Carolynne Tovenar has waitressed at the same Calgary restaurant for more than six years, and she’s never been paid so poorly as she is today.
But it’s not the restaurant’s fault. Tovenar said tips are about five per cent less than usual, if people tip at all, and attributes it to the declining economy.
“Two tables didn’t tip today,” Tovenar said.
“I felt like running after them, being like, ‘excuse me, did you forget to tip?’ I do all this work for them and they have the money for their bill but they can’t afford an extra two bucks? If you can’t afford to tip, don’t go out at all.”
She also said that if people don’t tip, servers still have to give a percentage of their bill to cooks and other help staff. So she has to pay money out of her own pocket to serve some tables that choose not to leave a tip.
“We don’t get paid very much. We get minimum wage. We rely on our tips to live. If people don’t tip, we’re screwed.”
Brent Ritchie, a professor in tourism management at the University of Calgary, says he doesn’t blame people for tipping less after the stock market plummet, even if they still have a job or haven’t gotten a pay cut themselves.
“It’s quite rational for people to be saving at every opportunity,” Ritchie said. “In tight times, people change their behaviour. Tipping is an optional expenditure. Everyone is not only tipping less, they’re spending less. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low.”