Serious Question: How Do You Determine Who Deserves A Tip And Who Doesn’t?

January 3, 2013  |  

While enjoying dinner with friends last weekend at one of my favorite bars/restaurants, we ordered so much food that our table was covered and barely had enough space for all of our plates. After catching up about where we were in our respective careers and with our love lives while scarfing down on Parmesan fries and fruity drinks with not enough alcohol, it was time to pay. Our server wasn’t the most attentive chick to ever wait a table, but she was nice, pretty helpful, and had done a good job in my opinion. I was back home for the holidays, and seeing the kind of service I get in New York, I would have been beyond satisfied even if she had dropped my food on the ground. When the check came and was split, we handed over our cards, and a friend of mine pulled out a small wad of cash to pay her bill. Once the receipts came back and it was time to figure out how much to tip, it was almost like pulling teeth. Out of four people in a party, only me and the friend sitting next to me were willing to actually tip in full. The two other women were either NOT going to or were doing the absolute least to break our waitress off.

“Are you guys tipping?”


“Aight, here’s a dollar.”

This statement about a dollar came from the same friend who pulled out a wad of cash right in front of our waitress, but when it was time to tip, she only had a dollar to contribute. My other friend sitting next to her, when asked if she was going to tip, replied with a “No, and I don’t care either.”

After some light squabbling back and forth between my side of the table and the other, I was able to convince my cash-toting friend to at least contribute $2 (about 70 cents short of the appropriate 15 percent tip–only amazing servers get 20 from me), while my other friend stuck to the same reasoning she had been using since we started all going out together in high school: It’s part of their job description, and if they’re not doing exceptional work, why tip them for doing their job?

Does she have a point?

As this last-minute conversation went on, the cash-toting friend tried to explain that she does tip really good workers, but that out of all the people on her list of possible tip receivers, she does NOT tip people who do her nails. “I mean, you’re not  going above and beyond to do my nails, it’s part of the job, so I don’t tip for that.” And that’s not the first time I’ve heard such talk. My sister-in-law once told me years and years ago that she doesn’t tip nail techs either, and barely tips hairdressers, depending on the work they do. I’ve seen the same people who will be adamant about tipping waitresses and waiters, or who even do hair for a living, NOT tip taxi cab drivers, and I’ve watched as a person bringing food to a hotel room my sister was staying in kind of waited like they wanted a tip, only to have my sister say “Thanks!” and close the door. She used to work as a waitress and will tip servers hardcore, but didn’t see why this staff member who brought the food (but didn’t cook it)  deserved a ducat. It seems that so many people have their rules about who should and shouldn’t get a tip and why, and nowadays, I just find myself confused, and tipping out of fear of looking like a stereotype.

While my friend might have a point when it comes to her tipping standards, you will rarely see me NOT tip someone if they served my table, and because I sometimes run around with people who seem to be cheapskates, I find myself often tipping more than I have to, to make up for where they came short on purpose. Only in instances of extreme disrespect will I leave a table bare (and that’s only happened once). And even though I don’t know for sure how to tip hair dressers, those who do my brows, taxi drivers (I just give a dollar or two, maybe three for a longer ride, but I’m usually in cabs for less than 10-15 minutes), I do my best to leave a little somethin’ somethin’ for those who do decent jobs, and a bit more for those who go out of their way for little ‘ol me.

But these days it seems that you’re supposed to tip just about everybody for doing everything. During a segment on the Today Show, folks were saying you should tip your service providers as holiday gifts. From those who groom your dog to personal trainers, doormen,  deliverymen who constantly help you, your favorite hairdresser and more. Even the man who took it upon himself to open the door for customers at Popeye’s in Harlem is expecting a tip, and he sure the hell will let you know how wrong you are if you don’t offer it up.

Being that there are so many people who do things for us on the daily, how do you personally determine who gets a tip from you and how much they get and who gets nada? I’m all for giving people what they deserve for hard work, but if they don’t go above and beyond for me, I can’t say that I’ll be going above and beyond for them with my wallet. What do you say?


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