Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Minister’s Newsletter Column: Gratitude, Generosity, and Tipping the Scales of Equity

As I sat in my favorite pub, I contemplated whether to leave a generous tip or just an adequate one.  “Would that extra dollar make more of a difference to the server, or to me?”

Summertime for many of us is a time of travel, dining out, recreation and entertainment.  For many others, it’s a time for landing a seasonal job, or finding a few extra hours of work in a restaurant, motel, bar, or valet parking lot.  Such extra work may help to feed the family, pay rent, cover medical costs, save up for school, or enjoy some recreation time.

Most of those venues do not pay much to their workers.   Restaurant servers rely primarily on tips.  A café of empty tables yields very small wages!  Hotel maids clean and turn around rooms in 30 minutes, risking injury with heavy mattresses.

I admire the energy and hard work of people who give their time and talents in service to me and to others.  I try to say “thank you” and show patience when it might help.  I also try to leave a generous tip.  In a motel I leave a couple of dollars on the bed every morning, unless I really have made a mess.  I tip if someone carries my bags, but in the motels I use, that’s not likely.

The standard gratuity these days for restaurant meals is 15% of the total bill for adequate service, and 20-25% for very good service.  (The total bill includes the tax.)  For terrible service… talk to the manager.

My nephew Scott has worked in food service at various levels for over 10 years.  I was amazed when he told me that dining patrons often leave without paying the tab!  He also confirmed a newspaper article that said we should leave a tip in cash, as restaurants may not pass on the full amount of the tip to the server if it’s on a credit card.

Showing gratitude and generosity is a way to affirm and promote our sense of inter-dependence.  It’s a good personal practice at any time, whether away on vacation or visiting local eateries.  It’s good for our own spirits, and it makes the world a better place.  Blessed be!

With gratitude,


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