A friend of mine and her mother from Australia came to visit the states and openly questioned our policy on tipping servers. It seemed foreign to this foreigner, who said in her country, tipping is considered an insult. Apparently, servers make enough in base pay and tipping is considered poor taste. When I explained that it’s quite the opposite here, her mother sniffed, as if I might be trying to pull one over on her. I found it baffling. I grew up believing that tips were part of the eating out experience, and my father was a generous man, especially when it came to quality service. But while tipping is part of our culture, it isn’t in other parts of the world.
We have plenty of Canadians who travel here to shop and, of course, eat. By and large, as a nationality, they are considered lousy tippers, according to those in the food service industry. Perhaps it’s because in their country, servers make double in minimum wage than they do here and tipping is considered optional. I don’t know. I always tip well when we travel to Canada.
When I read on ABC’s website that a town in Vermont, some 100 miles from the Canadian border, has restaurants that routinely include an 18 percent gratuity on bills for anyone believed to be from a foreign country, I understood. Not that I agreed, but I could see the logic behind it. It may seem discriminatory, but to those relying on those tips to make a decent salary, it seemed to make financial sense. Especially since the concept of tipping has cultural overtones.
I did learn one thing. Better be careful not to show off your foreign language skills when you’re eating out.