I worked as a server for many years. I worked in chain restaurants serving food to people stumbling out the bar…as well as pricier joints serving things I could never afford. One thing that all these places had in common (among the wait staff) was the persistent stereotype about Asians as low tippers. Everyone I worked with knew it was “kind of offensive” but would always say “…but it’s true”.
At least when they said it in my presence they would usually say “no offense, but…you know”.
I would often see my co-workers make an annoyed face as Asian guests came in. Obviously it wasn’t every single time, or every single co-worker, but it happened, especially during busy hours. They then paid closer attention to everyone but the Asian guests. Once the guests left, a bad tip would be left, and it would reinforce their belief, and say out loud “SEE? This is why…”
Maybe better service would get better tips?
Maybe saying this to me, an Asian, is actually offensive?
The worst part was that I brushed it off.
To this day, when I go to a restaurant it feels like I have three options for tipping: tip freely according to service, tip enough to not be stereotyped, or tip enough to break stereotype. I always tip regardless of service (also because waiters deserve more pay, but that’s another issue), and I tip more – because years and years of working in the industry has taught me that there’s a good chance that the stereotype precedes me.
This week’s comic is illustrated by Amanda Elbeck. Check out more of her illustrations here.