To tip or to slink cowardly away without leaving a red cent, that is the question. Or is that two questions? Isn’t that two questions? What was Shakespeare thinking? And was Shakespeare a lousy tipper as many literary historians now agree or did he throw money around like a mobster on his last night before going away to prison? Tipping is basically a way for you, the costumer, to make up for the pathetic salary of the person serving you (in many US states this is less than the minimum wage) because obviously you can afford it more than a guy who owns a chain of 15 restaurants. How much do you tip your bartender even if there isn’t a snowflake’s chance in hell she’ll go home with you? Tipping is a thorny and confusing issue so let’s get down to it.
In Europe they’ve decided that business owners can afford to pay their own employees so tipping is pretty much a thing of the past. When I first stopped tipping in Spain I thought that people were being unfriendly to me because of my cheapness. Boy, was I ever relieved to learn that the reason waiters and bartenders hate me is because of my long list of annoying personal habits and it has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t tip. In the USA it’s best not to buck the system so tipping is essential. But how much and to whom?
The first rule of tipping is that when in doubt, leave a huge tip. A good tip makes up for bad behavior. Uncivil deeds seem to follow me around like a Cub Scout troop. Take your pick: you can either be known as a great tipper or the guy who drove over the valet parker. If you aren’t in the habit of committing disgraceful acts when you leave home you may need our standardized guide to tipping.
Barista – My morning cup of coffee is without a doubt the best part of my day so leaving a great tip is worth it and not very expensive.
Bartenders - $1 a drink or 15% on the total. A small price to pay to America’s true heroes.
Waiter Staff – 15% - 20% and if you have small children in your party leave enough to pay for a power-spraying of the entire restaurant.
Delivery Person – Hook them up with at least a couple bucks. They either arrived on a moped or in some ridiculous vehicle with a huge sign on the roof.
How much do you tip the concierge in the $500 a night boutique hotel you’re staying at in Monte Carlo? What the hell is a concierge? Why would anyone ask a broke-ass writer like me questions like that? I’m more of a sleep-on-the-train-station-bench kind of guy.
Bellman/Porter - $1 to $2 per bag, $5 minimum.
Maid - $2-5 a day, more if you left a dead body in the room.
Barber/Hairstylist – In your case whoever was responsible for that carnage on your head is lucky not to do a little jail time, but generally 15-20% is about right. I tip big because I have beautiful hair.
Cab Driver - 10% or $2-$5 minimum. Tip more, of course, if vomit is involved.
Magazine Essay Writers
Can you really put a price tag on the joy you receive from reading a finely-written magazine article? The answer is “yes” and that price is $25. As soon as I write a finely-written article I’ll tell you how to send the tip.