Here’s a Tip For You

I have a tip for you. It’s around 15 – 20%.

Your mind races. Your palms are starting to sweat. Time is short, and indecision holds you fast.

Lemme guess: you’re calculatin’ a tip.

Nobody wants to seem rude or unappreciative, but there’s no need for panic, either. So I decided to come up with a plan. With another business trip coming up, I decided to leave home prepared this time.

Dining out: 20% and up for good service, 15% for adequate. When ordering an appetizer as a meal or sharing an entree, tip as if you’d had a full meal. Leave no less than 10% for poor service. In the U.S., tips go toward the server’s base wage. Only when the wage is met does a server receive a true gratuity, so leaving less than 10% may actually cost your server money.

Hairdressers and spa practitioners get in on the 15 – 20% rule. Same counts for bartenders, but bump it up to $1 per drink if the percentage is less than that.

Tip $3 to $5 for grocery loading, and 10% for counter meals or pizza delivery. Add an extra 5-10% for challenging deliveries. (The guys who package food in our facility here at the farm ordered pizza once just to see if they’d deliver it all the way out here. They did drive it out, and even though my guys tipped them generously, they asked them not to call again. C’mon guys. And I’m not referring to the pizza fellas.)

I suspect that if everybody got a bonus for challenging deliveries, the U.S. birthrate would be substantially higher. Just a thought.

Café tip jars: Tips here aren’t required (despite the implication), but give a little when you get a little. A barista who starts your regular drink before you order, sketches a heart in your foam, or slips a free cookie into your palm deserves a bonus.

Traveling: A buck or two per bag for anyone who touches your luggage, including bellhops, doormen, or skycap attendants (at least $2 per person). $5 to $10 goes to the concierge. But the best tip you can leave is a room that’s easy to clean for the next guest. (Pretend you’re the chambermaid coming in after you leave, and yes, they get a tip too. I usually leave $10 to $20, depending on how long I’ve stayed.) And I put the “do not disturb” sign on my hotel room for several days running. If I need more towels, I call the front desk. I figure I’m not only saving water, but helping conserve EFFORT in general.

Of course, especially inspiring towel animals deserve extra. (Who knew you could make kissing antelope out of terrycloth?)

And when in doubt about tipping … go for it. I’d rather seem overzealous than unappreciative any day. I even tip farmers at our market. (After all, they ARE a national treasure worth preserving, like a national park or an endangered species.)

  1. Joanna Fedewa says:

    As a server myself, I appreciate this post. Thanks Mary Jane for setting the record straight. And I realize that alot of people may not know that there are unsaid rules to tipping.

    Sometimes, places will also put how much the tip should be. For example at the restaurant where I work, if the customer pays for their bill using a debit or credit card there will be hints at the bottom for 10%, 15% and 20%.

    Plus, if you tip the server nicely and go back to that restaurant, chances are that they will remember. That server may also have told the other severs she worked with how nice of a tip she got. So then the other servers will also give you excellent service. Its the old saying of what goes around comes around.

  2. Tina Lemke says:

    While never having worked in the industry that receives tips, it just plain makes me happy to do a little something more for someone else. I don’t expect the waiter/waitress to “serve” me. I like to think of them as helping me enjoy a meal that I don’t have to cook or clean up. It’s a form of appreciation for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  3. Ginger says:

    I work fast food and tipping is not thought of by people for that line of work, but I can tell you when customers tip me I really appreciate it. I am a single mom trying to go to school and raise my kids and my job does not pay enough. Those tips when I do get them really help out. When I have some extra money and I get the rare chance to eat out, I always tip.

  4. Keelia says:

    I live in Oregon. In Oregon servers are paid minimum wage. I know this is different in other states but, in Oregon the tip is just that a tip. As someone who has worked for many years with young children making minimum wage, I always question our American value systems where restaurant servers make more because they are tipped than those who look after our children.

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