Monthly Archives: January 2013

Done Like Dinner

Are you tired of being pressured into paying exorbitant tips in restaurants? Let me know what you think.

Done Like Dinner

Andrea Freedman

As if dining out is not expensive enough these days, it is now recommended by some Toronto restaurant proprietors that the socially acceptable standard gratuity be increased from fifteen to twenty percent, often calculated on top of tax.

The service does not always warrant even a fifteen percent tip, never mind twenty, but most people, myself included, would not dream of not leaving at least something for the wait staff, no matter how mediocre the service.

Restaurant dining with a group can be awkward. If anyone would dare to ask for separate bills, thus leaving a separate gratuity of their own choosing, many of their friends would want to hide under the table in embarrassment.

Sometimes people almost make a pretence out of showing that they are leaving a generous tip, regardless of whether or not their dining companions feel comfortable with it. For one night people get to feel like big-shots, throwing extra money on the table that they might just regret having spent the next day, after the wine wears off and they are short a few dollars for something they really need.

People who have experienced life as a waiter or waitress may feel that once they themselves can afford to go out to nice restaurants, that it is their duty to tip generously. While their empathy is commendable, not everyone they go out to restaurants with has worked as a server themselves, and thus may not be as over-zealous when it comes to tipping as they are.

Tipping nowadays also comes with a rounding-up assumption. By that I mean that if everyone puts in their money, complete with an over-the-top gratuity, one person in the group will inevitably suggest that everyone put in just a little bit more to make the total a nice round number; anything less would seem tacky. Everyone then feels obligated, some feeling shamed into leaving extra money that they do not really want to part with, even if it is just change that could have been saved for a coffee.

I can hardly believe it when I think of all the money my husband and I used to spend on going out to expensive restaurants. These days, I can hardly bring myself to go to a restaurant. Even if it is not somewhere fancy, it always turns out to be fairly expensive, often for sub-par food. While I agree that tips are what constitutes a large part of a restaurant server’s livelihood, I personally think that a twenty-percent gratuity, especially if we as diners are now going to be made to feel that our gratuity is inadequate if we do not succumb to the new higher tipping pressure, is too high.

Just because someone is out to dinner, does not mean that that person is rich or is able to easily afford that dinner. Perhaps they had to sacrifice something else to be there. Nowadays it is not uncommon for restaurant outings to be limited to special occasions and obligatory social gatherings; in these tough economic times, even spending that money is not always easy. Of course when most people go out to a restaurant, they are prepared to include a tip, or they would not bother going out in the first place. However, to try to force people into including a larger tip than they already are accustomed to is, pardon the pun, distasteful. Like it or not, the proposed ‘twenty-percent is the new fifteen percent’ can make quite a difference to the overall bill and it just may make the difference in the future as to whether people choose to dine out or not.

If it turns out that this twenty-percent implied mandatory gratuity idea snowballs enough that it actually becomes the norm, I for one will be eating at home a lot more. Unfortunately, if expected tip increases are to become the way of the future, the middle class as we know it might cease to regularly patronize restaurants, leaving dining establishments filled with only the rich or corporate executives with unlimited funds or expense accounts at their disposal.

What’s next? Twenty-five percent? Thirty? As long as everyone goes along with the political correctness of ridiculously exorbitant tipping, there is no end to how expensive dining out will be. If a line is not drawn, sooner or later less and less people will be going out to restaurants, period. Perhaps if a decrease in customers equalled a greater loss than gain from the suggested new twenty-percent gratuity, wait-staff would then feel grateful for the former fifteen-percent that they took for granted. Just a little tip for you.♦

Copyright © 2013 by Andrea Freedman


A New Year Of Acceptance

A New Year Of Acceptance

Andrea Freedman

We hear the word tolerance mentioned a lot in regards to how to treat other people. While tolerance is a very positive thing, what about the word acceptance? To tolerate someone is not necessarily the same as truly accepting that person.

Furthermore, overall tolerance of people as a whole can sometimes be surprisingly easier than accepting individuals who are actually a part of our daily lives.

On the first day of this year, I realized that a whole year had gone by and I had all but forgotten about my last New Year’s resolution. I would like to make this year not only about tolerance of others but acceptance, not only of others but of myself as well, and I think that is something I can achieve without making a formal resolution to do it.

In order to come to this acceptance, we must first get to know ourselves and admit who we are, and decide that whatever that means, that is okay. After all, how can we expect others to accept us as we are if we ourselves deny our shortcomings and strengths?

Part of acceptance is not being afraid to be real, and to stop putting pressure on ourselves to try to live up to what others expect of us just as we must recognize that our friends and even in some cases our families will not always live up to our expectations of them.

When we accept that each of us are flawed yet good people at the same time in most cases, then perhaps it will make it easier to remember that no one is perfect, but that does not negate each person’s value nonetheless. What one person lacks, in one person’s opinions, in one area, they may make up for in another way.

While I used to be concerned, although fairly certain that I was well thought of by my peers, after the surprising end of some close relationships in my life, I realized that I must accept that not everyone is going to like or accept me or even approve of me.

It is not to say that there is no room for improvement in all of us or that we should give up learning or trying to grow or improve upon our relationships with those who are important to us, but we cannot control what everyone thinks of us and that in itself is sometimes not easy to accept.

More difficult still, some of us may need to accept the fact that we will have to move on from people in our lives who choose not to accept us as we are. It is difficult enough to accept oneself without having to worry about whether or not others do.

All that really matters when it comes down to it is how we each feel about ourselves; if we feel that we are doing right by ourselves.

Rejection is another thing I personally need to accept, and I mean truly accept, in such a way that I don’t spend the rest of the day after receiving a rejection moping and feeling sorry for myself.

I will accept the days when it feels like I have absolutely nothing to say or write about. Tomorrow is another day; acceptance and letting go of the not-so-productive writing days will hopefully lead me to a new day where I will not be able to get the words out fast enough.

Not accepting others, ourselves or situations for what they are can stand in our way of moving forward with our lives in a positive direction. Whether or not we choose to accept reality will most likely not alter the outcome but if we decide not to waste our energy trying to change things or people, it just might lead to inner peace and contentment, longer-lasting relationships and the freedom to fulfil our dreams.

Surely, those are things we all can accept.♦

Copyright © 2013 Andrea Freedman