Saturday, March 15, 2008
Tip for the Week: Leave a Big One
We like to go out to eat. Not that we can often afford to, or feel like dealing with Emma at a restaurant either, but when we get the chance we do like going to sit down restaurants. And as we were out at one the other day I started reflecting on what an opportunity it is to be able to tip your server. I used to be a server in college and just out of a feeling of sympathy I usually try to overtip (unless the service is just overwhelmingly bad).

But I've just recently realized that leaving a good size tip is important for other reasons. It is one of the few opportunities we have in our regular life to actually choose to pay a decent wage to someone who most likely needs it. Consider what kind of people typically take jobs as servers (and I know this from experience): college students working their way through school, single moms trying to support their kids, wives (or husbands) trying to supplement a family income that may not be enough to make ends meet otherwise, etc. And serving is hard work: physically, mentally, and often emotionally too. In other words, servers are often people with financial needs who are working hard to meet them.

And unlike pretty much any other part of our economy these days, with servers we still get to decide what they get paid. Their take-home pay is not determined by corporate executives somewhere in Arkansas, or even by the management of that particular restaurant. Their income is determined almost entirely by the people who benefit from their services and goes directly into their own pocket, no middle man.

So if you want to help someone most likely less fortunate than you, then add a few percentages and a few dollars to your usual tip. After all, what's a couple more bucks on top of a $15 or $20 or $30 check? (Though if you're really concerned about saving your own money, then drink water and add the price of your drink to the tip.) Not to mention that 20% is a lot easier to figure out than 15% (just move the decimal point one place left and then double it). At the very least, you'll be making up for some skinflint who stiffed them at another table (or some senior citizen who hasn't realized that a 10% tip isn't standard anymore), and at best you'll be brightening their day a little and helping contribute to the needs of others.

So just a tip: leave a big one.
posted by Mike Clawson at 9:37 AM | Permalink |


At 3/15/2008 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Rick

Good one - I've learned that I don't hurt for the extra $$. I'm a 20%-er, and have been known to tip %25 for bad service or a server having a bad day, for precisely the reasons you gave. Might as well help since they're having a bad day and no one else is probably tipping as much. Thanks for that.


At 3/16/2008 11:57:00 PM, Blogger Chris Monroe

I'm always thrilled to see people drawing attention to this subject.

I, too, am a 20% tipper (well, that's my starting point), and frequently tip more. I've learned my money often speaks louder than my words. And what was it that Jesus taught? Something about our hearts (the real us) being connected to what we do with our money, right?



At 3/17/2008 05:33:00 PM, Anonymous Matt Scott

I've always tried to tip over 15% (I can't really think of a time when I didn't tip more than 15), but your insight about us controlling a fair wage is a great one. I'd never really given it much thought before.


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