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What It Is Like Being a Waitress in the Tipping Era

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.

Tipping is a huge issue in America, especially for waitresses/waiters. Now there are huge corporations flipping a screen in your face asking you to tip every time you buy something. Big corporations pay their employees either minimum wage or more. A Starbucks employee (sorry Starbucks) who can make 12.49 to 16.50/hr can ask for more to be added to that which can seem unfair.

In the restaurant business, you expect everyone to leave at least 15% of the gratuity. Gratuity or tipping is “when a sum of money is customarily given by a customer for a service performed.” I have been working in the food industry for over 7 years and tipping is the primary way for waiters/waitresses to make their income. It is how they make their living, the amount of tips you leave is how they pay for groceries, gas, living, etc. Now some waiters/waitresses usually have a second job but that is when they are not in school, but those who are in school rely on their customers. Waiters/waitresses make $2.13/hr, which is the minimum wage in Kansas.

As a waitress, we can have busy days where we can make $160 or slow days where we make $50. Our income fluctuates while others can stay relatively the same. Waitresses/waiters have to do tip-outs at the end of the night, where we MUST give up a portion of our money to the bar, dishwasher or busboys if there are any. Also, if anyone pays in cash we must pay back the restaurant. So, if at the end of the night I made $35 in credit card tips and someone pays me $100 cash, I owe the restaurant $70 plus tip-out to the bar. I could be walking out with maybe $45-$50 if I am lucky.

Any tip a waiter/waitress can get, we are thankful but sometimes it can be too little and this is not to stop you from tipping other companies or service workers but for you to think twice when going out and only tipping 5%. Make sure to treat the waiter/waitress with kindness and be understanding when something may be forgotten.

I'm a senior at KU with a Strategic Communications major. I am really excited to join Her Campus and make new friends and new connections.