Saturday, July 21, 2012

Is Tipping a Lost Art?

The husband/lover/best friend and I dine out fairly often now that our kids are all grown up, and, well, simply because we like to eat out.  Over the years, three of our four children have at some point held jobs as wait staff in local restaurants.  Currently our son Caleb is a server at the Longhorn Steakhouse in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.  He is working there TO EARN MONEY in the interim while he prepares his entrance file for a career as a U.S. Army aviator.

Caleb has come home from work many times, relating stories of customers' tipping (or non-tipping), and it seems that if one server is getting poor tips, it's likely a bad night for all the servers.  Caleb has the impression that people nowadays do not understand (or care) that a waiter gets an hourly wage of only about $2.85.  Other than that, the waiter relies on tips TO PAY HIS BILLS.

Recently I read a very entertaining and insightful book written anonymously by a long term New York City waiter - Waiter Rant.  Between what The Waiter and Caleb both have to say, I've come up with a list of what types of tippers are out there nowadays:

1.  The Verbal Tipper
     Caleb says he can spot this type almost from a mile away.  This person is extremely pleasant and smiley, and will effusively compliment the service throughout every course of the meal.  At bill paying time though, the tip will be really sh***y.  He lacks the understanding that waiters cannot pay their bills with verbal niceties.
2.  The Non-Money Tipper - Type 1
     Some diners leave a coupon or coupon booklet instead of a cash tip.  Waiters cannot pay rent and electric with coupons.  (However, coupons in addition to a hefty tip are always appreciated.)

     The Non-Money Tipper - Type 2
      Other diners leave a religious tract in place of a tip.  Surely they mean well and are legitimately concerned about the spiritual future of their waiter, however, again, a religious tract without a financial tip does not pay any bills in the here and now.
3.  The Cheapskate Tipper
     These people leave tips between 0% and 7%, regardless of the quality of the food and service.  Sometimes the macho man at a full table claims he will leave the tip (making him the hero of this large party which is often full of pretty girls), then waits till all have stepped away from the table.  He may throw down a $5 for a bill of over $200, because he wants the adoration but is basically a jerk.
     Senior citizens are known to tip low like this too.  A lot.  In spite of how large their bill is.

4.  The 1950's Tipper
     Diners stuck in the 50's era generally tip 8-10% on their total bill.  It can be generalized that they are either senior citizens or the Sunday-after-church crew.  They've always tipped in this range, and they always will.  Until the day they die.

5.  The Average Tipper
     Read any modern etiquette tipping guide and you will see that the average expected dining tip in the year 2012 A.D.  is currently at 20%.  Too many people still feel that tipping 20% on a good meal with good service is utter extravagance.  See the following chart.


6.  The Unique Tipper
     Waiters love this type of person to be seated in their sections.  This diner is kind, courteous, respectful, patient, and tips 25% or more.  There are not enough of these people.

7.  The Holy Crap!  Tipper

Enough said.
Do you eat out a lot?  Sometimes?
What type of tipper are you?


  1. I never tip less than 20%. Our son never tips more than 15% and it severely irritates me. Come on folks, if you can afford to eat out you can afford to tip. Wait staff have bills too.

  2. I always felt it was a really poor witness for Christians to leave a lousy or no tip! I try to be as generous as I can, our Emma is waitressing at Good Will's now, and she surely has good and bad days!

  3. I always tip 20-25% if the wait staff were good...if i hear other patrons giving them a hard time I slip them something extra just to show them that not all diners are the same...and to try brighten their day....its a gruelling job with a very low hourly wage they depend on their tips...

  4. I tip 15% unless it's breakfast, because that meal is so cheap but about the same work for the waiter(ess) and then I'll tip 20-25%. The prices of food have gone up so the amt of the tip goes up too.

  5. That makes no sense, Laura. Why wouldn't you tip more when your bill is higher regardless of the meal of the day? It's all about appropriate percentages. But I'm just a music teacher so what do I know?

  6. Clearly, none of you have had me as a server. You'd be throwing numbers like 45% and 50% around. ;)

  7. I would bet doughnuts to dollars that #6 are ALWAYS current or former waitstaff or the parents of waitstaff.

    As a former waitress I had to show my husbands just how much work goes into waitressing and how important a good tip is for good service. They had no idea and assumed 10 percent was good enough. I can happily say [before he passed] my ex and Pooldad are great tippers [20 plus].

    I can kind of see why they thought 10 percent was okay - both of their Moms, who were otherwise lovely women I adore, were the lousiest tippers. They never let me pick up the check, so I never let them pick up the tip. The waitresses love that. :)

  8. Beware...once you're marked as a shitty tipper...word spreads thru the staff and you will never get decent service when you return to the same restraunt.

  9. If your son was our waiter tonight - he was fantastic. He was pleasant, engaging and charming. One of the best servers I have ever had. Kudos to you for raising such a gentleman!

    1. Thank you! It must be a small world. Do we know you?

    2. I do not believe so as we were only passing through town. I hopped online after dinner to write a review for the restaurant on Google and/or Facebook and found your blog when I searched the restaurant and town name. We were so impressed with the service our waiter provided.