Tipping is definitely an awkward arrangement. I'm just running around doing my job, and you, a complete stranger has direct control over how much money I make. I know a lot of people who frequently over-tip because they just feel weird about the whole situation. I've come to discover that the vast majority of people don't feel this way. So, the question is, where do we start?
Fifteen fucking percent. That's where we start.
Barring near complete and inexcusable failure to meet your standards(I'll elaborate later) 15% is where you should be starting, no matter what.
Consider the fact that most restaurants require their servers to tip out anywhere from 3-4.5 percent of their sales (Not tips) and you'll realize that a 15% tip is actually more like an 11% tip. In a very ideal situation a server is running about 100 bucks in sales an hour. That means if everyone tips 15% (they don't) and we're running enough tables(we typically aren't) we're making about eleven bucks an hour before Uncle Sam hits us up for his share.
Now, before I go into why you absolutely have to give us more money, I'll point out some circumstances in which it's absolutely ok to lower your tip:
Uncorrected mistakes of any sort.
Unexcused inattentiveness: Meaning that they sucked at handling you for no reason at all.
Attitude issues: Do not read this as "they weren't friendly". This is reserved for servers who are going out of their way to be rude for no obvious reason. Servers often don't have time to be overly friendly, especially towards a stranger(we have no idea how you define friendly) I'll break this down in a later post... I promise...
Back to the issue at hand. I try not to be greedy, ever. I understand that times are tough, though eating out is a luxury that should be immediately cut if you're budgeting. All of that aside, I get that people can't just drop 30% because they think I'm awesome. If I do my job, without much more, all I want is 15%. If I feel like I took care of you without you ever having to ask for anything out of the ordinary I'm hoping for 20%. If you tell me that I'm great, and I restored your faith in my generation, I'd love 25%.
The problem is, it's never that simple. So all I ask is that you try and take everything into consideration. Look at these two scenarios:
Table A's order: 2 waters, small app, split entree. Tab: $14.50
Table B's order: 2 bar drinks, large app, 2 premium entrees. Tab: $47.00
Now I've done almost an identical amount of work on both these tables, but the tip is gonna be vastly different. So the lesson is this: Consider how much work you're giving the server. If Table A leaves me 15%, I'm gonna be disappointed. Table B leaves me 15%? Completely understandable. Keep this in mind especially when you use coupons, it's especially annoying when people get free entrees and assume that the service is paid for too. I assure you, it isn't.