photo by consumatron
My husband and I are usually pretty generous tippers.
When we go out to eat, we always tip at least 20%. We often tip above and beyond that for exceptional service. I have never stiffed a server, even when the service is bad. I’ve been in their shoes, and I know that everyone has bad days. I also know that servers often make well under minimum wage without tips. To me, tipping is just a part of the cost of eating at a restaurant (which is part of the reason I prefer to cook at home).
I usually tip at least 20% at the salon, too. If my stylist is particularly talented or attentive, I often tip more.
At hotels, we usually leave $5 to $20 for the chamber maid depending on the service and the length of our stay.
When we moved here, we hired movers to unload our truck since we didn’t have family and friends nearby to help. We tipped about 30% because it was back-breaking work in 100-degree weather, and we were so grateful that we weren’t doing it ourselves after driving for 3 days.
I guess I’ve always viewed tipping as sort of a luxury tax. If we make the decision to pay someone for services we could do ourselves, then we tip to show our appreciation. The better the service, the higher the tip.
I’ve always thought that if you can’t afford the tip, then you can’t afford the luxury.
Over the weekend in D.C., we parked our car at a garage near the hotel. The garage offered a discount for guests, but it still cost $15 a night.
When we arrived to pick up the car, we were in a hurry. I’m used to self-service garages, so I was surprised when the attendant walked off with the keys to pull the car around. It was parked on the first floor of the garage about 50 feet away from where we were standing, so I was a little confused as to why we needed valet service.
We had used the last of our cash to tip the chamber maid in the hotel. When the parking attendant waited expectantly by the door, we didn’t have any cash to give him.
As we drove away, I felt guilty. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why.
If we had requested valet because the car was parked far away or outside in the rain, we would have gladly offered a tip to show our gratitude for the service. If we didn’t have cash for a tip, we’d walk to the car no matter how far away or rainy it was.
But is a tip required when you don’t request the service or even want it? In this case, I would have preferred to get the car ourselves. I wasn’t really comfortable with a stranger driving it.
These are all thoughts I had after we drove away. We didn’t refuse to tip the valet out of principle — we just ran out of cash. Even though we hadn’t requested valet service and the car was only 50 feet away in the sheltered garage, we would have given him a tip out of habit if we’d had the cash. If there was a line for a tip on the receipt when we paid our parking fee, we would have added one simply because it was expected.
I usually tip to show gratitude, but this experience made me realize that sometimes that’s not the reason. Tipping is so ingrained in our culture that I often tip just because it’s expected.
What about you? Do you always tip when it’s expected, or are there instances when a tip is expected and you don’t give it?