Dear Ace: At a buffet the waitperson only brings beverages and takes away the plates. Is a 20 percent tip recommended or do you leave less at a buffet?—Phoebe Buffet
Dear Phoebe: Here at C-VILLE the tipping wars have definitely been a topic of conversation. Any conscientious Rant observer will remember the battle that continued for several weeks between whiny waitpersons and local Scrooges. However, The Rant seems to create more problems than it solves, so Ace will mediate this issue (or at least part of it) once and for all.
The word “tips” is said to be derived from the acronym To Insure Proper Service. But how do you thank the guy who shows you to your table? And what about the geezer behind the warming trays slopping out an extra heaping helping just for you? (Here Ace pauses for a Great Moment in Buffet History, Randy Quaid’s impeccable Cousin Eddie in Vegas Vacation: “Gimme some of the yellow. And don’t get cheap on me.”)
Insuring proper service and expressing gratitude is important, but the recent trend toward the 20 percent tip suggests that tipping is equally about displaying status and prestige. If that’s the case, Ace has a question for you, Phoebe: Whom are you trying to impress at the buffet with your 20 percent tip? The guy who brought you your water pitcher has long since ducked out around back to puff puff pass the day away, and Cousin Cletus probab-ly won’t notice your baller status as he combs his mullet over by the soft- serve machine. And if you’re trying to impress your date, you might have started by not taking her to Uncle Ollie’s Family Chum Bucket.
Tipping procedures around this country are inflated enough. Let’s do each other a favor and give these buffet runners what they deserve: nothing. Ace isn’t bitter, but they really just don’t do anything. Look, if they keep coming back to make sure your glass is filled and your finished plate pile doesn’t begin to resemble the Tower of Pisa, by all means toss them a 10 percent gratuity. It’s a nice gesture, and you won’t feel like you’re throwing five bucks at an overblown busboy when you did all the work. You wouldn’t leave just 10 percent at an upscale sit-down restaurant, but you wouldn’t eat six plates of rib tips and Jell-O, either. Now please excuse Ace, it’s time for seconds.