The Wire 2010/2011

Here’s a selection of work I have had published in The Wire across the academic year.

I’ve specialised in mainly column pieces.

06/03/11 Comment on Male Comics

28/03/11 Comment on waitress tipping

28/03/11 News story about excessive coffee outlets on campus.

Download the PDF’s here:

Why are male comedians funnier?

Here’s an insider tip – head to California

Stir Crazy

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Any Tips? February 20th 2011

Is it fair to give tips? Should we be made to feel that if decide not to tip we may risk a poorer quality of service? Charlotte Gay peers into the world of tipping.

I used to be a waitress – chances are I’ll be one once again this summer. It’s not the best paid job but one benefit to this part-time work is the tips. Extra money just for me doing my job? Thank you very much.

Unlike other jobs, waiting and bar work are standard areas of service where workers can be paid extra money for their services. I would like to say that this is for particularly outstanding work, that the employee had gone out of their usual way to be of help to someone. Yet this doesn’t seem to be the case.

But it’s not just when you’re feeling like eating somewhere a bit classier than heading to the local chippy. Tips jars are becoming common place. You’ve all seen them, and they seem to crop up in the most bizarre places now. For example, it is very often seen as customary to give tips to taxi drivers… does this mean I now have to stash back even more of my alcohol fund on nights out to give to my taxi driver for already expensive taxis?

“I thought I’d already paid you!”

Maybe it is just what I’ve grown up believing but it seems wrong giving money to someone just for the sake of feeling socially awkward if I don’t pay. When looking at why we tip, they usual reasons are obvious but there some people have even handed over extra cash to improve their service. Does this mean people pay before they’re even attended? The mind boggles…

The etiquette of tipping (or to give a gratuity) is fairly vague here in the UK. It’s generally not seen as needed as say a pub, but at bars and restaurants a figure around 10% is the norm. These charges aren’t expected as it varies from place to place. In London and many European countries a service charge is actually attached to the bill. For instance countries such as Brazil attach a suggested ‘service charge’ for customers to pay… so now we’ve been charged for dinner and you’re recommending how much we give you? You can refuse to pay this. But let’s be honest who wants those kinds of moments on your conscience? Surely we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty like this?

Saying all this, I do not mean to offend. So if I am on holiday and it is the done thing to give tips to the staff who has served you – I’m not going to defy their culture (although the staff that just carry you bags… really? You want to be rewarded for that?)

In Japan it is seen as weird and even offensive to give someone a tip, and some states in America, such as California, have even out right banned it! Tipping is illegal in California – who’da thunk it?

Under ‘basic issues of fairness’, 2009 saw the law round up the loop holes where employers were paying their staff partly in the gratuities they received. This was all agreed to be wrong but another reason why people tip is because waiting is seen as a poorly paid profession… This reason I find interesting because as a waitress I can confirm the pay… well let’s just say I won’t be retiring on It any time soon. So for someone to outwardly recognise this is quite unusual for them then to feel the need to be the person who fills this gap.

I just think that the logic behind it is wrong. If someone was above the standards the customer thinks they have paid for then great – quids in. But you are paying someone who stood around talking to theirfriends, texting on their phone and generally unconcerned of your evening – is that right to reward them?


For more of an insight into the world of waitressing why not read some waitressing stories