Tipping the scale: Servers discuss gratuity


Working a few hours on the weekend, she makes only $2.13 each hour. For staff like senior Rachel Whittemore, gratuity serves as at least half of what they make. As opposed to those who are paid an hourly salary, these students must depend on customers with fluctuating tips to determine how much they earn at the end of the day – sometimes a good thing, and sometimes bad.

“At times there are those who don’t leave a tip, which can be stressful,” Whittemore said.  “Some of the customers are from other countries and have different tipping habits, so I don’t end up getting anything. Other times though, something could have gone wrong in the kitchen so the customer doesn’t tip. The fact that the incident wasn’t my fault but I’m still the one penalized can be frustrating sometimes.”

Though the flow of income can be unsteady, it sometimes turns out for the better. Sonic carhop senior Kameron Darland often finds herself balanced with the income of those who receive minimum wage.

“There was one time a customer gave me a penny and sarcastically said I could use it to pay for college,” Darland said. “Other times though, there are definitely days that I get really generous gratuities. On weekends I usually get a ton of tips and it makes up for the days that I barely get any. I say it’s a pretty fair balance overall.”

During certain shifts, Whittemore finds herself making more than $100 in tips in five hours. Despite the uneven flow of income, she has stuck with the job because of the satisfaction these large tips bring.

“The flexibility of the job lets me make a lot in only a little time,” Whittemore said. “I feel like on days like this, I work less than those who actually do receive minimum wage. Even though I make less per hour, I think the income is fair between the two jobs.”

Many believe that because tipping has become an expected gesture, it is a right that servers should not be deprived of. Junior Simone Patel finds gratuity unquestionably mandatory, despite not knowing how a server will behave.

“If someone has a problem with their server, they should talk to the manager about it,” Patel said. “Even though things didn’t go as expected, the server still has a right to their pay.”