Tipping is not a city in China.

I don’t get the purpose of tips. I think that servers should get paid a fair wage and tips should not be mandatory.

I was at a buffet recently and the server was telling a couple that the federal minimum wage for servers has not gone up in over ten years. She said it is $2.13 an hour. This is unreasonable. But, she knew this when she took the job.

Why do we, the customer, have to make up the salary of the worker with a tip? We don’t really tip for good service. We are expected to tip, period. If we don’t tip, the person makes less than minimum wage. So tip isn’t a gratuity. It really isn’t a bonus. It is to make up a shortage. We don’t tip to say “good job.”

What is the point of tipping someone for just doing their job? We don’t tip police officers or gas station employees or teachers.

What is the point of giving a tip to servers who work at a buffet? We get our own food. They take away the plates and get more drinks. Sometimes. Even when they don’t, we are still expected to tip. The price of the buffet may be low, but when you add in the tip it goes up. The tip may not officially be mandatory, but it sure is expected.

When I was in England I asked my cousin what was the expected tip amount. She was surprised. Tips aren’t expected. They are for exceptional service.

I’ve heard that the expected tip now starts at 20%. When I was growing up, that was the high end for really great service. So we are expected to pay more, but we aren’t getting more. The server still takes the order, brings the food, and refills the drinks. Sometimes. I just don’t get how we are supposed to pay extra for baseline service. Nothing has changed from when the tip base was 10%.

I say pay servers a fair wage, and make tips open for all customer service workers, not just restaurant workers. Make tips as a reward for exceptional service. Let’s not encourage mediocrity, or businesses underpaying their workers.

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Friends – to be, or not to be

What constitutes a friend? When is someone just an acquaintance? Can you really say that someone is your “BFF” if you’ve only known them for a year? When is it time to admit that they just are not that into you?

I have very few friends from high school. In fact, I have very few friends I’ve known for more than ten years. I’m a little exacting about what makes up a friend. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be present. And they do have to be kind and considerate.

About five years after I graduated high school a person I knew showed up at my workplace, asking if we were still friends. I would think that she already knew the answer by that point, but we were young and nobody had told us what the rules were about how to have a friend or how to know when a friendship is over.

We’d not talked in years. I was surprised she even knew where I worked. We’d just drifted apart, because we had nothing to hold us together. Leaving the artificial environment of high school does that. Life does that.

The fact that she just showed up where I work rather than calling me first and asking to talk to me was a clue that things were over. Regular friends are considerate of your time.

She wasn’t a regular friend. I was assigned to her when we were in fourth grade. A teacher came up to me and asked me to be her friend because she was a loner. Her life was a bit sad. Her father has died, but before that he had been abusive. Her mom was doing the best she could raising her alone, but they were poor. The already bad start was just compounded. The teacher was trying to help her out by pairing her with someone she thought would be sensitive and kind.

I don’t think the teacher thought about what this would do to me.

It taught me that friendship is about sacrificing your own needs for others. It taught me that friendship is about taking care of others. It taught me that my own needs don’t matter. It taught me that I had to be there for the friend, but the friend didn’t have to be there for me.

I read recently “I’d rather have four quarters than 100 pennies.” The person was writing about friendship and about quality over quantity. When I first read it I didn’t get it. They both add up to 100. Surely it is the same.

But it isn’t the same at all.

Time is precious and life is short. I’d rather have a few real friends than a bunch of acquaintances.

I had a gathering for my birthday recently at a local vegetarian restaurant. I invited about a dozen people. Most were able to come. It was a very good evening. Nobody was needy. Nobody had to be entertained. Everybody there was the kind of person who is comfortable being in her or his own skin, and it showed. Everybody there was the kind of person who knew how to get along well with others, especially ones that they didn’t know.

And I felt better. I’m glad that I’m making healthy choices for myself. I’m glad that the food that I’m putting in me and the people I’m putting in my life are healthy ones.

It has been a long time to get to this point.