Tips on Tipping

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Here’s how incredibly different Hasidic NYC is from most of the rest of the city: as far as I observed, there is no tipping. The other day I overheard a secular woman ask the waiter at Gottlieb’s Restaurant if he was sure there is no gratuity. The waiter smiled and insisted, in heavily accented English, that there is no gratuity. She asked again “you’re sure?” as if she felt that she was somehow not paying her dues.

Tipping wasn’t always the “mandatory gratuity” in America. It was imported from Europe and became the norm in the early 1900s, according to this history on tipping. But it did not become “mandatory rather than voluntary” without some serious objection. “In 1904, the Anti-Tipping Society of America sprang up in Georgia, and its 100,000 members signed pledges not to tip anyone for a year. In 1909, Washington became the first of six states to pass an anti-tipping law. But the new laws rarely were enforced, and, by 1926 every anti-tipping law had been repealed.”

I’ve often heard people complain that Hasidim do not tip taxi drivers or other service members, but I think this is only a facet of the culture and does not reflect ill will or any efforts to “cheat” servicemen. My own guess would be that this will change with time as the Hasidic service sector continues to be influenced by the American landscape it exists in.

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