Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I've no way of validating this but I've read that tipping in the US was originally a way for patrons to make sure that the server got paid. During the great depression people were often so desperate for work they would be willing to work for free in the hopes that employers would hire them. (This is still a thing in Journalism). Employers would exploit that. Patrons fought back by tipping workers directly.

In the US bribery was fought by unionizing police officers and paying them more. I think low pay is behind bribery in a lot of countries.

Amusing story from an old gay dude I met at a party. In the sixties he rented an apartment on the fifth floor of a building in New York. About a month after he moved in the fire house held a 'charity drive' and the firemen essentially mugged him to put $20 in the bucket. Couple month later he locked himself out of his apartment and the firemen used a hook and ladder truck to get into his apartment and unlock the door.

Tipping originated a long time ago, but grew popular in the USA as a way to avoid paying newly freed slaves the same as non African Americans for work.



That might be true, but those articles are using a restaurant employees advocacy group as their only source. And beyond that one person's conjecture, there isn't much evidence that it's actually true.

I agree. If tipping really came to prominence during that time period, I wouldn't at all be surprised if it had a racist history. But given that no one at the time hid their racism, I'm surprised that neither article could manage to make a clear connection.

I found a Time article agreeing, but upon further investigation it cites the exact same advocacy group as their source as well. I'll agree with plausible but dubious.

I'm pretty opposed to tipping as a practice, or at least the reduced minimum wage for tipped positions, but I was expecting more from those articles. If you strip away the appeals to identity politics they are much less interesting or compelling. The WP article basically goes away save for a handful of cherrypicked sources. The Time article retains some vague handwaving about how many restaurant workers were former slaves around the time tipping caught on--how do they fail to draw a clear connection to racism in a time when overt racism was a point of pride?


^ It's actually the separate, minimum pay wage that emerged from that period - and that subsequently made tipping more customary. Tipping had been around for a while already.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact