While most college students struggle through four years working minimum wage jobs, paying for rent and textbooks they might not be able to afford, and stressing over how they’ll pay off students loans after graduation, many still find the time and money to go out to eat every now and then.
That being said, many Keene State College students believe that if a person plans on eating out, no matter what their financial situation, they should plan on tipping their server at least 20 percent.
Jacob Bodah, a KSC senior, works as a pizza delivery driver for Amicci’s on Main Street in Keene. According to Bodah, delivery drivers make the majority of their money through tips.
“Drivers and especially wait staff don’t get paid by the hour as well as other jobs,” Bodah explained. “The money we make comes from the generosity of the customer, which varies greatly from person to person.”
KSC junior Sasha Chambers works at a restaurant in her hometown as a waitress, where she makes less than $3 an hour.
Chambers explained, “The tips I make are my whole paycheck. I try my best to work hard and be a good server, and when people don’t acknowledge that, it’s frustrating.”
In one particular example, Chambers served a huge party and felt that she was shorted about $70.
“One time, I had a party of 18, mostly boys ages ten to thirteen, and a few camp counselors. The boys were extremely crazy and reckless the whole time and [the whole party was] very difficult when it came to ordering. I kept my cool the whole time. I was very calm and polite,” Chambers explained.
In total, the party ordered almost $500 worth of food and only tipped $30. If they had tipped the standard 20 percent, Chambers should have received a $100 tip from that table alone.
Chambers explained, “I try not to take it personally, but sometimes you can’t help it.”
On the other hand, KSC junior Keeley Glover, who works as a cocktail server at Cactus Jacks in Laconia, NH, explained how one tip was enough to make her night.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings receiving a big tip,” Glover explained.
During one shift, Glover said a table of eight was taking up a decent amount of her attention, on top of three other tables she was serving.
Glover joked, “I was literally running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to please all of them. It definitely paid off at the end of the night though when I opened up the checkbook and saw that they left a 40 percent tip. It completely made my night and caused a permanent smile on my face for the rest of the night.”
Glover went on to explain the monetary importance of tipping wait staff.
“As a server, I make around $2.75 an hour; that’s not even half of what the minimum wage is in New Hampshire,” Glover said.
“If I worked the average workweek of 40 hours, without tips, I’d be making around $90 a week, while someone who worked a job that paid minimum wage would be making $290 a week,” Glover said. “The difference between the two paychecks is a little unfair to me seeing as how wait staff and delivery drivers put just as much effort into their jobs, if not more, than those who make minimum wage.”
“You can tell when [a customer] has worked in food service because they will always tip relatively well,” Bodah added.
Kelsi Woodard, a KSC junior, is a waitress at the Pub on Winchester Street in Keene. Like Bodah, Chambers and Glover, Woodard relies on tips to make up her paycheck.
Woodard said that she feels there are a few reasons why customers won’t tip, though she thinks none of them are acceptable reasons.
“One time I had a group of younger kids that had to ask me what they should leave for a tip. They had no idea how to tip or what to tip,” Woodard explained, continuing that the group was undereducated, and so they asked her. According to Woodard, that would have been an inexcusable reason not to leave a tip.
“Another reason [a customer might not tip] is because of poor quality in service,” Woodard said. “I believe that everyone is entailed to a bad day, and never deserves to be left without a tip, but I think under tipping is appropriate in this situation.”
Woodard continued that some customers are just cheap and won’t tip to save themselves money.
Chambers said that in spite of these reasons, she is often left wondering why she didn’t get the tip she thought she deserved.
Chambers believes that servers should be tipped no matter what.
“Every dollar counts when you’re making barely $2 an hour,” Chambers said. “If you don’t want to tip, then don’t go out to eat.”
Woodard agrees with Chambers, noting that 20 percent should be mandatory.
“I think that 20 percent gratuity should be added automatically to everyone’s bill to ensure that us waitresses get what we deserve for all of our hard work.” Woodard added, “People need to be more educated about tipping.”
While Bodah agrees that 20 percent is reasonable to ask for wait staff, when it comes to delivery drivers, the tip may be situational.
Bodah explained, “Tips for drivers are usually based off of the size of the order, and how far the drive is. As the distance increases you can usually expect a bigger tip.”
Bodah continued that often, the tips he receives cover the cost of gas it took him to get to the house.
Glover said, “When going out to eat, always remember when determining the tip you’re going to leave, that it’s going to make up some of your server’s paycheck.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org