One Of These Days I’ll Feel Like An Adult

We don’t eat out at fancy restaurants very much. There’s never anything for the kids to eat, what with all their allergies, and getting everyone to sit nicely and talk quietly and not spill stuff, while trying to shovel food into our own mouths as quickly as possible, is just about the farthest thing from relaxing you can get.

So when Sir Monkeypants and I have a special occasion, we get take out from a local restaurant. We’re not talking five star places, but the kind of places you maybe would have gone to on a Saturday night to grab dinner with friends before a movie. You know, in those days when you did that sort of thing. Most places like this will pack up a take-out order for you if you ask.

Now here’s the tricky part: do you tip? And if so, how much?

The whole tipping thing is just so very beyond me. I feel like I should know what I am doing in this area, as a middle aged adult, but I really have no idea. When to tip, how much to tip, how to do it so you feel more like James Bond and less like Fran Drescher is completely outside my circle of knowledge.

The other day we ordered a pizza from Domino’s. We always drive down to pick it up, because the place is only a few blocks from our house and it seems silly to pay $5, plus driver tip (of course!), to have them drive the one minute it is going to take to deliver it. So this week, I used a credit card to pay, and the credit card machine thingy prompted me to enter a tip.


I think of Domino’s as kind of a fast-food place, like McDonalds. It doesn’t even have any seating. On the other hand, these people are making my food. So are we tipping for this sort of thing now? Am I expected to leave a dollar extra at Tim’s? Should I be tipping the drive-through lady at Wendy’s?

I’m terribly gauche, aren’t I? YIKES.

My mom went to DisneyWorld at Christmas, and every single place they ate had pre-calculated an 18% tip and a 20% tip for her to choose between. What has happened to the standard 15% tip? Is that out the window now? There was also a note in her hotel room suggesting she leave a 20% tip for the maid at the end of the week – a “tip” that would have worked out to about $300 PER ROOM. Do people actually do that?

My mom wasn’t too impressed that an already expensive trip cost her almost 20% more with the tipping. Me, I’m pretty embarrassed that when we went to Disney last January, we took almost no cash and what we had was only in $20 bills, so we ended up not tipping anyone, even though the bus drivers/bellboys/maids all looked at us expectantly all the time. It was so awkward. Am I the only one who ends up in situations like this?

So I ask you, internet:

When you get take-out from a nice restaurant, do you tip?

Would you have tipped at the Domino’s?

How much percentage of tip do you usually leave for food/restaurant situations?

How much tip do you give for other services, like haircuts and taxi rides and deliveries (OMG, am I supposed to tip the FedEx man)?

How much would you tip your bus driver/bellboy/maid while on a trip – a couple of dollars, five dollars, or would you have forked over the $20?

20 thoughts on “One Of These Days I’ll Feel Like An Adult

  1. Patricia

    Tipping is so awkward. I used to live in the UK where tipping wasn’t expected and I much preferred it! I do not tip when getting take out. I would have put a slash line through the tip section of Domino’s. We usually tip a delivery guy $1 or $2- mainly so they don’t spit in our foods in subsequent deliveries. I do not tip for maid service. I figure that’s part of the service I’m paying for with the room cost. When going out to eat we tip 15% unless the service is exceptional and then we tip 20%. I have never tipped the Fed Ex guy or flower delivery people. At the hairdresser I usually tip around 15%- only because I feel an obligation to do so not because I choose to. I usually give a taxi driver the change ie if the taxi ride was $7 I’ll give him $10 and say keep the change. I do begrudge tipping though- I much prefer the situation in the UK where it is not expected but appreciated. One time we had a horrendous waitress who forgot things we asked for, spilled a drink on me, took forever to bring the bill…..we did not leave a tip for her. She actually chased us out of the restaurant and demanded a tip! Unbelievable. I don’t know how restaurants get away with paying their serving staff $2.10 an hour with the expectation that the customer will not only pay a massive mark up on the food, but will then effectively pay the server to bring it from the kitchen to the table. Another tipping situation I had was when we got room service as a massive anniversary treat. I felt really awkward about tipping the person who delivered the food, but he stood there while I was signing the bill and there was a slot that said tip. I put 20% in figuring he carried that heavy tray all the way to the room. After he left I realized the hotel had already added an 18% tip! So I effectively tipped the server 38%. I could have cried. Tipping etiquette makes me feel really awkward as well!

  2. Patricia

    PS- I’m not keen on the little lobster character vomiting up spaghetti next to my name in the above reply! 😦

  3. Tipping causes me all kinds of anxiety!

    I tip 15% in a restaurant unless service was EXCEPTIONAL. I do not tip at a takeout place, even if there is a tipping option. I will often drop my small change into a tip jar if there is one though.

    In a cab I spend just about the entire ride trying to figure out how much I should tip at the end of the ride based on how much the ride is costing.

