Last night I was writing a blog post for Startle.com about tipping etiquette on Oahu.
And it got me thinking about our tipping culture in general.
There’s really no difference in the way we tip in Hawaii versus anywhere else in the United States. But I know this is more of a cultural obligation. People who work in the service industry — and this is true for Hawaii — tend to get paid far less than other jobs, the idea being they will make it up in tips. Relying on tips to boost your income is supposed to mean you work harder for them. You’re nicer, you’re more courteous, you’re more helpful, you go the extra mile. That may translate to better tips — your reward for doing a stellar job.
Unless you’re from Japan.
In Japan, you don’t tip. (Though this may be changing a little.) You’ll get the kind of service they pride themselves in giving, and they don’t expect anything in return. If your check comes and you owe 2100 yen, that’s all you owe. You don’t have to try and figure out what 25 percent of 2100 yen is. Breathe.
And this made me think about tipping in general.
We tip for everything. The woman in the bathroom who’s handing you a paper towel. The kid selling newspapers at the intersection. The Sandwich Artist at Subway who leaves a tip jar at the register. All of these people expect tips.
In Japan, it doesn’t exist.
This results in two things: 1) No pressure from customers to tip and 2) no pressure on workers to earn those tips.
Personally, I don’t like tipping. I worked in industries that relied on it, and it didn’t necessarily change the way I served people. I did the best I could no matter what, and I didn’t factor tips into my take-home pay. Frankly, it was stressful and I would rather just earn my hourly wage than worry about tips, even if I could make 10 to 20 percent more.
On the flip side, I don’t like to judge service with tips. I just want to pay the bill — with the service included — and not worry about it.
So what do you think: is our tipping culture stressful or do you think it promotes better service? Let the debate begin!