The U.S ‘tipping’ system and why it is extortion

It was a hot day. I was thirsty and hungry. I was meeting some friends up for a bite. I didn’t tell them I couldn’t afford the ‘bite’ and so I rummaged and rummaged in my bags, gathering loosely placed coins (exactly done so for times such as these) and came up

With exactly what I needed for my meal. I even found a couple of notes as well. Not enough for transportation and so I pulled out my walking shoes for the near 5 miles walk. I am generally a walker you see. I remember walking all the way from Yonkers to downtown Manhattan right after the dreaded hurricane Sandy just to sit in a hotel lobby because there were simply no rooms nor cars to take me to my destination. In Ghana, I remember my famous one woman walk; but anyways I digress here. Something I love digressing I must say.

Life had been a roller coaster lately. Things were not going too well or according to plan.

Anyways we sat down to eat. Everyone was paying for their own food and so we did. The waiter or someone else, not very sure, comes back slightly agitated and pointing at me and the receipts and speaking in Chinese. We manage to get out that he was complaining that I didn’t add tip. My friends turn to look at me oddly. I pull out one of the notes I found. It was a dollar.

‘Is this enough?’ I asked. Their faces responded. I looked again, ‘ahh’ a 5$ note! I hand it over. Together with my hope of eating tomorrow… ‘Yes that works. One of my friends said. Usually 15% works’

‘But is tipping a must?’ I asked. The ensuing conversation whether intended or not, made me feel like an unappreciative, ungiving person. I was given a lesson in the importance of tipping and why. Mostly that those who worked at restaurants and other places and services like salons etc. depended on the tip because they were not paid very well.

But why is their wage my business and not that of the business owner? I thought. Don’t they make enough? Why is the wages of workers not captured in the business expense like any other business? and why the charade if it is a must? Why do they make it look like it is not a must, but then make it a must? Why do they just not add it to the cost of the food and service generally? The whys continued and onto this day, I cringe 😬 at the experience that evening.

Recently a similar experience ensued with a friend, and this time I was on the other side 😜… Tipping is a must I said… ‘as the name says, tipping is a voluntary act. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to’ he responded. He in this case, could afford it and so I kept quiet. He didn’t tip. And sure enough the individual was back promptly! 😅

I am a giving person, really… in fact, not only do I give to humans, I give to animals too if I can. Heck I will even give to inanimate objects if I could. The point? giving as an act, is an action that originates from the giver willingly, with no undue pressures, expectations or consequences for not giving. It is both a spiritual and a physical act, simply because the ‘giver’ feels a kindness or something near that to the ‘givee’


If you give a tip to someone such as a waiter in a restaurant, you give them some money to THANK them for their services.

I gave the barber a tip.

**** Synonyms: gratuity, gift, reward, present   More Synonyms of tip

The above is how I understood ‘tipping’ to be. At least the way it was explained to me in my country and other places in the world. To show appreciation for service. To say thank you, to reward. All things I strongly believe in and will do anyways. This means that, I do not have to show appreciation if I do not feel appreciative, right?… the answer is no! It means that I do not have to tip if I can’t afford to, right? No!

In the United States tipping is not an appreciative act. It is a must. After paying for the service at whatever price, you must give a tip. Usually at 15 or 20 or more % of the price. Many services will break down what the percentages look like on the bill, so you don’t get it wrong 😑 and it will be demanded from you.


Pic credit – online

I looked up the origins of this practice and sure enough, a tweet from UberFacts said: “Tipping became popular in the U.S. in part, because restaurant owners didn’t want to pay black Americans after the ratification of the 15th Amendment. This way, owners could set a $0 wage for waiters and rely on voluntary tips from customers to pay them.”


There are many more commentary on origin of this act, but here is the thing, almost all businesses have jumped into the fray and the US is encouraging an extortionist culture!


Learn to pronounce


1. the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

The act of tipping in the US is not that which you feel that soft light of giving hit your heart. It doesn’t give you any soft emotions afterwards. Well maybe you can still manage that; but whatever the case may be, there should be a tackling of the real issues. Business owners must pay their works the required rates so they don’t have to ‘beg’ or depend on tips! Workers deserve some respect in this direction.

Restaurant food is expensive. It is a business and like all business people, one must count the total cost, which includes payment of workers, taxes, operational cost Etc. All businesses must desist from demanding or extorting money from clients in this back handed way.

And now Ghanaians 🇬🇭 that always copy better than the originators, are also beginning this demanding culture…

clients WILL CONTINUE TO TIP AS GOODWILL AS IT IS MEANT TO BE and receive the full blessing that comes with giving from the heart ❤️

#yaamusings #julietasante #julietyaaasantewaasante #tipping #ustipping #extortion #gratitude #education


One thought on “The U.S ‘tipping’ system and why it is extortion

  1. It is cruel the way they treat restaurant workers, mainly Mexicans and other minorities. That is a new form of slavery. The dishwashers and cleaners are mostly immigrants who don’t have green cards and the waiters and waitresses are usually people who don’t want a permanent job. You will find actors and actresses moonlighting in these jobs until they make it big. The chefs and cooks are paid well. And the manager and owners laugh to the bank.

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