Thoughtful Thursday: Tip

March 21, 2013

Thoughtful ThursdayMy mother was a terrible tipper. 15% was her max, but usually her tip was closer to 10%. As a kid I’d calculate a proper tip and insist that she leave that amount; she’d often try to sneak a dollar or two back into her purse as we exited, but I always caught her and put the money back.

In restaurants I’m usually somewhere around 18% unless the service is particularly good or particularly bad. When the bill is small, though, I often bump it up. When it’s a place I go often, I bump it up. When I’m on an expense account, I really bump it up.

I’m not always a great tipper, though. I rarely tip maids in hotels: it just doesn’t make sense to me, I dunno. For people like shuttle bus drivers I tip sometimes, but if they’re unfriendly or make me lug giant suitcases onto the bus while they sit watching me I refrain without guilt. I’m an inconsistent tipper when it comes to picking up takeout and getting counter service: should I really be tipping the same amount to someone who does nothing more than hand me a bag as I would to a waiter who attends to a table for an hour or more? I didn’t even realize that anyone tipped on takeout until a few years ago when I saw a friend tip $15 on a $60 order — like many who have worked in food service in the past, she is an excellent tipper. Now, I might tip 10-15%, or if it’s a bakery or something then I toss in a dollar, maybe two, which might turn out to be 10% or might be 40%. If I’m putting the money in a jar, I try to do it when the person is looking, not because I want to get credit for tipping but because I don’t want them to think that I didn’t when I actually did. I totally get that wages for many jobs assume a certain level of tipping, but sometimes I feel like it’s all an extortion scheme. When I was in college, the student-run pizza place literally had a Shit List of non-tippers; after a few times, they would refuse to bring you any more pizzas.

I’ve been to many countries in Europe that don’t tip in restaurants, or maybe something small like rounding up to the nearest Euro. In Japan, you don’t tip at all, for anything. That is one of my favorite things about Japan, that people try hard because they want to do a good job, not because it might increase their tip. I believe in the free market economy, but sometimes it’s lovely to get good service because the person chooses to give you good service.

What kind of tipper are you?