If you love what you do, it isn’t work

A receipt with a $10 tip.

One of Jeff's tips.

As a bartender, I always prefer being paid in tips rather than hourly wages. Some activists want to abolish tipping even though most bartenders aren’t unionizing or striking to abolish the tip system for a living wage. 

What irks me about tip abolitionists is if they don’t want to tip, why eat out? I discovered many anti-tippers are sociopaths because going to a restaurant and planning not to tip is premeditated. They don’t want to tip, yet they feel entitled to abuse us for not running around, waiting on them hand and foot.

While these anti-tip crusaders think they’re helping bartenders and waitresses, what they’re doing is screwing everybody, including the consumer.

Unless someone is 21 and their parents never ate out at a restaurant, they should have a basic understanding of how restaurants work, and how they rely on tips. 

Your wage is indicative of how much food and beer you sell. If you bring up $1,000 a sale and everyone tips you at least 20%, you should walk away with about $150. If you work at a higher-end restaurant selling $3,000 to $5,000, you’ll earn about $500 to 600 a day. If you work at a restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol, chances are you’re going to make less than someone that works at the MGM or sells a bottle of Rip Van Winkle for $1,000.

It’s futile arguing with tip abolitionists. It is doubtful that they understand that most waiters and bartenders are independent contractors instead of paid employees, nor could they fathom that many of us work off the clock and do things for which we never get paid. 

I sometimes come in an hour early to set up the store, pay for my flyers and business cards and promote my following. I never get paid a nickel, but do I resent management for not paying me an hourly wage? No. Good bartenders don’t show up for work for a basic income. We can like our employers even if we’re paid $5 an hour and like the people we serve. 

Try doing it for passion. Then the money will come. 

As you can see in my photos, I am not concerned about being paid a living wage or getting stiffed by a tip abolitionist, nor can I stomach servers that add 20% gratuity on a receipt. My most fantastic memories aren’t my biggest tips, but when a college student who barely had enough money to order wings and fries tipped me $7 on a $16 meal. 

It’s moments like this that keep me going. I am almost 60 and ready for retirement, but it’s seeing high school kids coming in, graduating and working on their masters that brings me joy.

Do I do this to make millions off of college students? 

I can write all day about serving, but everyone should do bartending. I have people from all over the world come to Wingo’s because I served their friends, and they went back to their country talking about how excellent the service was. 

I can brag all day about the big shot that bought everyone a shot of Casamigos, but what makes me cry is the poor person who tips 35% on a $10 meal. 

Very few get appreciation like that. 

I could go on, but I will reveal my secrets in digestible parts so people can understand. Stay tuned. 

Jeffery McNeil is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media. 

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