The United States has always been a land of the weird. It’s the land of cowboys, tipping servers, advertisements for drugs, the imperial system; it’s the world of the Grand Canyon and the place that invented Facebook and Twitter. The place where quiet things are heard, complaints are made, and people kowtow to the power of social media. Twitter can make things rather interesting as the vocal masses find all the people who agree with them and voice their majority opinion. Or once in a while, a ‘troll’ will say something they know most will protest, just to stoke the flames.
Why? No one knows, but on occasion, it can be funny. Trolls act in a specific way, similar to that of elementary bullies, seeking what kind of reactions they can get from the mass of the internet.
That is what happened when Twitter user @Hendrikvh posted an odd question. “How much do you tip when paying rent?”
Tipping in America is a weird, sometimes even awkward, thing. Often attributed to waitstaff at restaurants, servers usually do not receive the federal minimum wage (something that is already below the living wage). Instead, they may be paid as low as two dollars an hour, most of which – if not all – is sent directly to their taxes. Because of this, servers never even get the paycheck in the first place, and if they do, it’s less than a hundred dollars. Instead of the standard minimum wage, Americans tip their servers, and this is the only money that they get.
Supposedly, tips are considered a reward or incentive. Many Americans were raised on this simple idea that 20% tips are for good service, while atrocious servers are only tipped 15%. Some may even claim bad servers deserve no tip at all, but it has been found by researchers at Cornell University that the emotional tie to tips, or this ‘rating’ doesn’t even exist at all.
As a result, tipping is a hotly debated topic. If waitstaff don’t get a paycheck on their own, it’s the customers’ responsibility to make sure they get paid at all.
But landlords aren’t waitstaff – they are seen as their own boss, responsible for their own paycheck. So when @Hendrikvh dared to ask how much to tip a landlord, he touched a more passionate cornerstone of American culture than he was expecting. Considering their location in South Africa, they probably had no way to know. After the tweet first “blew up,” he replied to some asking people to ‘remember to tip the landlord.’ He quickly backed down again after a good few hundred people asked if he was a landlord or a ‘landlord bot.’
What’s the big deal? Surely everyone would like to be tipped once in a while. It is not recommended to start asking for tips as a landlord: there is a big difference in the image of tipping a server at a diner. There is a different level of power at play, with waitstaff seen more as an underdog than landlords are. It doesn’t matter if that is true or not, as there are plenty of landlords who may just be trying to get by the same way servers are, with hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Still, not receiving tips from tenants is probably a good thing. Tipping depends on that underdog image and the person tipping’s desire to express individuality and their desire to exhibit power over the tippee. As a landlord, you depend on your ability to, on a professional level, demand they pay rent on time. Getting tipped would undercut that, wouldn’t it?
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