Paul Sassone: Help minimum-wage employees by tipping better

<p>Paul Sassone</p>

Paul Sassone

Most of what we hear about raising the minimum wage has to do with workers who are paid by the hour.

We don’t hear much about workers who are paid by a combination of hourly wages and tips.

Illinois minimum wage is $8.25 an hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees is 60 percent of the minimum wage, or $4.95 a hour. And a 2009 national study of 4,387 workers found that 30 percent of the tipped workers were not even paid minimum wage and that 12 percent had tips stolen by employers or supervisors.

There is great opposition to raising both minimum wages. So, it remains up to us, the tip-paying public, to help these employees make ends meet.

I consider myself a good tipper, partly because I’m a nice guy, a fair guy and also because I am mathematically illiterate.

The check will come and it’s for, say, $30. Food and service were good, so I’ll leave a 20 percent tip. That’s $19.50, right?

But what if the food and service are lousy? What if I ordered a hot beef sandwich and I got liver and onions? And what if it took the server 33 minutes to bring it to me? And what if it took 22 minutes to get the check and it was wrong? And what if the server gave me an argument about it and didn’t apologize when I was proven right and I heard her mutter something about my weight and lineage?

So, what is the right tip then?

15 percent?

See, I’m hopeless.

What I should do is speak to the manager and calmly enumerate the restaurant’s shortcomings. Either that or wait until the server is at the other end of the room, leave a dime and run like hell.

Of course, you never can go back to that restaurant again.

But this hardly ever happens, does it? Most service is efficient and pleasant. And an efficient and pleasant server actually makes the meal better.

So, I try to tip well.

Somebody has to pay these nice people.

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