Gratuity... tipping the wrong guy?

2014-06-23 06:53

What a delicious meal it was! I really enjoyed my lunch. As the saying goes: it was finger lickin’ good. Oops! Did I just say that? Oh, no! I didn’t mean KFC. I was definitely not at KFC. Nonetheless, blessed be the hands of the chef… or the cook, perhaps? Whatever the difference.

While sitting there, at the extreme corner of the well air-conditioned restaurant down town, a number of questions pierced through my inquisitive mind… one unquestionable fact, though, was that I was definitely going to tip this waitress. Yes, the waitress. A female homo sapien.

…however, I knew for sure that she was neither the chef nor the cook. Why would I have to tip her, then? What did she do, really? Just carrying the food from the counter to the table? Shouldn’t I, perhaps, be tipping either the cook or the chef? Surely they are the ones whose hands made me lick my fingers… not the waitress! Anyway, she is the face of the restaurant, after all. Unless, of course, she has no real salary, and she rely basically on gratuity for a living.

I must, however, make it known that I've never not tipped a waiter, waitress or a delivery man before. I've always done it subconsciously, but with gratitute. I've never questioned the origin hereof. I just followed suit.

Anyway, eventually the bill came, and of course, I did tip her… considerably so! My pervasive friend would normally say: “the amount of the tip I offer is proportional to the looks of the waitress.” I hope mine, in contrary, was in no way influenced by anything other than the taste of the meal… I hope.

As I walked out of the restaurant, with my tummy even more distended than it was, few hours earlier, I had to take a cab back home. And guess what, I also tipped the driver. But hang on! When I came to this restaurant, I used a minibus taxi… mageza. But I don’t remember tipping him, his SDO (sliding door operator) or the queue marshal.

The question is, who deserves to be tipped, and when? What is a tip? Others call it “gratuity”. But what is it, really? I thought tipping is an appreciation for an exceptional service, and most probably, to people who direly need such extra money. But if that is the case, why didn’t I tip the SDO who opened and closed the minibus taxi for me? Surely he needs that money more than the cab guy.

Take for instance, giving your doctor an extra cash over and above the consultation fees. What about giving some change to the cashier or the packer at Shoprite or Pick ‘n Pay? Imagine giving some money to the consultants at the bank. Or the security guard at the event venue… or the police officer while paying for a bail… is that tipping?

When is gratuity equivalent to bribery? Can tipping ever be viewed as fraud or corruption? When? Why don’t we tip the cook and the chef? Shouldn’t we, perhaps, be tipping them? What should influence the amount of the tip? When should we NOT tip somebody? How much is more, and how much is too little? Which piece of legislature, if any, governs the offerings and receiving of gratuity?

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