I have a ton of respect for servers, and I 100 percent agree that they deserve to receive tips! I do believe that exceptional service brings exceptional rewards.
Perhaps the people you waited on could tell that you thought that their request for separate checks was something that you considered a “pain in the butt” or that you “loathe” it when people ask you to do that. You are in the service industry. Service with a smile, remember? Your job is to give people a great restaurant experience, whether that is prompt service, a friendly attitude, giving menu recommendations, or even being asked to do separate checks. Maybe you failed in your job.
You complained that you get taxed on your sales. My understanding is that it is typical to withhold tax on 6-8 percent of sales on restaurants with 10 or more servers (I looked it up on Google). You point out that 15 20 percent is what you expect people to tip on their bill. So should I assume that you are declaring the additional 10-12 percent that you should be receiving on your tax return at the end of the year? I didn’t think so. Statistically, the IRS estimates that 85 percent of cash tips are not declared. Do you keep an honest daily tip record as the IRS requires? Do you report 100 percent of your tips to your employer as the IRS requires?
It is a shame when a server who gives great service is not rewarded with a great tip; it really is. But please realize that a tip is not “required” as you stated. I certainly hope you aren’t too bitter with the occasional 13 percent tip. If it is happening a lot, maybe you should look a little closer within.
Some people will never leave a proper tip; others will be more than generous. Having 25 years of experience you have to realize it goes with the profession that you chose.