Today I thought I would introduce a new series on LFG and it's all about manners. Some people think manners are antiquated, but I couldn't agree more strongly. While I personally don't have much use for knowing which fork to use (I'm a poor college student: I only go to places that have one fork!), I do think that there are some manners that are universal, yet plenty of people don't know about or disregard. If neglected, you could cause much more harm than just offending your great aunt who actually knows the difference between a salad fork and a dessert fork. And the first one I want to address is tipping. Or in other words...
Don't skimp on tipsWhile tipping isn't customary in a lot of countries, in America, servers are subjected to the tipping system. Instead of receiving a standard salary, their paycheck varies by how much customers have tipped them. While in theory this may not sound bad ("That just encourages them to be good at their job!" you might say), a lot of people don't understand how much of a server's salary is dependent on tips (employers can pay servers can legally pay employees less than minimum wage if gratuities are expected at their restaurant.) While you can sit around and blame the employers for compensating their workers so poorly, that doesn't change the fact that the servers need these tips so badly. Sadly, some people don't realize this (or choose to ignore it) and this is reflected in their tipping habits.
15-20% is pretty standard for a sit-down restaurant (my understanding is that if you have to place your order at a counter and clear your plate off your table, like at a cafe or burger joint, you don't have to tip, although it's a nice gesture), as well as for delivery drivers, hairdressers, cab drivers etc. If you need to calculate this, just multiply your total by 115-120% (you don't need one of those fancy tip calculators.) If the service is really good, you can tip a little bit more: 25% is generally the standard, which for a small bill, will only be a dollar or two more. I also like to tip more if I saved a lot on my bill (i.e. when I take my brother out to lunch and it's Kids Eat Free) because the server had to do just as much work, even if my bill is smaller.
If the service is bad, you might feel it appropriate to tip less (I still feel you should tip, since they at least brought you your food), although the most constructive action to take is to speak to a manager. This helps bring the problem to light for both the manager and the server, while a small tip could be construed as cheap on your part. Also, tips are often distributed between not only the server, but also the host, busboy and even the cooks. You might risk shorting these people just because you were unsatisfied with one person on their team. And speaking of shorting people...if you can't afford to tip at a restaurant, you shouldn't be eating there in the first place. I cannot emphasis this enough.
That's all for my tipping advice! I'll be back with another Classy Girl's Guide soon...what should I cover next?