Most waiters and waitresses never paid salary in Yerevan

The people who smile at you and serve you and try to make you comfortable in hundreds of outdoor cafes, cafeterias, restaurants in Yerevan – several hundreds of waiters and waitresses in Armenia, most of them young, good looking boys and girls are usually not paid a regular salary in Yerevan.

Instead, they have to rely on tips, or the so-called ‘tea-money’ to make a living.

I first heard about this on a TV talk-show program. Throughout the past month I’ve been asking the waiters I’ve met in various locations in Yerevan – and they have all confirmed this.

Clearly, it isn’t so bad if so many good looking and apparently quite well educated boys and girls (most of them speak at least 3 languages) prefer that profession.

However, there are several points that make me uneasy:

  1. According to Armenian employment legislation they must be paid some kind of salary. So if all those waiters and waitresses are not paid a regular salary, that means the cafes, cafeterias and restaurants employing them are manipulating figures – which is a crime and should be punished.
  2. There is usually a charge for service – 10% included in restaurant bills. I always thought that is for the waiters, and sometimes I felt I didn’t have to leave any tip. To my surprise – this is also not for the waiters – they never see anything of that money. So now – going to a restaurant, cafeteria, I am feeling more obliged to leave more money… which puts an additional pressure on me… I kinda hate that feeling – because while in the past I considered tip as a way to award good service, now I’m feeling obliged to leave a tip – and a bigger one at that. And feel guilty if its not big enough… and big enough is such a subjective thing… etc, etc, etc…
  3. Bastards!!! The restaurant owners have all that money and they build all those huge buildings and they don’t want to pay anything! What is this? I’ll become a marxist-leninist if I keep feeling like this 😀