Workers overlooked when tipping time comes; Standard 15% not enough for great service

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    A couple of summers ago, I worked as a to-go server at a Houston-area seafood restaurant. One day, receiving an order that amounted to a grand total of $175, I got hyped for a colossal tip to come that would pay for my next couple of trips to the movies. I spent about 20 minutes putting the massive order together, while falling dreadfully behind on other duties, and had the contents waiting when the recipient arrived.I was nothing but kind to the customer and graciously carried the gargantuan order out to her Lexus like I was competing in some strange version of the World’s Strongest Man Competition. Wishing her a good day and waving as she drove away, I hurried back inside to take a look at what kind of mouth-watering gratuity awaited. To my surprise, a big fat zero accompanied by the words “pick up” was inked on the tip line and seemed to be taunting me like some kind of elementary school bully. Unresolved childhood conflicts aside, I must have sat there with my jaw gaping for about two minutes before I regained composure. I could barely believe my eyes.

    Let me begin by saying that tipping is not a city in China. It is an expected courtesy for a job well-done in a variety of industries, especially in the restaurant business. The most well-known and widely followed law of tipping is to give your waiter or bartender a gratuity that amounts to 15 percent of the total bill after tax.

    However, many patrons don’t follow it correctly. That 15 percent should be what you tip for average service. If the service was excellent, the tip should range from about 20 percent to 25 percent. Anything on top of that is just gravy. Plus, servers remember who the good tippers are, and those grateful customers receive nothing short of the movie-star treatment on return trips.

    Under-tipping is strongly discouraged. Many times when the service is less than stellar, it is often a result beyond the waiter’s control. This could be due to a slow kitchen production or a night with an understaffed waiting crew. Plus, under-tipping is a surefire way to ensure poor service the next time you return to a restaurant, as no fiscally smart member of the wait staff would waist his or her time wooing a guest who will tip poorly. Even if you have a different server on your return trip, word will get around about your previously poor gratuity, and it’s all downhill from there.

    But who else should you tip? While everyone knows to tip their waiters, pizza men and bellhops, there are some more obscure professions that deserve to be tipped.

    It’s nice to tip the people who prepare your carry-out order. By no means is a 15 percent tip expected though, as about 7 percent to 10 percent should do the trick.

    Another forgotten soul is the peanut/beverage/cotton candy guy at various sporting events. It’s always polite to pass back a buck of your change as a token of appreciation. Also, whenever you enter an establishment with a tip jar next to the cash register, drop your change in or a spare dollar to liven the days of these often overlooked employees.

    While it may seem costly to tip so often, it benefits both the consumer and the workers. Employees get a little extra money and know their hard work is greatly appreciated, and consumers get a smile and good treatment on return visits. It’s win-win baby, win-win.

    David Hall is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood. His column appeared every Tuesday and Friday.