    I felt guilty for days when i thought I should have tipped my massage therapist but didn’t. Same with hairdressers.

    I lived in Korea for awhile and they don’t tip there either – I SO prefer that.

  4. MrsCarlSagan

    We always tip the pizza delivery guy $2 or 3$, but it has never crossed my mind ever to tip when we pick up take out. I tip taxi drivers, my hairdresser 10 – 15% and 15% in restaurants. I’ve never tipped delivery persons who bring packages to the door.

  5. Amelia Witherspoon

    We always tip at least 20% at restaurants when we eat there, because servers here make minimum wage. They need our tips to pay the bills. And often times, if something’s wrong with the service, it’s not usually the server’s fault — more often than not, something is going wrong in the kitchen. Take-out, though, is a different story. If we have an exceptionally large or complicated order, I tend to tip at least 15%. The rest of the time, it’s just based on how guilty that automatically printed tip line makes me feel. But I don’t think it’s there to make us feel guilty, even though it does. It’s probably the same receipt servers are taking to their tables, or delivery guys are taking in their cars. Either way, I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re doing. So don’t fret. Tip what you can, where you can, and you’ll always feel good about yourself.

  6. I waitressed all through university and so I always tip at restaurants. I tip a minimum of 15%. I also tip my hairdresser, usually 15-20%. I am a firm believer in tipping for those kinds of jobs. BUT. The dog groomer had one of those tip things on the credit card. Really? It cost $80 for my dog to get groomed, now I’m supposed to pay an extra $12? I don’t know. I definitely would not have tipped at Domino’s. I usually give some spare change at Starbucks, but even then I think that’s silly.

  7. I don’t tip take out, but I will if I get delivery.

    About the Orlando thing. I have a friend who lives there and I went out to dinner with her last time I was there (2 years ago). We had an interesting discussion about tipping. She said that Florida wait staff don’t like Canadians because we don’t tip high enough (or at all). And I guffawed and said, but is a tip really necessary. She explained that for service staff they get a reduced minimum wage (in Florida, circa 2009,it was around $2.50 an hour) and that it is assumed (by the govt) that tips cover the rest. I was very surprised by their low minimum wage. And I tried to remember that when I tipped during the balance of my trip.

  8. I am also incredibly uncomfortable with tipping. It feels soa wkward to me to try to figure out how much to give, and also causes me major math anxiety as I try to calculate an appropriate amount as someone watches me.

    I never tip at fast food places or coffee shops either. They aren’t really doing anything more than what the cashier at a grocery store does.

    I would love to live somewhere where tipping is not expected.

  9. Having been on the receiving end of tips, I do consider myself a good tipper. I haven’t ever tipped for take out, but I do tip at coffee shops, not wendy’s or the like though. It’s all so complicated. Our sitter is a hair dresser, so she just adds on our cuts to the baby sitting bill. I don’t tip her, but will pick up crackers or cereal that I know she shares with the her baby sitting charges.

  10. I think tipping is awkward for everyone.

    I never tip at fast food places, nor would I tip for take out – there’s no extra service there. I do tip in restaurants – 15 – 20% depending on the service and the price. If the food is pricy, it’ll be on the low end – if the food is cheap but the service good, I’ll tip more.

  11. Betsy Mae

    My hair stylist is the owner…am I supposed to tip her? I always thought if they own the place then you don’t…omg, I am feeling a bit embarrassed (and cheap!). I’ve been going to her for at least 10 yrs so by now she must be adding it to the price.

    I never tip for take out, coffee shops, or fast food places. My husband tips 10% for take out.

    I don’t take taxis but when I have I tip 15%, restaurants is 20% but only because my husband does the tipping. If the service sucks then it is less.

    If food is being delivered I only tip if there is no charge for the delivery.

  12. Yeah, I don’t think you’re alone in feeling awkward about tipping. I’m with everyone else, I think – yes for food delivery, not for takeout. I’ve waitressed and cleaned hotel rooms, and I don’t agree at all that maid service is included in the price of the room – I mean I don’t agree with it as a justification for not tipping. Those women make rock-bottom wages and it’s a nasty, nasty job. On the cruise, we went with the suggested tips for wait staff, room staff etc, and it does add a lot to the trip, and I’m not sure exactly how I feel about that – except the service was really amazing and, well, we were on a damned cruise so pleading frugality felt somewhat hypocritical. I tip for all spa services, but in random amounts because I never know how much is appropriate.

  13. I hate tipping, but it’s definitely a fact of our North American service industry, so here’s what I do:

    Take-out (any type): Never, unless they’ve gone out of their way to accomodate some sort of odd request (can’t think of an example).

    Restaurant: Always. From 10% for poor service to 20% for great service. Average is probably 18% of pre-tax bill. In the states they tip higher cause and wages are lower so usually 18-20%. Oh, and buffet is 10%.

