One of the few things my father taught me before we parted ways, was that tips are a reward for a job well done--that good service, where a waitress goes the extra mile, should be rewarded, and that bad service, where they fail miserably to do their job, should not be.
This lesson came at one of my favorite childhood restaurants: Sizzler (a local steakhouse). Our steaks were not cooked the way we asked. We had to ask for drinks multiple times, and we were given dirty silverware. Our waitress was more reclusive than Howard Hughes once we actually got to eating our meals, only returning to bring us a check. My father rewarded her sullen attitude and pathetic service with an appropriate tip: one penny.
This lesson stuck with me in life, far longer than my father did. I have frequently berated friends and family for not leaving sufficient tips when service has been good. By good, I mean that I never go thirsty (I get plenty of refills), and the waitress actually checks on us more than once.
I look at it this way: I'm paying to not have to cook or do dishes. If I was at home, I'd be checking to make sure none of my family needed more to drink. I'd ask if they needed anything else. I'd make sure my family, or my guests, was having an enjoyable experience and not just shoveling sustenance into their maws like they were at school or in prison. When a waitress rises to that same level of care, I think it deserves a tip.
On the other hand, when a pizza delivery man brings my pie to my door, that doesn't seem like going the extra mile, no matter how far he's driven--it's his job. I don't like to tip pizzaguys, but my wife berates me into doing so (but I only throw in a couple of bucks, not a 15-20%).
Likewise, when I pick up a carryout order from a restaurant, I don't feel compelled to pay extra for the minimum service I'm receiving--but my daughters (often accompanying me for pickup) badger me into tipping.
Last night, I learned a valuable lesson about tipping.
I was feeling generous and eager to dine on a some Outback Steakhouse carry out--a spur-of-the-moment decision for a surprise dinner during the week (our family normally only eating out like this on weekends and special occasions).
The curbside girl was young, about my eldest's age. The bill was $88.something. I had only twenties in my wallet, so I decided to let the kid keep all the change. We were brought our food, and went on our way, assuming everything was in the bag.
At home, we discovered that the plastic forks and knives we asked for (using the online ordering system), one appetizer, and one meal were missing.
The whole point of getting this carry out is that we happened to be near the restaurant and decided to take some food home. Now, we were a meal short--meaning I'd have to go back out, go hungry, or make something else at home for myself.
I called the store to complain, asking for the manager. Remember, one meal and one appetizer, that's $25.00-- plus the $12 tip I didn't really want to give, and which turned out to be for sub-standard service.
"Alex" as he claimed to be, sounded suspiciously young on the phone to be the manager. I would guess he is a millennial as when I explained the situation there was no "I'm sorry" but rather him wanting to know my name and look at my order. The first thing out of his smart-mouth should have been an apology--it costs nothing, and earns a lot.
Alex continued to be of no help whatsoever, taking offense when I expressed that he needed to tell his d*mned staff how f*cking mad I was. His retort? "Oh, you want me to cuss at them like you're cussing at me?"
Jesus Christ, you f*cking snowflake, I didn't realize Priests worked at Outback Stealhouse. So sorry to offend with my salty language when I've been defrauded.
That would have been great to say, but instead I scolded "Alex" about how, as "manager", it was his job to take abuse from angry customers when his people f*cked up. I then told him to get a pen and paper, write down my name and address and mail me a check for my money.
"We don't do things that way," Hilary Clinton's #1 Fan in Clarksville, Indiana retorted, no doubt adjusting his pussyhat.
At this point, before I went full-on Hulk, got in my car, drove down there and gave the little punk ass bitch the thrashing his parents clearly never did, I simply cussed the sassiest alter boy and hung up.
Yes, I tried social media shaming Outback--apparently they don't give two sh*ts about social media, as there was no response (unlike most companies that religiously monitor social media to try and win customers back). I also tried to reach corporate. There's no number to call (unlike so many other restaurants).
Say what you will, Chick Fila may not be down with gay marriage, but if a store f*cks up your order, you can contact someone about it. Even Pizzahut has a damned number to call. Not Outback. You have to fill out an online form that Mohinder Ganesh and friends no doubt spend all day trying to translate, and you never get called back.
What did I learn from all this?
1. Outback sucks. They used to be great, but like so many companies, quality and customer service are forgotten concepts once they reached a certain size.
2. Never give a tip until you know the service has been good.
In fact, I may broaden #2 to "never give a tip at all". There are plenty of jobs out there that never receive tips for going above and beyond: the mailman who has to carry heavy packages to your door... the policeman who gets no respect and puts his life on the line daily... the cable TV installer, who brings all those great channels into your home... the soldier who volunteers to become what is essentially an indentured servant, risking life and limb so you can have the freedom to go to whatever restaurant you want... which, in my case, will never again be Outback.