Bill Simmons, a blogger on ESPN.com, was answering his 'mail-bag' column the other day and someone asked him how much he tips various people.
I've been a waiter, so I consider my self a decent tipper in general but according to Simmons I under tip. (By the way I have to agree with Open Bar that BS really just mails it in these days. He's a great writer but his columns are getting very short and seemingly more and more effortless). Anyway, you can go see what he says but this is how I tip various people:
- Cab-Drivers: At least $2, it's not really that dependent on how far I go. Generally it's $2 + whatever amoung of change to round it to the next dollar.
- Coffee Shop Counter People/Take-out/Dry-cleaners: Nothing. They have these mugs out all the time for you to throw money in but it seems to me that they don't really deserve a tip. I guess, ultimately, I think you only really need to tip if someone is providing a service that makes whatever you're buying better. The guy that goes and gets your coffee? Doesn't really matter if he's a dick or cool. No tip for you! Occassionally, I'll throw the loose change in but, by and large, nada.
- Hotels: I guess if you have someone carry your bags for you or something, you should tip them. I suppose you could also leave money for the cleaning staff but I never do. Maybe I should.
- Waiters: Almost always 20%. As I mentioned, I've been a waiter and it's a tough job. It also really sucked if people were cheap on the tip because you're getting like $2 an hour based on the expectation that people tip. Sometimes I give more if they're really dope or I'm just in a good mood or something. If they're kind of rude, I'll leave 15% I think a few times I've left nothing but you'd really have to piss me off for me to do that. As a side note, one great piece of advice or at least something that put things into perspective - during the ceremony before my college graduation (there's a name for that that is escaping me) the speaker was this woman who's a playwright that was a professor at my college - apparently she was fairly well known and had a few of her plays turn into movies. Her name was Wendy MacLeod. Anyway, she was saying you should be a waiter or some other type of job for a while after you graduate. It went something like, "Be a waiter, be a bar-back, be a cab-driver. Be a nobody so that when you're a somebody you won't be an asshole."
- Bar Tenders: Clearly you tip these guys but I've never given much thought. I usually use my debit card at bars these days but you're paying cash it's probably a good idea to tip big in the beginning to ensure good service throughout the night. With a debit card, I usually tip at least 10% and it goes up based on how fast/nice they were and how many buybacks they give me. 20%, I think is for someone that was really dope. Being a waiter takes a lot more work than being a bar tender in terms of the actual job (remembering food orders, drink order, people complaining, sending stuff back, etc.) but I imagine it can get pretty difficult to handle an overcrowded bar as well.
- Food Deliverers: These guys get the cab driver treatment, $2 plus loose change to round it out. Sometimes more, but generally not much.
- Shoe-Shine People: In NYC shoe shines seem to vary between $2 and $3 per shine. I pay $5 regardless of what the shine initially costs, so if it's $2 the shiner gets $3 and if it's $3 the shiner gets $2. There's a guy that comes around my office and does it for $4 but I've only used him once and the division's president happened to be retiring that week and was in a great mood so he paid for me but I guess I'd give that guy $2 becaues $1 seems cheap.
- Street Performers: If someone is pretty good, I'll tip them. Especially on a subway platform or on a subway itself. If someone is singing a good old song or something and doing it reasonably well, it can really bring some happiness for a minute or two. I'll throw them anywhere from pocket change to a dollar or two.
- The Homeless: I don't really tip the homeless anymore. When I first started going to the city I always felt bad for those people so I'd often throw them a couple of bucks. In fact, when I got out of college and got my first job's first paycheck I thought I was rich and gave one lady a $20 bill. In recent years, it's very rare that I give anyone anything. I guess I've just become desensitized to them, which sounds sort of callous.
My tip for you? Don't eat yellow snow.