I tip, my friend fears I create precedence

By Phu Dung   August 27, 2023 | 04:00 pm PT
I think tipping waiters shows respect for their hard work and makes them feel good, but my friend thinks it will create a habit of expecting extra money.

We went to a pho shop in Hanoi the other day and after eating, I asked the waiter for a glass of water to swallow a pill. Before leaving, I gave the waiter VND50,000 (US$2.10) and thanked him for the water.

Then my friend said I didn’t need to do that, that it was normal to ask for a glass of water, that a bottle of water would only cost VND5,000, and by tipping VND50,000, I have created a habit of asking for money from other customers.

I kept wondering later if my act was too ridiculous? Was what my friend said fair to the waiter? And did he deserve my tip?

Well, I believe that anyone who works with responsibility and makes their best efforts should, and will be rewarded.

Giving waiters a little money after being served well not only shows gratitude, but sometimes also helps boost their morale, and makes them feel that their job is as noble as any.

They are their families’ breadwinners, and accumulated tips can help them with bigger things, like paying for their children’s tuition, hospital fees, rents...

The culture of tipping is quite common worldwide and is even mandatory at some restaurants.

In the U.S., after you finish using services at a restaurant, a waiter would ask if your meal or drink is delicious, if your seat is comfortable, and if you say everything is great, they give you a payment bill and remind you to note the percentage of the tip in the bill.

I think tipping a few dollars, or even more, doesn't measure how rich or poor I am. It just shows my sincere thanks to a waiter, for their hard work.

I gave the VND50,000 tip the other day not just for the glass of water. I had seen the waiter working tirelessly that morning, always busy with one thing after another. One moment he was carrying two bowls of hot noodle soup on both hands, another moment he was muscling up to carry a whole basket of empty bowls, then he quickly cleaned up napkins that guests threw on the floor. He rushed to serve one table a jar of garlic, another table a bottle of chili sauce, another some extra slices of lemon, and another some toothpicks.

He didn’t have time to wipe his sweat, and yet he was addressing everyone politely with a smile.

I do not have much money, but I don’t think twice before giving a few extra dollars to people who make genuine efforts to provide a satisfactory service.

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