Thoughts on Tipping?

DT18-P About a year ago, I spent a week walking around New York, awkwardly asking strangers if I could interview them to ask about tipping. I spoke with 123 people in total, all working in professions that involve being tipped and asked them a bunch of questions about how much they’re tipped, how often, how large a portion of their income tipping made up, etc. The goal was to get answers to the “Wait am I supposed to tip here and how much?” questions that infiltrate the lives of Americans and cause unending awkwardness.

I supplemented my own findings with a bunch of more professional data from the website of a tipping expert and put everything together into this post. In particular, I put the meat of the numerical findings into this chart:


The post made quite a splash. Apparently this is something people have opinions about.

So we decided to make it the subject of today’s dinner table. Here’s the plan:

People with jobs that involve tips (either currently or in the past): What’s your experience with tips? How much do people normally tip? What portion of your income comes from your tips? Any good stories? And how much do you think someone in your profession should be tipped? Do you agree with the info about your profession in the above chart?

Everyone: Do you consider yourself to be a good tipper? How much do you tip waiters? Food delivery drivers? How about when you get coffee and there’s a tip jar on the counter? Bartenders? Valets and coat checks? Are there any situations in life where you find yourself unsure of whether to tip? General thoughts on the custom of tipping? Thoughts on the American system where waiters don’t receive salary from the restaurant and the entire burden of paying the waiter is on customers? Given that, is it a moral obligation to tip at least 15%, even if the service is bad?

People not from the US: What’s the deal with tipping in your country? Which professions are tipped? How much are you supposed to tip in those situations? What do you think of the American system?

You can sign up for the Dinner Table email list here to be notified about the new topic each week, and remember to submit future topic suggestions to [email protected].

Home Archive