A gentleman knows when and how to tip those who serve him. The unmannered and uncouth do not. Tipping an individual, while not mandatory, should always be done. The only occasion you should not leave a tip is if the service was completely horrendous and the person providing the service made no attempt to remedy the situation. When tipping, you should do so discreetly. Showing off how much you tip does not impress people, but only shows you are a shallow cad. Nonetheless, gray areas in regards to tipping often exist. So read on gents, as The Art of Manliness answers all your tipping questions.
The difference between regular jobs and many jobs that require tips is that they are service jobs, and they are called service jobs because they are directly serving you. They personally and intimately affect you. You do not need to always tip people like tow truck drivers or baristas, and you do not have to tip people for doing their job per se. But you might think about tipping people for the following reasons:
1) If the person went above and beyond regular service. It is just a way of showing gratitude for a job well done and going the extra mile. Some people say, “Why do I have to tip people for doing their job?” To them I respond, “Does the company you work for give bonuses after a project is completed successfully?” And what is a bonus if not just a very large tip? When bonuses are offered, people do not generally say “There is no need to give me a bonus. I was just doing my job.”
2) To show your gratitude. Another word for tip is “gratuity.” Many people in service jobs are overworked, underpaid, and unthanked. At your job when you do something right, your supervisor says “thank you,” and “job well done!” Who says thank you to the trashmen? Many service jobs are jobs we don’t want to do, and we are grateful people are there day in and day out doing them for us. Our trash gets taken away, our mail gets delivered, our food is served to us. Their pay often does not match their effort. Who thinks that teachers’ pay is commensurate with the work they put in? Tipping is a way to say “thank you” to those who rarely hear it.
3) Tipping ensures great service. This is especially true of people who perform service for you regularly. If you tip a barista at a coffee shop you frequent, or a waiter at your favorite restaurant, they will give you even better service next time. For example, I used to work at a pizza place and when an order came in, if the pizza delivery guy recognized the name, and remembered they were a big tipper, they would bust their butt to get the order out. They would even take the tipper their order BEFORE orders that had come in earlier. If an order came up for a name they recognized as a bad tipper, they would deliver that order later. Similarly, when I worked at smoothie place, this one customer would tip us very heavily every time she came in. So during her visits we were practically falling over ourselves to get her order out. We would start making it even before she paid. And we would always throw in extra goodies. So in things you do regularly, generous tipping is certainly not essential, but can guarantee you better service.
4) That person’s livelihood depends on our tipping. An unsettling number of people don’t seem to realize that many service workers in the US, like waitresses, do not get a regular hourly wage. They get paid something like $2.50 an hour. If you don’t tip, they could end up making less than minimum wage. Tipping in these cases is not optional, but necessary. I know our non-American readers will criticize a system that doesn’t pay everyone a decent wage with benefits. But such criticism will not change the current reality. Plus, if companies were to start paying everyone a living wage plus benefits then the cost of goods and services would rise. Thus, you would end up paying out of your pocket anyway. So if you deeply believe in everyone receiving a fair wage, then why not do your part to make it a reality now?
“What money is better bestowed than that of a schoolboy’s tip? How the kindness is recalled by the recipient in after days! It blesses him that gives and him that takes.” ~William Makepeace Thackeray
How Much Should You Tip?
(Note: Tipping guidelines differ from country to country. This guide is intended for those who will be tipping in the United States.)
- Housekeeping at the hotel. A good tip for housekeeping is between $2 to $5. Don’t just leave cash on the nightstand. It might not be clear to your maid that the money is for her. Make sure to leave the tip in an envelope marked for housekeeping.
- Tour guide. Tip between $1 to $5 per person in your group.
- Skycap or bell hop. $1 to $2 per bag they lug for you. If you’re running late and the skycap books your luggage to your plane so you can get there on time, bump up the tip.
- Doorman. Only tip the doorman at a hotel if he gives you a hot tip on the best places to eat or visit while in town.
- Massage Therapist. Give 10 to 20 percent of the total cost.
