly doubt he understands tipping.

    • teleburst December 13, 2009 at 9:43 am

      Thanks for the input.

      I wonder why the default Canadian tip in the US seems to be 10%. Actually, it’s been getting a little better, but it used to be almost automatic that 10% was what you would get from Canadians (at least here in the South). Even US tourists from other parts of the country generally do better, although, they too are worse than average (but not at 10% usually). Please spread the word to your fellow Canadians that most Americans save a 10% tip for punishing bad service. 10% is considered an insult tip in the face of decent or better service by most waiters.

      I like the Canadians that I’ve met or know. Except for this part. In fact, I got a 12% from a Canadian regular in our restaurant the other day. He and his wife have been here for a couple of years now (but this was the first time I waited on them). I guess he thought that I did the equivalent of setting myself on fire :g:.

      • Living in Canada December 13, 2009 at 8:38 pm

        I wouldn’t be surprised to see the exchange rate come into play here.

        Some may actually think they are tipping appropriately and others might actually assume waiters in the US are paid in a similar fashion as those up North.

        Not everybody reads blogs like these!

      • teleburst December 14, 2009 at 7:02 am

        I don’t deny that. However, when I go to a foreign country, I make sure I know the local customs. for instance, before I moved to Germany, I knew that tipping American style was almost considered an insult and that the custom was to round up to the next “fifth” Deutschmark for larger bills (if the bill was DM 42, you left DM45, or if the bill was DM76, you left DM80). Of course, with the changes with the EU and the Euro, if I went back now, I’d doublecheck to make sure that standards hadn’t change.

        Guide books have been around a long time and now, with the internet, there’s really no excuse. I sense that it’s more about a general sense that’s echoed in this article that Canadians just aren’t very “tip friendly”.

        And I’m sure that most Canadians are smart enough to know what the exchange rate is because, heck, they’re paying a dinner bill and traveling. If you’re saying that if the exchange rate is unfavorable, they’re going to short the tip because of that fact, well, then they’re definitely wrong.

        Like I said before, it’s getting a little better. It used to be almost 100% that Canadians tipped 10%. Now it’s more like about 75%. So the word is getting out there. but it’s still almost 100% that the highest tip that you’ll see from Canadians is 15%. It’s very rare to get more.

        These are just my observations based on a lot of experience in two cities in the South. But I think it’s borne out by my compatriots across the US.

  8. Long Time Foodie December 15, 2009 at 3:29 am

    What a whacko. I understand he is trying to compare a grocery cleck or a mcdonald’s cashier for all i care to a server, but what he doesn’t understand is that there is more skill involved in waiting tables. Knowing your product, not just the ingrediants. Timing out your tables dinner. Juggling multiple guests, not just the the one in front of you. Just to mention a few… plus it would be just fine if we got rid of tipping for servers, problem is that few would understand why the $20 Steak is now $25.

  9. Jeremy March 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    The reason I see some Canadians tipping low in America is the same reason a lot of people tip low on vacation. They are watching pennies and assume it’s the easiest way to save some cash. They’re not coming back and they know it. I have worked this industry for 16 years in Canada at all levels of the business except fast food. I average 20%. This may be because I am good at my job but those around me are usually about the same percentages.

    The average tip in Canada runs the same as the states. We do make better money per hour than our southern cousins but that is a political issue not service related. I have to say that in all the years doing this I am just as likely to get the average tip from Americans as I am Canadians. It also comes down to a societal issue. We are stuck between American service standards and European ones. We want meals faster than across the ocean but slower than across the border. Every American blog I read slams Canadians, I generalize and stereotype certain groups as do all waiters, but just once I’d like to have someone remember that Canadian table who tipped well.

    Part of the problem is the fact that as far as writing about our lives in the service industry, much like newspapers, shit sells. Bad stories are always more entertaining, and most blogs are a place for us to vent and rant about the bullshit we deal with day in and day out. I can’t promise that Canadians will tip you any better sometime soon, but just remember those of us who do. Also remember that as a nation we have just as many moronic inbreeders coming out to dine as you do, we get stiffed by these same people and we hate them more because we will probably see them again. I’m sorry that so many of our mouth breathing simpletons cross the border and plague you. All I can say is we’ll keep ours here if you keep yours there.

    PS if you are ever coming north drop a line and we’ll show you a good time up here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: