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I hesitate to poke at this hornet’s nest, but what the hell. We need the site visitors. A couple of weeks ago, Waiter Rant (a must read, if you never have) posted a letter, ostensibly from a U.S. waiter to the prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, bitching about Brits who don’t understand the American custom (read: requirement) of tipping in restaurants. The money graf is here, in all its grandiloquent and ungrammatical glory:
Personally I find the British charming, polite, urbane, civilised, and otherwise of a generally agreeable lot. Not having had the pleasure of personally attending an Arsenal or Manchester United football match, I leave the reputed hooliganism and accompanying rows to cultural idiosyncrasy, one not evidenced in my experience. Nevertheless, the one behaviour of your citizenry here in America of which I find the most annoying, disturbing, and ultimately maddening is the ignorance of a peculiar American cultural artefact, which manifests itself most obviously in the act of the tip. As a waiter, and one who has served the Queen’s subjects (and your constituency) on more than several occasions, and because of the vagaries of the American economic system, professional waiters in America depend wholly upon the tip, which, as I understand in Great Britain and Europe, is meant to be an extra reward for good service, due to the fact that waiters there receive a salary of liveable degree. In America, waiters receive a pittance salary, usually of an hourly nature, and far below the minimum wage, which is more often than not applied to income tax; subsequently the majority of waiters in America owe taxes at the end of the year. To put it simply: American waiters depend upon tips for their livelihood.
From the comments to this item on Waiter Rant, it seems clear that…well, Canadians don’t have enough to do. What’s the experience like here in D.C.? Do foreign visitors know to leave tips? I mean, we’re a foreign-visitor magnet here. There has got to be stories.