How difficult is it to understand the custom of tipping?

I'm a server. I've been a server since I was in my early 20's. Yet to this day, some, if not a lot of people, don't know how to tip. Now, I know that there are probably a thousand bloggers who have talked about this subject, but now there's a thousand and one.

I'm not sure how many people are aware, but because servers depend on tips for their income, their hourly rate, at least here in Illinois, is just under $5.00 a hour. But generally, when check day comes you get a check that has "THIS IS NOT A CHECK!" branded across the whole thing (Ok, maybe there isn't an exclamation point, but you get it). The reason it says that, is because the tips you've made through the pay period should equal out the hourly rate you are receiving. So when people don't tip you or give you a three percent tip, you're actually paying out of your pocket.

Look, I understand if you don't want to tip 20%. Technically, a 20% tip or higher is for exceptional service. A 15% percent tip is fine, but if I've done everything you've asked of me, gotten all of your tables orders correct, refilled drinks, all while maintaining a great attitude and a smile, why would you leave me $3.00 on a $50.00 check? I can always tell when a person has left a bad tip by the way they've placed their signed credit card slip back into the check presenter. If it's face down, it will almost ALWAYS be a bad tip. If yo're so ashamed of your gratuity leaving skills, perhaps you shouldn't come out to eat. Stay home, make a turkey sandwich and have some Crystal Light.

Now let's move on to foreigners. I have nothing against foreigners. Welcome to our country! Enjoy yourselves while you're here! But please, for the love of God, don't tell me you aren't aware of tipping in the US. Now I know that in a lot of European countries, the gratuity is always included or the servers make a higher hourly rate so tipping isn't customary. But when Americans come to other countries, they love us because most of us always leave a tip after having a meal.

To them, that's like a little some thing extra. It's kind of like when you put on your winter coat after it being in the closet all summer and you find a $20 in the pocket. Bonus! And I understand that it's bound to happen occasionally that a non English speaking person from another country doesn't know to tip. But I once waited on two ladies from England who didn't even leave me a penny.

So I did something that I've never done before and I went back to the table before they left and said, "Ladies, was every thing alright with the service? The reason I ask is because you didn't leave a tip. In America, it's customary to tip 15% to 20% depending on service." Did they leave me anything after that? No.

But I guarantee that one of two things will happen. Either from then on, they'll remember to tip (probably not) or they'll tell their friends about the rude server who said that to them and then their friend will say, "Yeah,  you dummies, everyone knows to tip". Ok, fine. Neither of those things will probably happen, but damn it, it felt great to finally say that to a few cheap asses.

Well, I'll end this rant here. The word TIP is generally thought to stand for To Insure Promptness. So perhaps we should change the tipping procedure to tipping BEFORE the meal to ensure that I give you good service. Kind of like a.....well bribe I guess. Anyway, just please, the next time you go out to dinner tip your server appropriately because karma's a bitch.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: Disgruntled, Gratuity, Tipping


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  • I tip on the benefit of the doubt, plus your face.

    If the server is good it's 20%. If the server is bad it is 20%. If I am a regular, and you know my face and I know your face, and you treat me well, then it's 20% or higher; if you act as if I am lucky to be seated at your station, even after all our face time, I tip, but much less.

    One thing that really bothers me is when a server, either by company direction or on their own, does not inform you that your blue cheese dressing is extra, or the fries, or the side of this or that. Not to mention that most restaurants do not put the booze prices on the menu, and then you find that your pint of Sam Adams at your fine bistro (not you personally) is $8 vs $3.50 next door, it tends to tick you off. Booze is where the money is, so maybe some people are in shock when they find out that their glass of wine is $12 when the bottle of the same is less at retail. There's your service value added (too much).

    Let's be honest, too. The economy in a lot of areas sucks, and Mr. Obama has replaced the 2% payroll tax for us drones out here and the tax life of the "Obama Millionaire" (those making $450,000 or more couples) has just gotten harder. Not to mention Gov. Quimby taking an additional 67% and property taxes increasing on the sinking value of your home, making disposable income a vague memory for many.

    The ladies from England will still every server in America after your comment, I can promise you, because they will never operate on the benefit of a doubt plus face factor. Maybe you weren't up to par that day and they were just being polite? It happens, you know.

    Have you ever been "overtipped", in your estimation. Did you rush out the door and insist that they take some back?

  • Richard, you sound like someone who's never worked in the service industry. I agree that sometimes, servers aren't up to perfect standards at every table - but more often than not, it's due to extenuating circumstances (like being over-sat, a problem in the kitchen, having to split a check 8-ways for a party of 12, etc.). I'm not saying that every now and then you won't run into a server who is just an ass with an ego problem, but 99.8% of the time - he or she is just having a run of the mill bad luck day, and you should tip them just for smiling through the sweat.

  • Richard, I can appreciate your opinion. Jessy, you read my mind.

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