Tell Me Your Tipping Stories!

I am looking to interview individuals working in the professions listed below. Even if you are not in the geographic area I’ve specified, I’d still love to talk to you. The people I interview can remain as anonymous as they wish!  If you or someone you know works in the occupations I’ve listed, please contact me at waiterrant@yahoo.com. Readers! If they’re are any “tipped” professions you’d like me to cover in my new book, please leave a suggestion in the comments section.

If you or someone you know owns or operates a hotel anywhere on the West Coast, Boston, or Chicago that employs maids, doormen, and bellhops, Please email me!

Bellhops (anywhere)

Hotel and Motel Maids (anywhere)

Hair Salon Owners! – Memphis, Tennessee! (Very specific here!)

Sex Workers – Las Vegas, NYC, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami.

Taxi Drivers – Los Angeles, Detroit, Dallas, or Chicago.

Limo Drivers – Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or New York City area.

Diner Waitress – Montana, Idaho, the Dakotas, Colorado, or Wyoming

Sky Caps – All major NYC or LA airports

Furniture Deliverymen – Portland, Oregon. NYC, Chicago

Professional Movers – New York Area, Chicago, Dallas, Houston.

Coat Check Attendants – NYC, Los Angeles, Portland, Miami

Bathroom Attendants (restaurant or nightclubs) – NYC, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia

Car Wash Attendants (if you work or own a car wash, please contact me!) New York Area, Los Angeles, Miami.

Golf Caddies – Florida, Georgia, or the Carolinas (Hilton Head?)

Charter Boat Fishermen – Florida, San Diego or anywhere, actually!

Cruise Line employees!

Employees at “all inclusive resorts.” (Please call Club Hedonism!)

French Waiters – that’s right, from France!

Car Valets – Los Vegas and Los Angeles

Cigar Waiters (NYC or anywhere!)

Cocktail Waitresses – Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago. (Will that young woman I met from the Pink Elephant in NYC drop me a line?)

Starbucks Baristas – Anywhere in the US!

Water Taxi Driver– Miami

UPS Drivers – NYC area.

Take Out Deliverymen (Pizza Delivery, Chinese, Sushi, whatever) – New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland.

Thanks for your help everybody! 


Comments

Tell Me Your Tipping Stories! — 71 Comments

  1. Quick note; don;t have an idea for a profession you have missed right now but perhaps you could include A little trip up north to Canada and visit some of the tipped jobs here and see how if at all the economic turn down is affecting us and you can compare that to the US issues you are looking at. Perhaps a few interviews of starbucks employees in Buffalo (Niagara region) and in Canada in Niagara Falls. It would be understandble to expect americans to go to the canadian side every now and then and vice versa so you could look at whether the employees of restaurants or other such places know if its an american (or canadian) based on the tips they get and how has the canadian economy been hurt and its effect on tipping is it as bad? is the economic stimulus package up north hitting first helping here? I don;t know it seems like it would be pretty cool. And hey a little trip up north could be fun for you too :P Love the blog btw, check it like a crack addict and great book cant wait to read this next one (god I sound like a 12 year old girl sending fan mail to lance bass not knowing he’s gay)

  2. One tipping profession of note that you missed: poker dealers (or other dealers of games like blackjack). I play poker semiprofessionally, and tip very evenly, a dollar a pot, or very rarely more. Other players tip more for big pots, or stiff the dealers if they don’t like them.

    I like tipping as a way of paying the dealers because it encourages them to deal fast. The more hands, the more tips. On the other hand, the main effect seems not to be fast dealers, but more young female dealers, who presumably make better tips (though I don’t vary based on attractiveness).

    I gather they make most of their money via tips, and do pretty well.

  3. I’ve worked in the restaurant biz almost all of my young life. I found that there is very satisfying way of getting back at people who tip you a penny.

    If you act fast, you can chase them out to the parking lot, and then, with a little show business, say this, ” You know, when i saw that you had tipped me a penny I was really upset. I thought i’d given you good service this evening and i was really pissed… Until I noticed that this was a 1913 culver city mint penny and in damn good condition. This penny is worth about 6000 dollars. So THANK YOU! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    Obviously, you should not offer to sell the penny back to them as that constitutes fraud.

    Cheers.

  4. I have a friend who owns a salon in Memphis, which is where I live. Tell me more about the type of salon you are trying to target so I can make sure hers fits the bill!

