Team Rockets: Leon, David, Ray and John
This is the first time we have been in the US; before we came, we had heard something about American culture, like American people always pay tips, especially in hotels, restaurants, barber shops etc. while we Chinese people aren’t used to paying tips. But when we first encounter this situation, we were still shocked.
It was in the Banana Leaf Restaurant serving Thai cuisine, after we finished the dinner, the waiter took away the credit card. After a while, the waiter showed up taking the credit card and the bill to our table. I saw my friend writing something on the bill. I was confused and asked my friend what she had written. She explained she had just written the tip that she was willing to give. She merely added the tip to the bill which she paid with a credit card. She told me that tipping is a normal behavior in US. She also gave me a helpful hint to calculate the tip, normally around two times the tax（Texas’s tax rate is 8.5%）.
I don’t understand why they do this. We Chinese don’t pay tip normally. From Chinese expectation, they think it’s weird to pay tip because they think the bill they paid already contains the service. Service is just like chopsticks that restaurants need to supply while selling food. On one hand waiters or waitress don’t live on the tip; on the other hand, good service can bring more customers, so even with no tip, the restaurant still are willing to supply good service.
Also I don’t know what percentage is appropriate, and are they willing to do so or just required. With these questions we did a small survey in the University of Houston, we interviewed 13 persons from different places, such as Pakistan, local Texas, India, Minnesota etc. According to the interviews, we realized that from American expectation: American people always pay tips, like in hotels, restaurants, barber shops etc. The waiters or waitress who get a low salary usually live on the tip. In other words, tipping is very important to servers that also show some kind of generosity of the customers. Usually the tipping percentage is 15%-20%, higher or lower depending on the service and the customers.
Why are there different views about “tip” between Chinese and Americans and other countries? Are they really different or maybe they just look different but are substantially the same to some extent? What does the culture deep inside reflect?
Fair trade and same server’s salary.
Customers enjoy service and make their payment, meanwhile, servers get salary and tip in America and get salary and bonus in China. Servers get more tips if they supply better service in America while they get more bonus if they supply better service in China. The only difference is that the tip is from customers directly and the bonus from customers indirectly. The price Chinese customers paid includes good service as we have discussed before. Thus both systems embody a fair compensation for the workers’ efforts.
Means of expression—directly and indirectly.
American people like to express their views or feelings or attitude directly, so they like to show their gratitude for good service by giving a tip directly. The opposite, Chinese people don’t like to express their feelings directly even if they like the service very much. Instead, Chinese people will patronize frequently and make friends with servers in the long run which both customers and servers value.
Show respect to servers. American servers may feel that their efforts are equal to the tip they get, so it’s worthwhile to do better service to get more tip for living. Once their work gets compensated with getting a tip, they will be very happy; On the other hand, the customers show their satisfaction and respect to the servers by giving a generous tip and will feel happy and helpful. Chinese servers may feel upset and confused if they get a tip. They view that if they receive tip, they’ll feel pitied and they don’t want to be looked down by others. So Chinese customers respect their feeling and they don’t give tips but make friends with them. So “tip” in America or “no tip” in China are both ways to show their respect to servers.
Chinese and Americans have different behaviors emanating from different cultures. When we know differences exist, first we detached by comparing with own culture. Then through our survey and team discussion, now we get a better understanding of why they do so. We found out two different cultures share the commonality that both ways show that “everyone is equal and every work they do is worthy”. We accept it and respect the difference which makes the world be rich and varied.