Last night at work, I was literally "thank-you'd" out of about thirty dollars. This phenomenon of restaurant patrons tipping their servers with compliments instead of money is better explained in the book, Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica. You can tell about half-way through a meal if a certain table is trying to make up for their lack of monetary compensation with an overabundance of compliments.
Scary phrases like, "We love this restaurant soooooooo much. We really appreciate your good service, we are going to ask for you next time." It sounds benign enough, but after that is said about four times - I start to get worried. For some reason, people think it's an either-or situation. Either they are nice and thankful, or they are quiet and thank me with 20% instead. Obviously, I'd prefer people to keep their words to themselves and give me the money.
It goes back to the principle: if you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out. Get take-out instead (and still you should leave something, if not 20%. That food order didn't magically take itself or put itself in boxes). I'd much rather have an empty restaurant with two or three good customers than run around like an ass on a Saturday night for 10% tips! And it's not just about greed or feeling that I'm entitled to something (although I am a good server).
The fact is I have to tip out several people based on my sales alone - not whether I was tipped appropriately. I can handle the burn of a customer ordering three margaritas, needing their water refilled five times and chip refills and dessert and more tortillas - and then leave four dollars. However, I cannot handle tipping out both the busser and bartender all of that money.
Maybe last night was a full-moon or people owed too much money on their taxes, but it was a "thank you" epidemic. Full of compliments, praise, appreciation and questions about my growing pregnant stomach - but certainly not full of generosity. I can't send a note to the mortgage company explaining my excellent performance at my job. I send MONEY. It's why I'm working. Not for the joy of seeing people eat enchiladas and thank me for it.