  5. You missed one. What about corporate CEOs? Aren’t those bonuses considered tips? Incentives for them to do a good job?

    Oh wait… I guess that’s not what you meant.

  6. How about not limiting the baristas to just those from Starbucks? Your independent coffeehouse owners/baristas will have even better stories than those from Starbucks. Trust me.

  7. My son is a pizza delivery driver — trips are the same, but tips are way down. And the chains pay terrible – like $1.00 per delivery to the drivers, even thought they charge you $2.00 or more, and even though the driver uses his own car, gas, etc.

    And damn, I didn’t know you were supposed to tip the UPS deliveryman. Shoot.

  8. Oops, I see that was already the last one that I missed. If you need a name and phone number for Pizza Hut deliveryman, just ask.

  9. Massage Therapist

    Hotel Concierge

    non-cards dealer (my husband places bets for the Craps dealers as tips, and will even tip a really good roller if he wins a lot of money off their rolls). In fact, you could end up with a whole chapter on tipping in Las Vegas, since you can buy any service you want there. For example, while the poker room managers are usually not allowed to accept cash tips, we’ve given expensive liquor as a “thank you” when they’ve helped us get good deals on rooms, etc.

    Can’t wait to see what you uncover in this little-documented population!

  10. Don’t forget your paper delivery man!! They get paid crap to get up early in the morning and drive/walk in snow, rain, cold, heat, ect. and NO ONE remembers to tip them anymore, I know I did it for over a year!

  11. Memphis hair salon owners must be different. Here in the Midwest, hair salon owners do not accept tips. Their stylists, estheticians, etc. do, but a salon OWNER does not.

  12. Perhaps you have already touched on this and I missed it, and if you have, I am sorry. But what about Washington, D.C.? With everything that goes down in that city I am sure there are some good tipping or non-tipping stories…

    Just a thought.

  13. I work at a retail store where, if a customer tips us for helping to put a package in their car, we’re technically supposed to put that tip into an “employee fund.” This is extremely petty on the store’s part, as though a tip is unexpected and always generous, it is often a small amount of money.

    Just another way to look at tipping…

  14. Interestingly, you don’t have a lot of requests for San Francisco. Is it because we’ve already been so generous with you when you’ve been here, or do you just need to visit?

  15. Personally, I think buffet waitressing is in a completely different league, and I have 5 years of horror stories to prove it! But it is a different take on the server thing, when you don’t take order or always have meals for a table as people can just order the buffet… Just a thought.

  16. Sorry I can’t help you out, just wanted to say that I am really excited to see Portland on your list of places! Can’t wait to read this!

  17. My Dad use to work as a tour guide around the Australian outback and would get an eclectic mix of ‘tips’ from cash, to strange gifts they brought along the way.
    My partner use to work as a waiter in the highrollers gaming room at a casino in Darwin Australia, were the predominately Asian gamblers would tip more, the more they lost hoping to have the good fortune returned to them!
    Jack

  18. My husband is a field guide in the Kruger Park in South Africa. He gets up at 4 in the morning to ensure his guests have hot tea and coffee before they go on their daily game drives, he is an expert at finding game and most get to see the big five on their first day. he usually goes to bed at around ten at night after having made heir dinner barbeque and then cleaning up and preparing for the next day. The tips he recieves are apalling as the south african currency is so weak and people assume because of that they can give less. The average tip he gets for a four day safarin that costs each guest in the region of 800 $ is about 20$.

  19. Hi Waiterrant , if you are interested I can talk about how tips have kept up with inflation in the past 25 years or so. Well on the other hand how tips have not kept up with inflation. For most service industry personnel what is considered a fairly good night now let’s say over a $100 was still what you made back in the 80′s. Meanwhile everything has gone up. I am up here in Canada.

  20. Not in the area you mentioned, but I waitressed at a truck stop/diner all through high school and college in Iowa. The truckers were GREAT tippers and a pleasure to serve. 99% of them were polite & generous and I almost never got a difficult customer.

    The old ladies on the other hand… I still have nightmares. I can’t remember how many times I had to preheat their coffee cups with hot water and even put the coffee or hot water in the microwave to get it hot enough for them – then they’d proceed to spoon ice into it!

    I also waitresssed in a hotel/convention center. That was an interesting way to judge how different groups of people tipped. Cat show & coin show people? Terrible! Picky and demanding and bad tippers – and those cat show ladies would pitch a fit when you wouldn’t let them bring their cartload of cats into the restaurant with them. But the Star Trek conventions were a blast! Good people – and being able to recognize their costumes and commenting on how “authentic” they looked always scored bonus tips!

