Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I have recently been told that I can come across as combative. I know, I know. It's shocking that someone would say that about me. The context in which I was informed of this went a little something like this: "Rick is attracted to you, but he's afraid to ask you out because he said you can be a little combative." So how did I respond to this revelation? I immediately went on MySpace and changed my screen name to "Combative" to be ironic. Well, the irony of that is that it was the single most combative thing I could have done besides calling Rick and telling him to eff off. (Especially since Rick is on my friends list.) So I'm starting to think there might be some truth to it, and it's a hard thing to accept. But acceptance is the first step.

Last night, I was out with Jo, Bergle, and another friend, and we got into a discussion about tipping. It quickly deteriorated from a discussion to a heated debate between Jo and me. (Bergle, wise man that he is, opted to stay out of it!)

I found myself getting really ticked with Jo because she wouldn't admit that she might be wrong about how much the average tipper leaves. She claimed that it was 12 - 14%, and I argued that it was 18%. She was making the point that when she was a server, she usually made about 14%. I was arguing that, when I was serving, I used to pull in about 18 - 20%. This "discussion" went on and on and on with no resolution.

But how could there be? Here I was getting pissed because Jo wouldn't concede that I was right, but at the same time, I wasn't even considering the possibility that maybe SHE was right. Or that we were both right, and it really just depends on where you work. She had worked in places that catered to teenagers and a much more "mature" crowd (read as: OLD FARTS) here in Northern Virginia, while I had worked at places that catered to a 40-something crowd of regulars in a small town (and many of my customers knew my parents). If you've ever worked in the restaurant business, you probably already know that teenagers and people over 65, in general, aren't very good tippers. And people who know your parents are NOT going to stiff you. So really, we were both right.

This begs a question, however. What is REALLY the average amount that people tip on a restaurant meal? For me, the server starts out with a 20% tip. If they do a decent job of keeping my drink full, bringing me the things that I need, and keeping me informed if the kitchen is running behind, the will get 20%. If I have to chase them down for a drink refill or a bottle of ketchup, their tip will go down. If the service is really fantastic, I've been known to leave a 30 or 40% tip. And if the service is so bad that I feel inclined to leave less than 15%, I am probably going to end up talking to the manager before the meal is over . . . but I will still tip. And Jo pretty much has the same attitude about tipping as me.

But what do YOU consider the average tip? Most restaurants charge 18% gratuity on parties of 8 or more . . . is that the standard tipping rate?

And Jo . . . I'm sorry for being so combative. :-)


Jo said...

No problem. I was also not budging so I'm sorry about that! I'm surprised heated discussions like that don't happen more often between us :-)

I don't know where I got the 14% thing actually. I was just told that at some point in my life. I was always told that the standard is 14% and good service merits 20%. I rarely give less than 20% and like you sometimes more. My question, like yours, is what is the "official" tip amount?

Carrie M said...

I do the same thing you do - starts with 20% but I used to be a server too, so I'm patient but not for blatant stupidity.