Do some wait staff actually do this?


In an interesting article on the practice of tipping, Aaron Stern described the origins of the practice.

Tipping dates all the way back to the eighteenth century, when patrons would give a few coins to their waiter/struggling scrimshaw artist “to insure promptness.” It’s worth noting that the concept of “promptness” back then was quite different from what it is now. In 1760, if your server took more than twenty minutes to bring your food, you were within your legal rights to “wallop him smartly on his person with a blackjack or billy club.” Whereas today you really need to be waiting for at least a goddam hour before you can administer a wallop in good conscience.

But what grabbed my attention was this passage.

Perhaps the biggest argument against tipping is the blatant gender biases that servers face every day. It is a well-known fact that attractive female servers receive bigger tips when they gently pat the shoulders, arms, or buttocks of their male customers. However, attractive male servers who do literally the exact same thing often find that they have received no tip at all after being revived with smelling salts.

Is it really a ‘well-known fact’ that women servers sometimes pat the buttocks of male customers? I had never even heard of this before or experienced it and cannot believe that it is true. Is Stern pulling his readers’ legs, since the tone of his article is somewhat facetious? Can anyone confirm seeing or experiencing this?

Comments

  1. Siobhan says

    I can say that women working as servers at bars were significantly more flirty–or (more likely) pretending to be flirty–when they thought I was a man. They stopped doing it when I started being perceived as a woman.

  2. Jessie Harban says

    Do some wait staff actually do this?

    I’m sure it’s technically true that “some” wait staff do that, but it’s not exactly a thing.

    Is Stern pulling his readers’ legs, since the tone of his article is somewhat facetious?

    It’s in the “humor” section, and the sections you quoted include an urban legend followed by a self-evident absurdity followed by another self-evident absurdity, all of which are things that are considered “funny” in the alternate universe occupied by writers for the New Yorker.

    So yeah, I’ll go with facetious.

  3. says

    I think he’s full of shit. Most women servers already have to fend off men taking liberties, and who the hell wants to encourage random, strange men? Flirty is one thing, and yeah, as Shiv says, bar servers will flirt, but patting men on the arse? No.

  4. blf says

    I’ve certainly never experienced, seen, or heard of such a thing.

    However, tip meaning “give a gratuity to” is first attested 1706. The “to insure prompt…” silliness is explained thusly:

    The popularity of the tale of the word’s supposed origin as an acronym in mid-18th century English taverns seems to be no older than Frederick W. Hackwood’s 1909 book “Inns, Ales and Drinking Customs of Old England,” where it was said to stand for To insure promptitude (in the form to insure promptness the anecdote is told from 1946). […]

    Amusingly, the meaning “to strike, occur suddenly” is much older (c.1200).

  5. jrkrideau says

    # 6 ragove314

    I am a bit dubious of this story too especially since the French equivalent is a pourboire which suggest to me it’s thank-you for exceptionally good service.

    And I may be wrong but “In 1760, if your server took more than twenty minutes to bring your food, you were within your legal rights to “wallop him smartly on his person with a blackjack or billy club.” is up there with the “flat earth” story.

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