Introduction: Tipping the Scales

When my writing studies professor announced that for our final project, we’d have to write on a space or issue that we were passionate about, I panicked. I’m not passionate about anything, usually. I’m not particularly political, and I don’t typically squawk about social issues, so I was stumped. Luckily, midway through week five out of ten, it came to me. I was at work at Zen Sushi and Bar, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant in my hometown of Bellingham, Washington, when my friend Taylor came up to me in a huff. I’m a hostess there, and Taylor is a server. She announced that she hated people, and showed me a receipt on which she had been tipped sixty six cents on a forty dollar tab. To make matters even worse, he wrote a note on the top of the receipt. Here is what it said:

This guy was able to eat forty dollars’ worth of sushi on his own, but couldn’t find enough extra money to tip her. Even though, as a hostess, I don’t receive tips, I found myself angry on her behalf. Taylor is a brand new resident of Washington State, who moved up here from Florida for a fresh start. Like most early twenty-something’s of this town, she doesn’t have a lot of spare cash. She, like all of the other servers that I work with, depend on tips to get by at a minimum wage job. If this man, who left her the note, had eaten just one less plate of sushi than he did, he could have tipped her what she was due, easily.

Just like that, I found my issue. As a hostess, someone who doesn’t even have a stake in this whole deal, I think I can offer a unique perspective on the issue. My goal is not to flip the system on its head: I don’t think we as a society are anywhere near being able to safely abolish the issue of tipping without the millions of Americans who live on tips suffering. My goal is merely to inform folks on the influence leaving a few dollars on the table for your server has. Don’t get me wrong, I generally have faith in the general populace. I truly believe that many people either don’t tip or tip too little are those that don’t have any idea of how much of a difference their action makes. So my task is pretty simple. If I can just open the eyes of a few people out there in the wide world of the internet, if just one person feels more inclined to tip when they sit down somewhere to eat, I’ll have won.

A Quick Note: I’ll be referencing Zen Sushi and Bar a lot in these essays, and I figure for those who are unfamiliar with conveyor belt sushi, I’ll give you a brief overview. You sit in a booth or at a counter and the sushi and other food items go around on a conveyor belt on little colored plates, and when you see something you want, you pick it up and eat it. The plates are various colors, and the colors decide the price. For example at Zen, the prices vary from $1.75 to $4.25 per plate. At the end, your server will come around and count up all the plates and that will be your total. A lot of people like this because you can eat super quickly and you don’t have to wait for your food after you order it. They are super popular in Bellingham, we have at least four of them that I know of.