    The worst tippers BY FAR were the Amway conventions! I set up & served 60 of them buffet-style one afternoon and didn’t get a single tip. Only business cards trying to “recruit” me into their little cult.

    Don’t forget room service servers. That is one of the worst jobs. Most hotels don’t have nearly enough staff in room service so those poor souls end up running their tails off.

  21. You should visit a Renfair to see a whole subculture built around tipping. I’m pretty sure that the people in the shows, doing comedy acts and singing and such, don’t have any regular or guaranteed income from their acts. They’re essentially street performers in a structured setting.

    The last one I went to had a guy dressed up as a giant tree, like an Ent from Lord of the Rings, who would slowly amble about on his stilts, stop, let people take pictures, and rattle his gourd to remind them to throw in a buck. It was a great costume.

  22. I grew up in Idaho and worked in a variety of tipped professions.

    Furniture Delivery – never received a single tip in about 6 months of work. That included the time I put a sofa-bed on top of the delivery truck so we could deliver it to the upper level of an A-frame house near Sun Valley.

    Casino – the tipping culture in casinos could fill a book all by itself. As mentioned here earlier, the dealers are tipped. Hourly wages were sub-minimum wage with tips pooled and distributed according hours worked on shift. There was a huge set of rules regarding the distribution – it started with person-hours worked, but compensation was also given to those on medical leave unless that leave was due to a self-inflicted injury, unless that injury was pregnancy. I worked the main bank, and main bank got a 1 person-hour cut of the tips for doing the calculations. Some nights it was three bucks, but I remember a great night just after the sugar beet harvest where I got a $62 cut, which represented one hour of tips. On another night, an A-list Holywood start tipped me $90 even as he lost $20K on a craps table with a 25-cent minimum bet.

    Pizza Delivery – a buck a house was usual, with five bucks for beyond-the-call-of-duty service. One particular doctor’s wife would tip $8-$10 per $70-$100 order for her poker party, but I was also hauling her 3 bottled-water delivries into the house and putting one on the cooler. She’d specifically ask for me every single time.

    Hotel Desk – crummy tips, but occasional tips were a nice benefit. Tips for banquet set-up/take-down were charged to the customer bill, and then added to paychecks. My favorite ones were always when performing groups or bands would tip me two tickets to their event. I managed to get a shout-out from Three Dog Night for being their “man with the baseball bat at the front desk” in Pocatello. (A 6’3″ guy with an aluminum bat ends any argument.)

    Short-Order Cook – tips only for exceptional effort – wait staff made the same base wage I did, but they got to keep the tips. Got $50 once for making Rocky Mountain Oysters special for a group that brought in their own “meat”. Slice thin, season with salt, garlic, and black pepper, batter and deep-fry. I probably would have been in big trouble with the boss for going to that kind of effort, but they were great guys and went though a lot of fries and beer in addition to the beef they ate.

  23. This is off the subject, but I would like to see your next book as a guide for servers. I have been a server and a bartender so I tip very generously…most of the time. I recently went to a restaurant and had one of the worst servers ever! When I asked what the soup du jour was she told me that she didn’t know but it was on a sign by the tureens. She answered her cell phone while taking our orders, etc. I spoke to her manager about her need for additional training. I see a “Serving for Dummies” in your future!

  24. Let me add that the restaurant manager is a personal friend of mine and I was not attempting to cause trouble for the server. She truly needed training. Her lamentable skills were bad for her and the business.

  25. Just as an aside:

    There is no tipping culture in Australia (all service people make a decent wage, ($18+/hour) and their food is in general much more expensive. That being said, becuase waiters aren’t working for a tip, you CAN’T complain about over/under cooked food/wrong order/ridiculously long wait/etc. or they’ll spit in it (or worse). This comes from many confirmed stories of fellow Aussie wait-staff.

  26. Waiter, take a vacation, go to the French Quarter and spend some time ‘interviewing’ the staff at Cafe du Monde. +Beignets, of course :D

    Also, street performers? Musicians/living statues/magicians/palm and tarot card readers?
    Or even the guys at Preservation Hall, where they pass a hat for tips and song requests.

    (Courtesy of the Top Chef finale, I am craving a New Orleans trip. Don’t mind my obsession.)

