Seriously. Where did we get these rules of ettiquette for tipping anyway? It’s all a bunch of hogwash if you ask me. We’re told that fifteen percent of the total cost of the meal is a good standard. Twenty is better. Some people tip only the taxable amount, some people tip on the entire ticket, blah blah blah. All hogwash. Let me tell you my rules of tipping. Feel free to print this out and replace your tipping calculator with it. It will save you a lot of money.
Rule Number One: The cost of the meal should in no way affect the amount of the tip.
If I order the lobster and steak with a side potato at a nice restaurant, I will pay probably upwards of twenty to thirty dollars. My wife orders the chicken fried steak and gets out for less than ten. And the waiter brings out our two plates. So at what point in this equation did we decide that the more expensive the plate, the more the waiter should make? If I order fajitas, then I should tip a little more. Because there’s the sizzling plate (a little more dangerous to carry) and the side plate with the cold fixings, as well as the bowl for the tortillas. So that’s three dishes the waiter has to carry. Always tip on a per-plate basis rather than a cost per plate. Just because I’m paying more for my plate doesn’t make it harder to carry!
Rule Number Two: Every waiter starts at the same amount, and goes up or down from there.
Come to the table with a pre-arranged figure based on how many people are in your party. I say a dollar per person. So at a three-person table, as soon as I sit down, the waiter is already getting three dollars. If I were to get up and leave before the drink orders were taken, he’d already have made three bucks. Not bad. Now, the trick is that he can sway this number with performance. Here is the subset of rules that determines how he does after he takes our drink orders:
- For every time I have to ask for a refill, he is docked fifty cents (.50).
- If I have to ask for napkins or silverware because they weren’t there already, he is docked fifty cents (.50).
- If he doesn’t write down the food order when he takes it, he is gambling. All is fine if he remembers everything and the food comes out just as we ordered. But for everything that is wrong because he didn’t want to scribble some notes, he is docked fifty cents (.50).
- For everything I ask for that he forgets to bring when he returns, he is docked a quarter (.25).
- For every twenty pounds he or she needs to lose, dock the waiter a quarter (.25). No one wants to look at a fat slob when we’re about to eat.
- Everytime he refills a glass without having to be asked, he earns a dime (.10).
- If he brings out everything in a timely manner, and everyone gets to begin eating at the same time, he earns fifty cents (.50). He can’t be docked for this, because sometimes they can’t carry everything at once.
- For every extra drink someone orders (like they get a tea and a water), he earns a quarter (.25).
- If he’s friendly throughout the entire experience, he can be credited anywhere from a quarter (.25) to a dollar (1.) extra.
- If a female waiter shows you some cleavage or flirts a little, she can earn an extra fifty cents (.50) to a dollar (1.).
As you can see there are some good opportunities for him to make a little extra cash if he’s good. But if he gets pompous and screws up your order because he didn’t write it down, or if he’s an ass or lazy, he’ll end up with not much to show for his serving you. I think it’s important to keep waiters on their toes because the business they are in is service. His job is a liaison between you and the chef. You tell him what you want, he tells the chef, and he gets it out to you. If he screws up somewhere in between, he pays for it. If he does his job superbly, he can make a few extra bucks. It’s all up to the waiter how much he’s going to make off me.
I hope this helps you calculate your tips. Waiting is not an easy job, but neither is deciding how much to tip. But with these guidelines we can keep them in check with reality. There’s no way a waiter should be making a ten-dollar tip off a one-man single-plate meal. Not unless she’s done something really special.