[I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the epitome of prim and proper- heck, who really is nowadays? But looking around at the misguided youths of today *ahem drinking buddies*, I’m starting to think that Miss Manners might have been onto something.
While you may never need to know how to greet a duke or how to tell which fork is REALLY the oyster fork, knowing how to deal with people whom owe you money, how much to tip, and how to address the ever annoying licorice-in-teeth conundrum without being rude might actually come in handy in the real world. I’m not trying to be your mother – oh goodness, no – I’m just here to help you out of those little etiquette dilemmas. So here goes: a quick lesson in etiquette. The sh*t you might actually need to know.]
I know that times are tough. The economy is in the dumper and our wallets are just getting emptier and emptier. These days it seems like I can’t turn a corner or walk into a bar without having to pay somebody something. Though I know it’s hard to choose between blowing your last dollars on another pitcher of beer or tipping the bartender, as a one-time waitress, I would never ever suggest skimping on tips. These service providers work hard (usually on a tiny salaries) and their paychecks rely heavily on your tips.
The other day, I was appalled when after ordering a heap-load of Chinese food, a “friend” of mine flicked the delivery guy a quarter and closed the door. A quarter. As in twenty-five cents. I literally had to chase down the guy and shove a few dollars at him. When I confronted her, she said she wasn’t sure how much to tip. I called bullsh*t, but it got me wondering if this is a real problem for a lot of people. So in case you were wondering, here is a tipping cheat sheet on who to tip and how much to tip them.
Waiters: Depending on the service, you may feel obliged to leave anywhere from 10% of the pretax bill to well over 20% (if you’re feeling especially generous). Here is the breakdown:
Good service: Did the server refill your drinks without being asked? Did he bring out the food on time? For adequate to good service, a tip of about 15% is expected.
Great service: Did the server remember your 12-party order perfectly… without writing it down? Did she ask the kitchen to burn the top of your macaroni just the way you asked? Was she quick to notice and replaced the dropped fork? If so, maybe you should reconsider the 15% tip and opt for something a little more. She deserved it.
Bad service: Even if the service is terrible, it is customary to leave at least a 10% tip. Maybe the waiter had an off day, but keep in mind that while you are out wining and dining, he is relying on your tips to pay the bills.
Bartenders: At the bar, leave at least a dollar a drink. If you’re out to make a good impression (which totally helps on Thirsty Thursdays when everyone is lining up for drinks) tip $2 for the first drink of the night. While you aren’t required to tip at a private party, remember that this is not the case for open bars. The drinks may be free but the bartender is still working for tips.
Valets: $2 for parking/retrieving your car. This seems a little silly to me. If you’re low on money, why bother with valet? Park your own car and walk a little further- it’s better for your wallet AND your health.
Taxi drivers: NYC taxi drivers are notorious for being terrible, but keep in mind that they make their living doing this. 15% of the total fare should work, granted you make it out of there alive.
Delivery guys: This goes for all deliveries- from pizza to dry cleaning to liquor. Tip them anywhere from $2-$4 depending on timeliness, more if the weather is terrible.
Hairstylist: 20% of the total is usually the standard gratuity, and don’t forget to tip the shampoo girl $2. If more than one person works on your hair (i.e. one person shampoos, another cuts, another colors, etc), leave the tip with the cashier and ask her to split it.
Professionals: Doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. Really, for what they’re charging, it’d be a crime to ask for a tip as well
The mailman: Can you imagine tipping the mailman every time he hands you a letter? You really only have to open your wallet around the holidays, when a “gift” of a couple dollars (around $20) would be customary.
Flight attendants: No, you do not need to tip them every time they pour you a cup of diet Pepsi. Smile and say thank you.
Waiters and/or bartenders at a private party: You do not need to tip the caterers at a wedding; their gratuity is included in the Host’s package price.
Butlers or maids… in somebody else’s house: Honestly, I don’t know if this advice will ever come in handy. The only personal maid I’ve ever seen (on TV, nonetheless) is Gossip Girl’s Dorothea and she doesn’t accept tips *coughbribes* from anybody, not even Chuck Bass.
Your professors: No. Just no
Lastly, if you really can’t afford to tip, then maybe you should hold off on certain services until you’re willing to pony up the cash. It isn’t fair to anyone and if you keep up the little cheapskate act, you’re going to find one day that the whipped cream on your hot chocolate isn’t really whipped cream.. courtesy of your friend the waiter.