Many years ago, I had a friend who waited tables to help pay the bills while he was between jobs. He worked hard at giving good service to patrons to earn the tips needed to pay the bills and frankly to have extra to fund fun nights out. After hearing his stories and watching how hard he worked, I am very sympathetic to wait staff when I go out to eat. I know they depend on tips so I usually over-tip good service. I don’t penalize them for food that isn’t perfect because they simply deliver the food; they don’t prepare or taste it (at least, I hope they don’t). Don’t shoot the messenger, right?
Conversely, I don’t tip someone who provides subpar service. It’s not a matter of reducing the size of the large tip I would normally offer. I leave nothing, because zero sends a message.
We have become conditioned to tolerating mediocre service and we even “tip” them by continuing to patronize their businesses. What if our entire service industry functioned the way waiters and waitresses do? They take a lower base rate and rely on the quality of their service for rewards. What if professional athletes were all on the same pay scale and only got bonuses for good performance in a game or over the course of a season? What if tenure was removed from the teaching profession and teachers were paid based on their performance and not on the number of years they had taught? What if unions didn’t negotiate salaries for their members and, instead, the workers were paid on merit?
What would happen to the quality of service in our culture if we all had to be measured in order to be compensated? Would kids learn more? Would athletes play harder? Would cable guys should up on time???