In a country that is increasingly characterized by irreconcilable political differences, a viral social media post is reminding the U.S. that there are some irreconcilable apolitical differences as well.
The image showed a receipt totaling $32.76, but the real story was what was written on the tip line.
No, it wasn’t double the sales tax — it was a warning.
“Don’t call my husband sweetheart,” read the five-word message in the tip line.
No actual tip was given, as the receipt reflected the $32.76 in the total line.
While News.com.au tried to frame this as a reason to abolish tip-based wages in America, most social media debate on the viral image centered solely on whether or not the protective wife was in the right or not.
One person responded to the New York Post’s post on X, formerly called Twitter, on the situation by labeling the non-tipper as “insecure.”
Wow, what an insecure wife.
— Cat Ryan (@CatQuestionsAll) September 4, 2023
“Wow, what an insecure wife,” the response read.
And it was hardly the only reply skewering the “insecure wife.” One X user pointed out that in many places in the South, phrases like “sweetie” or “honey” are blanket terms of endearment.
Darling…that wife would never leave a tip if she lived in the south.
— Frostedsleet 🇺🇸 (@Frostedsleet1) September 4, 2023
One biting response to this viral controversy skewered “feminism” for this whole ordeal:
Another marriage where she clearly wears the pants. Yay feminism!
— Anna (@ACPsa23) September 4, 2023
However, there were also a number of responses that felt the mysterious non-tipper was being unfairly vilified for her stunt.
Well he isn’t your sweetheart🤷
— Lost (@djdubmasterflex) September 4, 2023
“Well he isn’t you sweetheart,” one X user responded, accompanied by a shrugging emoji.
Another X user called the non-tipper “petty,” but still loved the response:
Petty but i love the energy 💅
— Jayroo (@jayroo69) September 4, 2023
Now, it is worth noting that this whole story should be taken with a grain of salt. While it has sparked real debate and conversation, there are some question marks (not the least of which is what restaurants with servers can you get dinner for two under $35 in this economy?) about the whole ordeal.
But even if it is completely fabricated, the conversations surrounding it are real and substantive.
Namely: Is tip-based compensation a worthwhile and sustainable business model?
The upside for the business itself is obvious. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers only need to pay servers $2.13 an hour “in direct wages” so long as the tips help elevate that figure to the minimum wage.
That obviously helps the bottom line of restaurants and restaurant owners — $2.13 an hour is a literal pittance, but it’s also what allows many restaurants to stay afloat.
But not everyone is going to be pro-business on this.
As this October 2022 New York Times article chronicled, there are plenty of supporters and detractors of tip-based salaries.
“When I think of the potential positives [of eliminating tip-based wages] for [employers], I can’t really think of anything,” Xander Gudejko, a district manager for Mainstreet Ventures Restaurant Group, told the Times.
On the flip side of the coin, David Weil, the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department under President Barack Obama, blasted the current model as “very problematic” and described the frequent abuse of it as “baked into the model.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.