- Nurses. Usually tipping nurses at hospitals is not permitted, but don’t tell that to my wife’s Italian grandma. She’s a retired nurse and believes you should definitely tip nurses and other health assistants. Any time she’s at the hospital you can guarantee she’s getting the best service because she gave her nurse “la boost.”
- Valet parking. $2-$5 for the valet who parks your car, and $2-$5 for the valet who later retrieves it.
- Baristas/Smoothie Makers/Ice Cream Scoopers. It seems like all these types of establishments have tip jars nowadays. Spare change is always appreciated. If the barista starts making your order as soon as you walk in so that its ready for you by the time you get up to pay, tip a little extra. If they sing a song when you give them a tip, ask them to not sing it or you’ll take the tip back.
- Hairstylist. Tip 15% of the cost of the haircut.
- Takeout. If you order takeout from a restaurant make sure to tip the cashier a bit. While they weren’t waiting on you hand in foot, they did have to bust their butt to get your order together and ready. If they help you take your order out to the car, tip a bit extra.
- Car washer. $3 bucks is good for a basic car wash. If they take extra time in when detailing it, give 10% of the cost of the wash.
- Tattoos/Body Piercings. 15% of the total cost. If the tattoo artist does an amazing job of capturing the image of your mother on your arm, tip extra.
- Tow Truck. It depends on what services the person provides. If they jump your car or change your tire, tip about $4. If they tow it, $5 is good tip. If they are towing you away from a no parking zone, give them the finger.
- Bagger at the grocery store. Typically, people no longer tip grocery baggers. It’s not necessary, but definitely a nice gesture. $1 is a good tip.
- Newspaper deliverer. During the holidays, give them a card with $20. My in-laws do this every year and as a result, they have their paper delivered straight to their door instead of just thrown on the driveway.
- Pizza/Meal delivery. 15% is customary. If the weather is bad, i.e. there’s snow and ice or a tsunami, and you’re risking the delivery guy’s life so you don’t have to risk yours, tip extra.
- Furniture/large appliance delivery. $5 per person. If they stick around and help you assemble or rearrange your furniture, tip extra.
Out on the Town
- Waiters. 15 to 20% is customary. If they do an exceptional job, pay more. If you come in with a large group make sure to ask if gratuity is added into your check so you don’t tip them twice. (Of course, as a former waiter, I always appreciated it when someone gave me a little extra in addition to the gratuity.) Be extra generous when you’re on a dinner date with a new lady; she’ll be sure to steal a glance at the tip line of your bill to see if you are a cheap loser or a real gentleman.
- Bartenders. 15 to 20%. Again, if they do an excellent job give more. If you come during happy hour and down 20 $.99 cent draws, don’t just leave 15%. Bartenders have to bust their butt to get those things poured for you and deserve more than just your change.
- Casino. There are lots of people you could be tipping at a casino. First, you have cocktail waitresses. 15% is customary. Many people tip dealers when they have a successful run, ensuring the continuation of good karma.
- Taxi. Standard tip is 15%. If they get you to your destination quickly, tip extra.
During the holidays, it’s customary to give a little more for the everyday services we receive. Here is just a short list of people you should consider giving “la boost” to during the holidays.
- Mailman. It’s against federal law to tip federal employees, but they can accept gifts of less than $20. But most will probably look the other way if you give more.
- Garbage/recycling man. These guys have a dirty job, recognize their work around the holidays by giving them a tip. $10 per person is nice.
- Teachers. If you have kids in school, it’s usually customary to give their teacher a small gift at Christmas time. It doesn’t have to be big. Here’s a tip: teachers get box loads full of body lotion, candles, and various apple themed knickknacks (no, you’re not the first person to think of giving them an apple-shaped paperweight). Give them something they’ll really enjoy like a gift card to Borders or Target.
- Babysitter. A gift in addition to their normal pay is nice. Gift cards are always appreciated.
- Cleaning person. An extra week’s pay or a nice gift.
Listen to our podcast with David Coggins about modern etiquette, including tipping: