Black People Don’t Tip

Before I even begin, please forgive my use of generalizations-I know they’re there but please, just go with it for a few minutes and focus on the overall point of the story.  Thank you 🙂

So you're really gonna have the nerve to NOT tip?!

            I’ve been working at J. Alexander’s for a few months now.  J. Alexander’s prides itself on selling the BEST cuts of beef (prime rib and filet mignon) as well as seafood (the company’s supplier of salmon is the same for the White House-it all comes from Norway.  Seriously.).  J. Alexander’s also has a lengthy employee handbook affectionately referred to as the “black and white book” that is easily 100+ pages with specifications on everything from employee attire, the multiple points of service, the spices and ingredients that are in the food, dressings and garnishments (they are all made from scratch) and the daily operations of the restaurant as a whole.

            To become a server here, employees are subjected to a very intense and grueling process.  It took me roughly a month to complete training myself.  I was trained and tested on the “black and white book,” the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine (Champagne comes from Champagne, France-if it comes from anywhere else it’s ssparkling wine), the number of seconds it should take me to get drinks and appetizers delivered to my tables and a bevy of other tasks, large and small, that adds to the satisfaction of the guests. 

            With all of that training, information and testing assessments, it’s practically impossible to get bad service.  Because the restaurant it built solidly on a “teamwork” model, it’s every server’s responsibility to get a random table a refill, food delivered, questions answered, etc. regardless of who the actual home-based server is.  As a result, it is a standard expectation among the serving staff that the tables will tip us 20%.  Honestly, it is rare that the expectation isn’t met…until you get a table of Black people.

            I’ve noticed that as soon as a Black table arrives, they generally will have the most extra requests, will “run” the server around to death and generally show a lack of appreciation for the efforts that the server makes.  Oftentimes the Black table will complain about bad service, a request not being met, or something being over-cooked, get their meal (or a portion of it) paid for and then RARELY leave a respectable tip.

            I know this sounds so rude, ignorant, stereotypical and general.  I hate it myself.  I am the only Black server (well second now-another Black server finished training last week) and am constantly feeling the pressure-while I have an allegiance to the guests (there’s no denying my Blackness) I also have an allegiance to my fellow serving staff.  The Black gentleman will peel the bills off of his ample roll of dollars, afterwards remarking to his White server, “keep the change.”  And he literally means change.  I’ve seen too many $69.92 checks be paid with $70.  Seriously, I see or hear about several of these every week.  It is rare that more than a few dollars is left. 

            On the other hand, whenever I personally get a Black table I notice they are nicer to me.  They are more lighthearted, not as particular about their meal (I’ve never experienced a Black table being unsatisfied with their meal) and I’ve yet to be shorted on my tip once the final bill is paid.  I am the only server working at my location who can honestly say that I’ve NEVER received a low tip from a Black table.  The other servers have noticed this and I was once pulled aside to have an open conversation/dialogue about it.  It was a small group of servers and one spoke up and asked me earnestly, “Do you think Black people purposefully don’t tip or are they not aware that they’re supposed to (like older people sometimes are)?”  I offered her honest feedback.  “While there are some who I believe aren’t aware that they’re expected to, I think the vast majority do it because they can.  You see their pockets of money-they obviously have it to spend but are chosing not to.  They see blonde hair and blue eyes and see it as a way to get back at a prejudiced system that has wronged them.  Let’s be honest, as soon as he pulls his car out of our parking lot in this suburb, the police can and probably will pull him over.  His offense will most likely be ‘driving while Black.’” 

            *Becky got quiet.  Then a few others spoke up and it became a “Why can’t we all get along?” and “Racism still exists?” conversation.  I didn’t have the patience to go there with them at the time but this is obviously extremely problematic.  A lot of my coworkers are obviously developing jaded views of Blacks, assuming they never tip, are cheap and rude. Given the circumstances, can I blame them?  I feel awful about all of this, I honestly do.  What do you all think about this?  Why don’t Black people tip? 

*Sidenote: I know I used the example of a Black man, but Black women do it equally as much.  They will pull their credit card out of their luxury purse and leave a tip that they might as well have kept.

