Monday, March 19, 2012

Handy Tip Guide ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     One night a few years ago I waited on these two nice Scottish ladies. They’d just been to Graceland™  and were on their way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame™  , or maybe it was the other way around. It was toward the end of the shift, they’d shared a bottle of wine and, while far from drunk, the Blackstone® Merlot had made them kind of loquacious and I got a lot of America-related questions from them. They were  nice and I didn’t mind talking to them. They wanted to know about a lot of stuff and I was glad I could help out a little. At some point they asked about the North American custom of tipping.
     They knew they were expected to tip something, but that was about all. They were really confused and wanted me to clear some things up for them. I showed them the ticket they’d already run up, it was about 50 bucks. I told them to get out one of their $100 American Express® Traveler’s Cheques™, fill in the name of the restaurant and sign it in my presence. Then all they had to do was hand it over to yours truly, smile, thank me ever so much and insist I keep the change.
     I didn’t really do that. I wasn’t fishing for any tips; they’d brought it up. I thought about other servers that might wait on them here in America. Except tor their chattiness -------- which I imagine they’d dial down a little if someone real busy was waiting on them -------- they were pretty low-maintenance. The ladies had a vague idea about percentages, so I went with that. I didn’t go into a lot of subtle nuances, like if they got a discounted meal or if they bought an expensive bottle of wine, except to say that if they were exceptionally well-cared for, they tip a little more than usual. They’d be going home soon and I didn’t see the point of confusing them or anything. I just wanted to help them not hideously mistreat anyone. So I mostly focused on tipping 15 %.
     They weren’t stupid or wasted, but for some reason they had a hard time with that. So I talked about ten percent. It took me a minute but I got them to agree that it was pretty easy to cipher out ten percent of any financial amount, be it pounds or dollars or euros or whatever. Then I asked if they could figure out half of that amount and add it to the ten percent already arrived at. Bingo! They finally understood.
      One of them had heard somewhere that you only tip on the amount the bill would be if there was no sales tax. I put a slightly stern look on my face at that one and said whoever had told them that was lying. Whatever percent someone tips, that gratuity should be calculated based on the total ticket. “Besides,” I appealed to their math-phobia, “just look at the bottom line and tip based on that. Make it easy on yourselves and don’t worry about the different sales tax ordeals you’ll run into in various American jurisdictions.”
     The ladies shared a dessert and got their check. They gave me the presenter and told me they didn’t need any change. I thanked them very much and wished them a good trip. I left the server book on the table for awhile and did something else. When I returned, their bill for just under $50 was in there, along with three crisp American twenty-dollar bills.

     That’s a very minor incident that I haven’t thought of in years. What brought it to mind was something that’s going on at the weediest restaurant in America, where I wait tables at night. They have added to the checks the customers get a “Handy Tip Guide.” Yeah, I’m fucking serious. There was no forewarning. It just was not there ever and then one day about a week ago it was. I don’t like that shit one little bit and I tear it off of every ticket before I present it. The only check I’ve presented that I didn’t do that on was the other night when I waited on some big executive with the company and his family who get comped anyway and on that one I just folded over the offending information (I got a good tip). The handy tip guide shows 15% and 17.5% (yeah, really) and 20%. Upon further study of this bullshit, I sussed out that these percentage amounts are based on pre-tax amounts. The weediest restaurant in America, when they suggest 15%, are actually encouraging their clientele to leave substandard tips! This is at a restaurant that does not allow an automatic gratuity to be added  to any checks, no matter how large a party is. I realize we operate in some areas other than here, where millage rates might be slightly different, but with the amazing arithmatical capabilities computers have nowadays, that’s no excuse. They shouldn’t be putting shit like that on their checks in the first place, but if they’re going to, at least do it right. I’ve got to get the fuck out of there.

     Have you ever heard of anything like this and how do you feel about it?


  1. I went to a bar recently that had 18%, 20%, and 25% on the bill. Slightly better for the server, but highly presumptive as a guest who was biting his tongue about the service. I'll take my chances without the guide on the bill and leave tip guides to those who write travel books.

  2. Dude, you keep up with what's happening in the biz more than I do; is this showing up at a lot of places? I can't even express how messed up it is on so many levels.