'Tips for Jesus' should remind us to be kind

The Gazette editorial Updated: December 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm • Published: December 8, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

An anonymous tipster or tipsters, mostly at restaurants in Chicago and San Francisco, is leaving gigantic tips for service at restaurants. One tip, left for two bartenders at a University of Notre Dame campus restaurant, was for $10,000. Others have been for hundreds, dwarfing the size of the bill.

The tipster or tipsters take photos of the receipts and post them on an Instagram account with the username "tips forjesus." The only explanation given on the Instagram account is: "Doing the Lord's work, one tip at a time."

We hope "tipsforjesus" sets an example for others who dine out during the holiday season and beyond. Oh, it's not as if everyone should go around leaving tips worth hundreds or thousands of dollars for routine service, or even great service. Few could afford to do so, and one can think of other ways to give away money.

We only hope the news-making tips will get people to think about those who serve them. They are human beings, equal to all others in the eyes of God. They wait on customers, in most cases, because they have spouses, children and bills to pay.

During the season of Hanukkah, Christmas and the new year, diners are notorious for stiffing waiters, cab drivers, bellhops, barbers and others who serve them. It's probably because consumers are burdened with high costs of the holidays and are looking for opportunities to save.

Cutting back on the tip only transfers financial burden from one person to the next. Usually, not always, the person waited on is of higher financial means than the person providing the service. Miserly tips often translate into disappointment for children and families service workers who already live below the middle class.

In the United States, waiters and bartenders earn shockingly modest wages. They are exempt from standard minimum wage protections precisely because tradition creates a valuable relationship between customer and server. Because of tipping, consumers are typically ensured a higher level of service. A customer who is neglected or mistreated has the rightful option of leaving a lower tip. If service is atrocious, one can make a case for no tip at all. If service is excellent, the customer should leave a generous tip.

We believe good service, especially during the holidays, should cause a tip worth no less than 20 percent of the total bill. For more detailed tipping guides, search "rules for tipping" on Google and look at guides published by the Emily Post Institute, Reader's Digest, CNN/Money and TripAdvisor. Mostly, examine your own conscience and heart.

While on the topic, think of others who serve us throughout the year. Consider running a tip to the people who pick up trash at the curb.

As we celebrate the festival of lights, the birth of Jesus and the new year, remember that men and women who wait on us are trying to feed families and pay bills. If we don't want to pay them, we should not have them wait on us.

Service isn't free. Before signing the bill, think about "tipsforjesus" and leave a tip that's fair—if not extraordinary. It can only help bright someone's holiday season.

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