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8 thoughts on “Black People Don’t Tip

  1. Ashley you no I found this very entertaining…but I think it would help your readers if you shared the example like you did with me it wouldreally give them a better understanding of what your trying to say:)

  2. Ok so I’mma give this article to Khalil and my mom!! lol
    He thinks a standard tip is $2!! ALL the time though, for like a $30 bill!!
    (red in the face) Its embarrassing.
    Oh, and I know we’ve talked about this before, but when did 20% become the standard? I seriously thought it was 15%…??

  3. Great read Ashley! I wish everyone would read this its unfortunate that this is still an issue. I honestly thought that was a myth now. Oh and I thought 18% was standard didn’t know about the 20% jump 🙂

  4. WE DEFINITELY TALKED ABOUT THIS BEFORE AND I DO AGREE WITH YOU TO A CERTAIN EXTENT. I AM BLACK AND I DO TIP, MORE SO WHEN I GET GOOD FOOD AND SERVICE. THE SERVER HAS TO BE A COMPLETE A-HOLE TO GET NOTHING OUT OF ME AND THAT IS VERY RARE. I HAVE BEEN OUT WITH PEOPLE AND WATCHED THEM NIT PICK AND RUN THE CRAP OUT OF THE SERVER WHO REMAINS NICE THE ENTIRE TIME AND THEN WHEN THE BILL COMES THEY SAY, “OH SHE AINT GETTING A TIP CAUSE, BLAH, BLAH BLAH.” AND THEY MAKE UP SOME AIMLESS EXCUSE FOR POOR RESTAURANT BEHAVIOR. I THINK THE MAIN ISSUE WITH THAT IS, THEY REALLY DONT KNOW ANY BETTER. WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, YOU DO BETTER. IF NO ONE EVER TAUGHT THEN WHAT THE APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR IS WHEN YOU DINE OUT, THEN THEY DONT KNOW. BUT THAT REALLY SUCKS THAT THE SERVERS HAVE TO SUFFER DUE TO LACK OF HOME TRAINING. MY MOTTO IS, IF YOU DONT HAVE THE MONEY TO BE OUT, THEN DONT TAKE YOUR CHEAP SELF OUT ANYWHERE!

  5. Thanks for the love ladies! And the example I had given Jannecia is that women are extremely EXTRA in their requests (ordering stuff that’s not on the menu, running the server to death, etc). V and Sheranita a “good” tip is considered 20%, satisfactory is 15% and BAD is 10%. If absolutely NOTHING is left, then save yourself and the server the trouble and just don’t go eat at that restaurant. Simon’e it does suck when those peeps act stingy on the tips. The reason why I wasn’t so quick to say it is lack of education however is because I’ve NEVER gotten a bad tip from a Black table-it always seems like they understand/know the concept of tipping. And of course you can use it big couso! xoxo

  6. I HATE HATE HATE going places with people I know don’t tip. One of my best friends and I often tip more than we should because we know our friends don’t tip what they are supposed to. I know of a white girl who is a server at BW3 (she’s not racist she hangs with almost all black people) but they call Tuesday Black Night. None of them want to work and they’ve come to expect that they won’t be tipped, they’ll be mistreated and ran to death. Its sad and I’ve seen it first hand. It really works my most important nerves (like the one that connects your spine and your brain).

    In general Black People Don’t Tip. Period. The chicken is alread $.25 a wing. You can’t leave the lady $3 smh. I call my friends out now, I’m not about to look bad lol

  7. This article is interesting & thought provoking, but i would have to say that it may be more of a measure of tipping sufficiently, not tipping at all. Many people, not just blacks may not know the current rate at which it is appropriate to tip their server. So while servers may think they aren’t tipped sufficiently enough its really they aren’t sure of the current tipping “etiquette”. For instance, I don’t think i had any idea that 20% was an appropriate tip now, I was thinking more 15%-18%. Also, I know I do tip based on service. I’ve never had an issue with tipping, as long as the service was up to par; satisfactory, good, or bad tip depends on satisfactory good, or bad service.

    Coincidently, my mom & I had lunch at J. Alexander’s yesterday & tipped our server “good”-based on the type of service we received & relative to the amount of our check.

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