  27. Why don’t you interview more people who work in midwestern states or less populated areas? I think it would be interesting to see the differences in tipping in different regions of the country.

  28. Tow truck drivers.

    My husband does roadside assistance.

    The better the car, the more affluent the people, the less likely you will get tipped, and the more likely you will get a “don’t damage my car, you ignorant peasant” sort of attitude. Working class people tip. Of course, they don’t always tip with money. He gets phone numbers, interesting views of girls, offers of illegal substances, an extra pizza, and once got twelve ounces of moonshine. (He split that with his staff supervisor, who is apparently from an area of the country where they appreciate such things, as is my husband.)

    And the customers. Oh, god, the customers.

  29. Speaking of tipping in Washington, DC. The Washington Post gossip columnn in years past (I think when Lloyd Grove wrote it), used to report the amount of tips that famous people left in restaurants. You can search the archives.

  30. You mention salon owners but what about the stylists and the people who wash your hair? I always tip them. I tip the maid who comes to our house and the cleaning people at work as well. In addition, depending on what is done, I tip laundry services.

    I also give money to the garbage men a couple times a year.

  31. You mention salon owners but what about the stylists and the people who wash your hair? I always tip them. I tip the maid who comes to our house and the cleaning people at work as well. In addition, depending on what is done, I tip laundry services. I’ve also tipped day care services.

    I also give money to the garbage men a couple times a year.

    Oh, and what’s up with no bartenders? I’ve worked as a bartender and a maid and a daycare assistant. And come on – no DC?

  32. I understand that certain positions, waiters, are often paid a lower hourly wage, so tips are ‘expected’.
    However the garbage man, tow-truck driver, and UPS delivery man are not paid a lower wage so why is the tip expected all the same?
    Obviously a monetary tip is appreciated, but do these professions feel entitled and begrudge the customer when a tip is not given?

  33. Pingback: Tell Me Your Tipping Stories! « My Favorite Blog Clippings

  34. Why should I tip a UPS delivery person (or U.S. Mail, Fedex, etc.)? Don’t they get union wages, benefits and overtime?
    I also don’t understand the practice of tipping professional movers. They can write an estimate that covers the amount of money they want to make. Writing a low estimate and expecting a tip is just a scam to get part of the payment in cash and avoid paying taxes on it.

  35. How about nail techs? Customers would get the very best this industry had at the time, complain about $2 extra for a broken nail, which would take away from the TIP TOTAL, while raving about their $900 dress for ‘my boy’s’ Bar Mitvah service and $750 for the ‘Reception Dress’.

    I finally told them “Do I go to your house and negotiate less what your husband should take home at the end of his work week? Go somewhere else!” Ungrateful bitches!

    I finally grabbed my appointment book and took GREAT pleasure in permenantly cancelling ALL my appointments and leaving 55 women crying and begging….I bet their husbands never heard THAT sincerely!

  36. How about a flight attendant or two? We are not allowed to accept gratuities. But there are times that NOT accepting one is humiliating to the passenger. And my airline says that then it would be okay.

  37. One of my graduate school colleagues runs a chain of strip clubs in the Metro DC richmond area, and almost everyone from the dancers to the dj and door men work for tips there, not sure if they are considered “sex workers” though.

    Also, have worked as a server in Washington, DC and agree that you should profile the tipping professions in our region. It is such a political region full of people who take bribes for a living, and it influences how and why they tip as well as what they expect from someone they are tipping.

  38. As a New Zealander, I went over to Australia for three weeks to work on a cruise ship run by an American company. The tipping arrangement seemed a bit interesting there. It was all but manditory tipping for the room service staff (15.50 per day, reccomended, see the purser to have it added to your bill. We as temp staff always left them something too, even though we were working as well, since they were paid a pittance) but for the childcare department where I worked, we would set out Gratituities envelopes on the last couple of days of the cruise. If someone liked the work we did, they’d take one and stick some money in, and it would all be pooled and split between us. Most I ever got was $25

  39. More places where tips are exchanged:

    Mailmen, bouncers, airport hosts, tour bus drivers, snow plowers, hair/nail dressers, home party hosts, cafeteria hosts, gym attendants, pool boys, garbadge men, plumbers,limo drivers.

  40. In my experience, limo fees have a 15% tip built into the price (whether the driver gets it or not is another matter). The only time I tip them is if we have some sort of traffic disaster where it takes way longer than they expected. Then I tip them because I figure they lost income.

