I have a pet peeve and it troubles me a lot. The problem is "tipping." It is not that I begrudge my waiter or waitress the tip or that I don’t want to show that I appreciate their excellent service. A gratuity is no longer an indication of how good you think the service was but it actually pays the wages of the restaurant employee. The restaurant owner is not only charging exorbitant prices for his fare but is also paying his employees way less than minimum wage. I think this is illegal.

For instance, I was personally told by an employee of the Red Lobster restaurant that until their training was over they were paid minimum wage and when the training was finished and they began getting to keep their tips they were then paid $2.00 per hour. Outback restaurant also pays only $2.00 an hour as I’m sure do all the others. Two dollars per hour should be against the law.

This is the case in the higher end restaurants as well. I took my two daughters and granddaughter out and the bill was over two hundred dollars. Well that’s okay because we knew that we were going to a nice place ( I do believe that you get what you pay for and I am not even what you would call a "tightwad"), however after a $40.00 tip, I sort of feel gouged.

When talking to one waitress about this, she said that she wished I would write a letter to the editor about it. I asked her why she didn’t quit. She did not have a good answer but I knew the answer. It is because she is making a lot more than she could make anywhere else she could work. She’s making big money…her employer is making big money and the American consumer is the bank. I have even overheard waitress/waiters complain about their tips when the amount of a tip is supposed to be at the customer’s discretion. I do not understand where the 15 to 20% came from. We only give our church ten percent. In other countries the gratuity is included in the meal. Maybe the American people should band together, go back to tipping 3 to 5 bucks and force the restaurant owners to pay a decent wage.

Alice Starling

Booneville, AR