I’m a fan of tipping for service.  I go into a restaurant and will automatically start at 20%–I feel this is a good standard.   Most of the times, I hate doing math so I round up—never down—and my server will generally get more than 20%. (This is also the one time that we break our rule of not spending below a quarter—they get all the change-change if we pay in cash and this is not included in that 20%) Now if I have exceptional service? They get a larger tip.  I rarely go below 20%–it has to be a pretty bad situation for me not to tip my 20%. 

                For instance: when I was celebrating my birthday a few years ago, I was taken to my favorite restaurant.  It was really good Italian food and I was in love with their lemon chicken.  Normally the servers (who I knew shared tips with busboys and so on) got a 25-30% tip.  This time was entirely different.  I ordered my usual lemon chicken and the person I was with ordered some seafood dish.  Now when I say “I” ordered, I really mean they had to order it.  The lady waitress decided that I did not exist.  They never looked at me when the order was placed.  Ok, fine whatever. When she did the standard come back to check on how we are, she failed to bring me back my drink that I had asked for a good 10 minutes previously—instead, a busboy happening by (both the 10 minuets previous to this and 2-3 minutes after she left our table) offered very kindly  to bring me my drink.  I’m a slow eater and am usually still eating when others finish.  (Keep in mind though, I pay attention to rush times and try not to go over 30 minutes from when I’m served my meal.) This time was no exception.  She noticed my dining partner was done and came over to inquire about the meal and if they needed a box for their chicken.  They had NO chicken on their dish.  I said “No I not do need a box.” And she just walked off and came back 2 minutes later with a check and a box for my dining partner’s nonexistent chicken.  At this point I was just plain mad.  I didn’t want to stiff the busboy and others who shared in her tips but I also didn’t feel she really deserved much of a tip.  I left a small percent—maybe 10%–for her and walked over to the manager.  I explained the situation and handed over an extra 25% tip and let him know that I did not enjoy my service and didn’t feel she deserved a big tip but that this was specifically for the busboy and others who had taken care of my meal.

                However I also have this story: in college I used to go to a small café who knew my order inside and out.  (I don’t change when I find a good thing) I never even had to say it—they would just start it as soon as I walked in.  Now it was a smallish town and I knew that they all shared tips.  My bill never came to more than $15 for two of us—and that was with my normal 20% tip.   One day I happened to come into a little extra money than normal (Christmas bonus) and when the couple at the counter next to me left, I saw that they had only tipped a nickel.  The waitress didn’t say a word, just plopped it in the tip jar and just went on with her day.  My time came to pay and I went to pay my normal amount and I just couldn’t do it.  It was a week before Christmas and it was just me—I would have been paying about $8 with tip.   So I plopped down that and an extra $20.  Didn’t think about it.  The manager came rushing out and stopped me in the parking lot—trying to give me back that extra money.  I refused it and said that they deserved it.   Before I could walk away, the waitress who had served me came out and tried to give it back.  Again I refused.  I actually had to argue with them to keep it.   In the end they kept it—but wouldn’t charge me for my drink the next time.   I don’t know if the people couldn’t afford it but I could so I did.

What are your standards for tipping? Do you have a horror story or a great story?


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