  41. I drive a UPS truck. We do make a good wage, have great benefits, and get paid overtime as Yoda suggests. I also know all of my customers by name, how many kids they have, which door they like their packages at, what time they get home if I need a signature, and who the car that pulls in 10 minutes after hubby leaves belongs to. I don’t expect tips if you order a one of a kind Talliwacker from Timbuktu occasionally, but when you want me to lug the four 50 lb bags of dogfood, two cases of diapers, and a case of copier paper to the side door in 8 inches of snow because you’re too damn lazy to drive 5 miles to WalMart, let alone clear on shovel width of your driveway? Or when you’re a demanding business owner that gets 2 packages a day and insists that I’m at your place of business by 10 AM, but you wont pay for our premium service? Or when you berate me for not waiting five minutes for you to come to the door for a signature on your wine of the month when I can see you throgh the window doing your nails?
    I work hard for my customers and most of them are wonderful people that I would go to the ends of the Earth for. They recognize that I provide a service for them that goes beyond what I’m paid for.
    If you want me to toss your package by your garage and walk away, no problem. If you want top notch service, think of me once a year when I’m knocking on your door at 9 PM in December, smiling and wishing you a Happy/Merry Whatever You Celebrate (yeah I probably know your religion too). Make my day and let me know you appreciate the fact that I havent seen my family since Thanksgiving and wont until Christmas morning. I love my job and most of my customers. Many of them are generous enough to tip. Some aren’t. Thats okay as long as they know the difference between service and servant.

  42. Waiter,
    I’ve loved your blog for some time and wish you well on your new book writing endeavor. I think you might have missed out on children entertainers in restaurants. Many in the balloon twisting field have seen a major decline in the amount of tips seen while keeping little Jimmy happy while he waits for his burger at the local family restaurant.

  43. I’m a UPS driver in the New York area. It doesn’t surprise me that most people would never even think to tip one of us. However, let me offer a couple of scenarios where maybe it should cross your mind. We get paid our “union wages, benefits and overtime” to deliver your package to your location. Period. That means walking into your business and putting your package down any place that it fits and doesn’t block your entrance. If you prefer that I wheel my 18 inch wide handtruck full of packages thru the 18.5 inch wide path to your back room every day, throwing me a 20 at Christmas might not be a bad idea. It could mean the difference between me telling the guy that’s going to cover for me when I’m off that ABC company likes their stuff in the back room, and letting you argue with him yourself.
    At a residential delivery, we’re paid to place the package at your door. If you want me to drag your 140 pound piece of exercise equipment into your house, a $5 tip would be a nice gesture, especially since I got more of a work out delivering it than you ever will by hanging your clothes on it.
    Tipping someone from whom you receive service on a regular basis, whether it be your UPS driver, your mailman, your garbage man etc, can be thought of as an insurance policy. You’d be surprised how much we’ll go out of our way for you all year long just because you were nice enough to throw us a couple of dollars around the holidays. If you’re not home when we attempt to deliver a package that requires a signature, we are under no obligation to make another attempt until the next day, no matter how frantic you are when you call UPS. It could mean the difference between getting your Yankee tickets on the day of the game, or the day after.

  44. You need to get into the heart of the nation. People don’t just tip on the coasts. I’ve been a waiter and a chef and was in the biz for 10 years and am thinking about diving back in. Although reading your book is giving me some distinct reservations. Great stuff, man.

  45. What about dog groomers? I was one for over a decade and I could tell you all kinds of stories about lousy customers, nasty dogs and cheapskate tippers!

  46. Well, a long, long time ago, I was a pizza delivery driver for a couple of months. That’s not quite accurate, as the delivery drivers there also served the few customers who came in to sit down, make pizza, clean the bathrooms (women’s bathrooms – I thought we men were disgusting), and ring up orders when we weren’t crawling through the BFE wastelands of the county in Indiana where we worked.

    Tipping was…erratic. I had one customer I go to drive to twice who paid me with a combination of a check and spare change, gave me the evil eye when I told her the total before that, slammed the door when I gave her the pizzas; then I find out she shorted me about a dollar in change. Not that I’m going back – fuck you, your next pizza is cold (and it was the next time I drove out to her family’s shitty little hovel out near the plastics plant).

    Then again, one time I delivered a $5 sub out to someone in a less-than-palatial trailer park. $2 tip on that order. I think the people living in those areas understand what a shitty job is and take pity on the slobs delivering their pizza.

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