At our small group the other night we got into a conversation about tipping. Those who had worked as servers talked about how interesting it was the people who did and didn’t tip well. A customer who clearly has money might not tip well or at all. One of the women said that there was an older couple who would come in every two weeks. They clearly didn’t have much, but they would tip very well.

I’m a generous tipper. It actually caused a bit of tension between The Furry Guy and me in years past. (I generally handle the money in our family, so I’m the one who’s carrying the checkbook and most of the cash.) He felt like the minimum tip (which is 15%, by the way) was plenty, especially in a more expensive restaurant. After all, the servers make more in a more expensive restaurant. Right? Wrong.

One of the best things to ever happen for the people who serve us in restaurants was that our son became a server in a high-end seafood restaurant. That’s when The Furry Guy found out that even in the expensive restaurants the servers can be making $2.15 an hour. That’s right. It’s assumed that they will make enough in tips to make at least an equivalent to the minimum wage in other occupations.

Now he pretty much never questions the tip I leave. And, as I said, I tip generously.

There have been times when I’ve cut the tip drastically because of bad service. That doesn’t really happen anymore. You see, one thing that our son taught me was a better way to address this type of thing. In a lot of restaurants tips are shared— servers, hosts, those who clear the tables, and sometimes the kitchen all get a portion. So, by shorting the server you’re shorting others who might have done their job very well. What he does (and, what I’ve started doing) is still tip as though the service were average. Then, he speaks to the manager about any issue he experienced with the server. Now, this isn’t something to do if the server gets your drink wrong. It’s the kind of thing you do when the server spends 20 minutes on her cell phone while you’re trying to get her attention.

When the service is outstanding, I leave the server an outstanding tip. Serving is a very difficult job. It’s a thankless job—often spent dealing with demanding, rude, difficult people. Trust me; if you can brighten a server’s day, you’ve done a good deed.


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