Folks, you can look at this as a Public Service Announcement, or a rant. I don't really give a shit. But it has to be said.
In the United States, when you eat in a restaurant, you tip.
Tipping is a sensitive subject, but it's a fact of life, and rather then sit around whining about how "you shouldn't have to pay a tip on top of the actual price" or "they did nothing to deserve it" you should just shut up and tip. Period.
There used to be exceptions. You didn't tip the owner of the business, or you didn't have to tip for take out. But now, you do. Yes, you do. Yes, even you. Yes, even if it's only for that. Yes, even her. You have to tip.
Let's recap the weekend, and we can discuss when tipping should have taken place.
Friday, I had a guy sit at the bar. He wanted a beer. He wanted the glass frosted. He wanted a lime. He had to put it on a credit card. So I had to spend about 10 minutes frosting, pouring, setting up, totaling the tab on the computer, running the credit card, cleaning up after him, and then the paper work involved in having a credit card sale. He did not tip me at all. Just left the "tip" line on the credit card receipt blank. I, however, had to tip the staff who brought the ice used to frost the glass, cut the lime, and washed the dishes. A good rule of thumb at a bar is $1 tip for every drink. Deal with it.
I also had customers who wanted to buy pastries. GREAT ! I love it when people buy our beautiful freshly baked pastries. Luckily we had folded up extra cardboard cake boxes, and I arranged all of the pastries in there. Awww. So pretty. I spent probably 10-15 minutes helping them choose, explaining the fillings, getting everything packed up, ringing it up, running into the back to get change for his $100 bill, etc. I had several tables that waited patiently for their drinks while I helped these customers. The people at the tables, of course, were going to tip me (at least, let's hope they were planning to - more on that later). The man who wanted all of that one on one "me time" for his pastry selection? Didn't tip. No tip at all.
I had a table of 5 people. English was not their first language. They sat at the bar, moved to a table, then decided they didn't like THAT table and moved to another table. They ordered round after round of drinks - one drink at a time. so I had to go back and forth to the table over a dozen times, just for drinks. And then they ordered sushi. One roll at a time. 8 rolls altogether. And then they wanted desserts. Which involves fetching a tray, bringing it to the table, describing each dessert, taking the tray back, plating the desserts with pretty decorations of powdered sugar and colorful syrups, and bringing the desserts with fresh silverware to the table. If I had a question, they would ignore me, and leave me standing there for several minutes while they finished up their discussion. But if I walked away, they would grab whoever was walking by, and ask THEM to go get them something, rather then waiting for me to return, or signaling me for assistance. So not only did MY other customers have to wait while I helped these bozos, but also OTHER servers had to take time to help them, or find me to pass along their latest request. The tab was over $200. They left me $10. That's 5%. For 2 hours of almost non-stop hustling. And they were the last people out of the restaurant, so we all had to sit around and wait for them to decide they were done.
So to recap. If someone helps you by making you a drink, or putting together a to-go order, they have devoted time to YOU, and you should tip them. Yes you should. For take out, that server has spent time on YOU and YOUR ORDER. So say thank you in the universal language of love. (Which is money.) This is why when the guy at KMart carried my TV out to the car for me and put it in the trunk, I gave him $5. Because he didn't have to. Because he made me a priority. Because he HELPED ME.
Times when it is OK to skip the tip? Well, here's the thing. You should always tip. You don't want to be THAT GUY. Very few times will people refuse a tip. It makes them feel good, both about YOU, and about themselves and the service they provide. You will get better service when you come back. It's good karma. YOU will feel good about it. It doesn't have to be a huge tip, but in a restaurant, 15% is seriously the MINIMUM. Feel free to use the calculator on your phone to figure it out if you are mathmatically challenged. Or you can do the math on the receipt - we don't mind at all. If you have experienced horrible service, and you have expressed your disappointment to the server, and the server has not tried to make amends, well.......I understand not wanting to leave a tip. I do.
But trust me when I tell you that everyone will know you didn't tip. Every staff member, every manager, and probably half the people within earshot of the waitstation will know you didn't tip. They won't know WHY you didn't tip, but boy oh boy, they'll know you didn't. And when you leave a crappy tip - like you just didn't feel like tipping the correct amount, and figured something was better then nothing....well, it's not. It's worse. It's infuriating and insulting. And it makes servers want to hand you back your handful of pennies and say "Keep this, you must need it more then I do." Which is why, Table 12, everyone in the bar after you left knows what a total asshole I think you are. And they all agree with me. Because you made a poor impression from start to (very belated and drawn-out) finish.
Regardless of that, I will be happy to wait on you, again and again. Because I work hard, and I love my job, and I am proud of the service I provide. I know what I am worth. If you had left your credit card behind, I would have run after you with it, for several blocks, even. My quality of service will not waver. Maybe you should work on your role as a customer, though. It could use some adjusting. About 15% should do nicely.
3 hours ago