- 18% is the universally-understood industry standard for service you really can't kvell about, but that certainly didn't detract from your experience. 18. Not 15. 15 is universally understood as cheap and ignorant, in finer dining places. Why should the type of restaurant make you tip more? We'll get to that.
- 20% is soooooo easy to figure out, it's painful. Move the decimal back one place and double it. Let's try a few practice runs:
$42 --> $8 (don't worry about small change)
$13 --> is this you and your fucking high school theater friends sharing a plate of cheese fries and some coffee for two and a half hours while singing show tunes and popping creamers open on your face like zits? Leave 100% Sometimes I think crappy tips are my comeuppance for my nightlife between the ages 15 & 17.
- Verbal tippers will share a ring of hell with TV evangelists, CEOs of pharmaceutical companies, and orderlies who abuse their patients. Seriously, there is no more fundamentally malicious joke on earth like you going on and on about what a great server I was and asking for my name again and patting my manager on the back on the way out going "She was fantastic!" and then leaving me 15%. I appreciate the warm fuzzies and all, but I'll appreciate them even more in front of a warm radiator this winter, assface.
- Okay, for those of you wondering why you should tip a server 20% or more - those holdouts from the Reagan years going, It's not my fault this dipshit chose to be a waiter - mainstream servers are generally divided into three strata:
Students and young parents, trying to eke out a living while pursuing something that will better sustain them and their families. They may have found themselves in a difficult situation and are diligently working their way out of it in a job that affords them scheduling flexibility and the opportunity to control their income with picking up extra shifts or getting lucky. This is where you come in. They may not have terrific command of the spoken word, make you feel all terrific about your choice of the pork chop over the chicken, or be able to tell you where your chardonnay came from, but they care about their jobs and your experience. This is a basic service and should be rewarded justly. Everyone is trying to make it out there, these people gave you something with kindness and efficiency. In this day and age, that's rarer than you think.
The professional.Otherwise known as "lifers," this group is composed not entirely of people who have fallen hopelessly in love with the restaurant world, with great food and wine, with the rigors and excitement of throwing a party night after night, for strangers, and watching some of those strangers become regulars and friends. Some of these people may act like they don't love their job - may in fact be plotting their escape into rock stardom, film, journalism or stand-up comedy - but don't be fooled: they're hooked. They read the Wednesday edition of the Times, know who Ruth Reichl is, and care about how the food looks when the kitchen puts it on the expo line. They'll lovingly rub a wet cloth around the rim of your plate, they'll explain their favorite dishes on the menu to you as if you were their own mother and father out to eat with them, they'll insist you try a new wine because it's a revelation with the rabbit! These people try (and sometimes manage to) not just to serve you food, but enlighten you. They are forged over countless evenings with the ability to "read" you right away, and know if they should silently support whatever experience you wish to have, or show you a good time. These are people who do it for the love and pride - many have degrees, even advanced degrees, but they chose to be with you and your miserable ass tonight, and they might have even made you feel better. That is priceless. That is worth 30% and more. Still feeling fussy about that? Imagine a world in which the only servers - no matter how upscale, chef-driven and exciting the restaurant - are type #1, because no one else will stay in this profession if you all tipped negligently.
- If you are going to tip poorly, dont take my pen. If you do take my pen, don't leave your shittier Kinko's-produced bic advertising your services as a real estate agent. If you think a waitress you just tipped 12% is in the market to buy or sell a house, I wouldn't trust you to find me an empty dumpster to sleep in, you dumb bitch. And another thing: I now know your work number. Your receptionist will be receiving a call with the results of your STD test sometime next week.
- If you tip shitty because it's the holidays and you think your money is tight, go to Jack in the Box. Word has it, they don't expect tips, and therefore don't build their lives on them, so that 15% will really make their day, whereas I am just an unappreciative asshole who has people waiting for your table that know how to budget for a meal out in a nice restaurant. Face!