UnderCover Waitress: Tipping in the USA

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tipping in the USA

An American by birth who has lived many years in England comments on his own confusion when traveling the states. He knows he is supposed to tip. But he feels that he never gets it right.

Actually, I think a lot of Americans who have lived here all of their lives often feel the same way. That is why there are books, articles, and entire web sites devoted to divulging tipping wisdom and etiquette. It only makes matters worse that they often disagree with each other.

Here is a common misunderstanding between waitress and dinner patron:


You will often hear 'is there change here?' in a restaurant or bar, and you have to think quick – how much change was there, is it between 15-20% or do I insist on getting it all back and then figuring it all out in front of the waiter or waitress.


While I agree with the author when he states in his article that it seems prices are sometimes set in order to result in the worker receiving tips. The example he gives is a vendor at a ball game selling $6.25 beers. Easy 75cents on most orders.

But when dining in a sit-down restaurant, the waitress is hoping that you will not want change not because she is some greedy cow. She is hoping she need not make change out of her own bank, realize that she is out of $1s, get $1s from the hostess after waiting for the busy hostess to have time for her, walk it back to your table so you can never pick it back up and leave it all anyway. Meanwhile, her other tables were getting antsy; thanks for nothing.

Sometimes, people actually add to the bill before leaving. I don't wish to sound ungrateful for the additional monetary compensation, but if you are ready to pay, could you please just leave everything in the bill the first time?

I remember the real winner who wanted her dime back. I don't even carry dimes, had to borrow one from a colleague. Then she left a dollar on the table. B****.

The author says something about not being able to compute 18.5% of a bill. Make it easy on yourself: tip 20%.

Tipping Traps




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