I think it’s pretty clear from this post that Jeremy has never worked in a restaurant. While a chef usually has a religious like stance on how a burger should be cooked, they rarely get the order wrong. Often times a screwed up order isn’t someone’s fault, but usually miss-communication since there is a lot going on in that kitchen. Or your server was so busy getting the refills for her six top and the apps to her two top and the credit card receipt to her other two top and the extra napkins for the three top with the four year old that she forgot to put in your request that your sandwich be made without mayo even though she wrote it down. It’s understandable.
Waiting tables is a tough job, and a good tip can make a crappy night bearable or even better, monetarily worthwhile, to someone making a few dollars an hour. This is assuming that your waitress, like something out of a movie I would roll my eyes at, is a hard working single mom, complete with pencil jammed in her bun, taking pride in her job.
Where I waited tables, most took pride in their job and worked hard. It made working in a restaurant, where there are so many jobs other than taking orders and getting food to the table, a hell of a lot easier and more enjoyable to have them there. As for the others … I have some great stories. Unless someone is completely terrible, I always tip 20% in the states. At the low end, they are making just over three dollars an hour, and at the high end, it’s still under ten. Running dishes back and forth and playing mediator between the oft-volatile cooks and the patrons … is bumping your tip up to 20% really a huge deal?
But Jeremy has a good point and I have no answers, but do come equipped with more questions. Where do you draw the line? Do you tip your hairdresser less if she owns the business then you would if she were an employee? When you’re paying an arm and a leg for your child’s lessons, do you tip the instructor? If someone delivers a cord of wood and the delivered cord is more expensive than the picked up cord, do you tip? While the plight of the restaurant server is relatively well known, these gray areas need clarifying. And while I understand that any of us would be thrilled if someone handed over extra money after interacting in a business deal, it’s not always so clear when it is acceptable, when it is necessary, and how much is necessarily acceptable.