Class War: The Tipping Point of TippingS

Since this is my last weekend on the site until I return, begging for a job as James Del's assistant, I've invited some friends along. Maura Johnston used to write Idolator. She's been on the internet longer than you. Maura?

The lousy economy is making people act so strange! Or maybe "scarily hostile" is the better term? Especially in restaurants!

The latest example of people turning on each other because tensions are high and bank balances are low comes from deli enthusiast David Sax, who takes on the restaurant-industrial complex with a Times blog rant about how servers are really just asking for too much in tips these days. "David Sax... always tips 15 percent," his bio says. Shots fired?

Sax's plaint, in which he gets all huffy about restaurants adding gratuities onto big parties' bills and bartenders who pay out change in singles, resembles one of those "what's the deal with airplane food?" rants that are employed by your hackier comedians — although it's been brought into the 21st century with its cute Tea Party reference at the very end.

I'm a chronic overtipper, because as a music writer I know what it's like to have purse-string-clutchers consistently underappreciate what you do. So perhaps I'm not the most sympathetic audience to Sax's rant, even though he's clearly pitching it as some "smash the state" polemic designed to appeal to people like me — you know, the sort of young urban quasi-professional who's flush enough to afford a nice meal out now and then, yet broke enough to potentially get huffy when asked to lay out any sum larger than those presented by establishments' menus:

Yes, I know you're all underpaid. But guess what? So am I. When I get $500 for an article that I think is worth $1,000, you won't see me e-mail the editor, saying, "Just so you know, service isn't included." Do I ask you to come into my workplace and supplement my meager income? No, I don't.

Poor guy! It's a good thing he can still afford to go out to dinner — especially given all the cash he's sinking into his wedding.

Perhaps if Sax was as into upending the power structure as he claimed, he would have taken half a second to think about why the bartenders and cabbies he encounters might be more tense than usual these days. And he wouldn't have spent approximately 480 words of his post getting really mad at baristas and cab drivers who have done him wrong. And he wouldn't have left only the last half-paragraph for a mealy-mouthed "oh yeah, so maybe we should have that talk about upping the minimum wage for people who work at restaurants and bars" caveat!

Especially since, let's be frank, most of the people who he's pitching his argument to checked out after graf two, and headed straight to the comments to leave their two cents! (Or whatever 15 percent of the cost of reading Sax's piece might be.)

And was Sax's 520-word piece the $500 article that he thought was worth $1,000? If so, a) tacky; b) I clearly need to up my per-word rate for my splenetic, ill-informed rants from "buying my put-upon friends drinks while they're saddled with my presence at a bar" to something that provides me at least a sliver of income. But see, there I go, begrudging the money-making opportunities of others!

[Maura Johnston is, like, the nicest person evar. Ask her anything.]