    Cab or food delivery guy: 10-15% depending on ease of rounding off.

    Salon/spa: 10-15% depending on cost:time of service. Owner of salon/spa – this bugs me… technically, I wouldn’t tip them but they seem to always expect it… this is a hard one.

    Hotel housekeeper: Always! This would be the most demanding service job. I don’t do a % of the bill, rather a few dollars for each day we are there (from $3 to $5 per day per room)

    Lastly- Registered Massage Therapist: Recently I saw a tip option at my massage place. I don’t like that. If they are considered health professionals, they have no business asking for tips. It devalues their profession.

    Long enough comment?

  14. I tip 15% at a restaurant unless the service was horrendous and then I go down from there. I’ve tipped 20% for awesome service.

    I tip my hair dresser because she cuts my hair for less than $30 🙂

    I don’t tip my RMT or any other health service professionals. I tip at spas (except RMT) up to 15%.

    I leave $ for the people who clean hotel rooms b/c their pay is terribly low but I don’t tip cabbies. I also rarely ride in cabs 😉

    My husband tips when we do take-out and it MAKES ME CRAZY

    I would say I’m an average to under-tipper but that’s because service does nothing but astound me these days for how awful it is.

  15. Whoa, when did your blog UI change?

    Anyway, Mr. Chatty and I talked AT LENGTH about tipping on our trip. At first we didn’t do much tipping because we were completely unsure what to do. It was an all inclusive resort, and zillions of people were working so hard for us. Were we to tip everyone?

    We also talked about how even in Canada it’s strange that you tip your server but not your cook. Your cook is working hard to please you, too, so why does only the server get the tip?

    Why doesn’t anyone tip me? I’m going a good job, too?

    My point is, tipping is hard. Some people get tips and some people don’t, and it’s completely unclear and borderline ridiculous the tipping structure in the world. IMO, life would be best if everyone was making a good salary and we did away with tips. I’d rather pay more for my food in a restaurant and have happy servers and happy cooks than have everyone thinking way too much about tipping.

    To answer your questions:

    1. No, I don’t tip when I pick up take-out, but again that’s just we don’t tend to tip food preparers in this country, only food servers.

    2. No. Domino’s has the “tip” entry on their machine likely because most restaurant’s use that system, and it’s built in, not because they expect you to tip.

    3. If service is good, I tip 15% on the total bill. I believe Mr. Chatty tips 15% on the bill before tax. I might tip more if service is good. On very few occasions I’ve tipped less when service was lousy.

    4. I tip other people (taxi drivers, hairdresser and hair colourist) 10%. I tip bartenders 50 cents to a buck a drink.

    5. I tip maids $2 to $3 bucks every couple of days in hotels, but I’m not super consistent with this. I do it more in poorer countries than in North America or Europe. I always try to avoid having someone pick up/deliver my bags at hotels, but if I get stuck in that situation, I give a buck or two.

    1. I thought that servers at a restaurant had to share their tips with the cooks, hostess, and bartender. No? My sole source of knowledge on this is that Last Night At The Lobster book (SO GOOD, by the way, if you are reading this comment and are not FameThrowa, you should go read it).

      Anyway, I always assumed the cooks were getting a cut. No?

  16. “My mom went to DisneyWorld at Christmas, and every single place they ate had pre-calculated an 18% tip and a 20% tip for her to choose between”

    What?! That is terrible, but DisneyWorld and Land are greedy money pits, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised!

    For me, tipping is easy. If I get good, polite service, I tip well, if not, well then I either tip nothing or the bare minimum.

  17. Danigirl

    Ugh, tipping. Just spent a few days traveling, so this has been on my mind. I tipped the cabbie (10%), housekeeper ($3/day, but tidied up so she didn’t have to do much) and bellhop (is that what they’re called?) $5 for bringing up my one bag on rollers simply because he pulled it out of the cab for me and I said a distracted “yes” when he asked if he should bring it up for me before it occurred to me I would have to pay for it.

    The guy who cuts my hair owns the shop so I only tip him near the holidays, but I do tip $5 for the “free” bang trims and $5 to his assistant when she washes my hair. I think I’m a light tipper, but I’m Scottish and Dutch – you font get much cheaper than that!

  18. Oh, tipping! It is such a major source of anxiety for me! I just hate it. I much prefer a system like in other countries when service industry workers get paid a regular wage by their employers (not by the customers’s tips!). When I lived in Autralia, as example, no one ever tips to get their hair done.

    I wrote a post on this as well a while back. Restaurants are easy for me — I end up giving a big tip (20% and that’s probably after taxes too, I am a sucker). But at the hairdresser or at a spa … or busboys/bellhops … or the pizza delivery person (is $2 too little? does it border on insulting?) … all these other variables just leave me very, very confused!!

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