There's a fine line between tipping enough to satisfy the minimum-wage life-living gap that service jobs create and tipping so often that you come across as a mad, rich, koala-skin-suit-wearing helicopter tycoon who uses spare $20 bills to clean his clarinet. Use this handy guide to determine when you should be GRACIOUS (but shouldn't tip), and when you should ADD GRATUITY.
YOU SHOULD TIP: A waiter at a restaurant. DUH. If you don’t know this by now please stop eating out. The restaurant is paying your waiter a less-than-livable wage by the hour, leaving them 100% dependent on the tips they earn to pay their rent, put themselves through school, and collect Magic The Gathering cards (maybe). Don’t know how much to tip? Refer to our handy percentage scale at the bottom of the list! Note that "Be good to your mother" never ever counts as a tip.
YOU SHOULD NOT TIP: After getting advice from a friend. You got dumped, you’re sitting outside of school with a friend and asking her what you should do now. Ignore him? Call him non-stop? Move to a different city? She gives you some level-headed advice based on what she knows of you both. Say, “Thank you so much Kristen!” and then offer to buy her some ice cream. DO NOT SLIP HER A $5 and say “Are you available at the same time tomorrow? I'm going to give you a good Yelp review, K-balls.” That’s not how a friendship works, people.
SHOULD: Haircuts. Manicures. Pedicures. Any type of spa treatment, body work, or cosmetic service. That lady just spent and hour cleaning the gunk out of your toes, give her a tip! She’s not receiving your $25 for the mani/pedi—the salon is getting that money, honey. She gets a percent of the service fee and most of her income comes from tips. And any time we open our slathered eyes in the middle of a lash tint and sob "Do you think we're beautiful?" we usually give them extra.
SHOULD NOT: After getting a compliment. Cute girl at the grocery store giggled and said you have nice eyes? Please do not hand her a dollar bill. The same goes for the gentleman behind the wheel of the semi-trailer who honked his horn at you while driving by to deliver Skippy.
SHOULD: Taxi drivers. They always get tips. They work on the 10% (bad), 15% (fine), 20% (great) scale. Some taxis have their tip calculators set to 20%, 25% and 30%, which seems a little high, but then again you're riding behind a man in his car like two strangers in a canoe ALL THE WAY HOME to your house. We err on the side of bajillionaire Monopoly man.
SHOULD NOT: Teachers. Yeah, they provided a service, they taught you something! They put up with you mixing up adverbs and adjectives all semester long! Don’t tip them on the way out the door. Buy them a present, write them a card, do something thoughtful (SKY WRITING!*), but don’t hand them cold hard cash.
SHOULD NOT: The guy who rang you up at the department store. We’re talking just the cashier in this scenario. If a sales associate spent all afternoon with you picking out a new suit for graduation, that’s a different story, but the guy running the register at JC Penny? He gets a smile, and maybe a quick bout of "running man" at the counter, but no tip.
SHOULD: Some home service workers like furniture movers, maids, and flower delivery people get tips. Always tip a man lowering a piano from a crane.
SHOULD NOT: Some home services workers like cable guys do not get tips. If you’re unsure, ask the company before the worker comes over, and feel free to offer them something to drink. Bonus points for letting them use a crazy straw!
SHOULD: Everyone who works in a hotel. We know that some of these are givens (the bell hop) and some are arguable (the cleaning lady), but we think that everyone who is making your home-away-from-home more comfortable deserves a few bucks. THEY MADE YOUR TOWEL INTO A SWAN!!! A SWAN!!!
SHOULD NOT: After a doctor’s visit. So you went in for a check-up or because of that dang cough you’ve had for weeks? Don’t tip the doctor on your way out with a “Get yourself something nice!” and tenner slipped into their hands when you shake hands. Chances are, they are going sailing on their yacht after your appointment.
THE ODDS AND ENDS
SHOULD: Tow truck worker, parking attendant/valet, food delivery person, coffee shop barista, dog walker.
SHOULD NOT: Car mechanic, dentist, guy who opened the door for you when he was exiting a building, police officers, random animal who crossed your path and made your day brighter, inanimate objects, your parents, DMV workers.
RESTAURANT PERCENTAGE SCALE:
- Bad service? Like, really bad? Maybe they had a super crappy attitude or got your order wrong and didn’t apologize? Tip 10% of your bill.
- Mediocre service? Got your order wrong, but apologized? Seemed a little frazzled and didn’t refill your drink as quickly as you’d like (but still refilled it and was checking on you)? Tip 15% of the bill.
- Good service? They got your order right and were prompt and professional? The service was seamless? Tip 20% of the bill.
- GREAT service? They listened to you talk about your favorite pet from childhood and didn’t recoil in horror when you asked them their name and started talking to them on a first-name basis? Tip 25% or more.
*Please be sure to proof your work if you intend on skywriting a message to your teacher. There's really nothing worse than seeing "Your my everything" written in the stratosphere if you're an English teacher.
How do you handle tip situations? Have you worked a tip-dependent job?