The Weird Ins & Outs of Tipping


Howdy, fine Nerdship! I wanna talk about tipping today. It’s a sticky subject, and as a person whose day job is in the personal service industry (I’m a hairdresser!), I think it’s a topic worth clarifying.

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FIRST: What’s a tip?  A tip is a sum of money customarily tendered to service industry workers for services performed. It’s in addition to the fee for the service. Kind of like saying, “Job well done. Here’s some fun money for you.”

SECOND: Why? It is customary(and in some instances tips are counted as part of a person’s wages*).  It all depends on what kind of service and where you are. In certain situations, it is considered rude to tip, and in others, it is expected. If in doubt, ask.

*A large number of restaurant waitstaff in the United States make a very small hourly wage ($2.13/minimum in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act), with the expectation that their tips will be part of their wage and equal to or greater than the federal minimum wage per hour.

THIRD: Who/how much? Generally, I go on a case by case basis. Keep in mind the service you’ve received and your personal finances. Don’t overextend yourself on tipping.

At restaurants, I generally tip 20%. I will tip more if the server is super awesome (has good suggestions for menu selections, good attitude, keeps my drink topped off, checks on me often enough, etc) and if I order something from the bar (most servers tip out to the bartender). Unless I have been truly and heinously mistreated, I don’t tip less than 15%. In the case of a bad experience, I try to dissect it a little to determine what happened and most of the time, it’s not the server’s fault.

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Salon and spa pros: Depends! On average, I receive 10-20% and give 20% when I receive a service. Though, your personal finances, service price and length of time you’ve been going to the same person can weigh into the tip amount too. Some salons don’t accept tips, some do. If you can’t afford a tip of money, most salon and spa folks are pleased to receive a tasty beverage. I’ve received books, baked goods, and even a watercolor painting as tips for my work before. A coworker of mine once received a Coach purse. A bit extravagant, but like I said, keep the level of service you’ve received and your personal circumstances in mind.  🙂

Cabbies, the bathroom attendant, the porter, the bellhop… These are all tippable people too, but I have no clue, seeing as my life is boring. Google recommends 10-15% of the fare for the cabbie, and a couple bucks for the bathroom guy, porter and bellhop, as well as a few dollars per day for the hotel housekeeper.


Who do you tip? How do you feel about it?


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