While tipping is a way of life in the United States, in Europe, there is none. The price of a meal is the price. They love it when Americans come in to dine because they feel they should tip. Europeans are having none of it. They hold their ground with no tipping. I believe I can start to understand them.
I think I’m a good tipper – always 20 percent as long as everything goes well. With all this said, here’s my story about the tip.
I was planning to have a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant with three girlfriends, when the waiter approached us. Somehow, the conversation became one of, we are all from Ohio and he was from Michigan. This was before THE GAME. Each time he returned to the table, there was some flip remark about Ohio State and Michigan playing football (guess we showed him) and we all laughed, assuming he was just trying to be talkative.
So we ordered some wine, had dinner and then came time for the check. One of my friends told him that we’d like separate checks. That was because some had ordered wine and others had not. He said, “No, that’s not possible.” We thought because he had been kidding with us all evening, he was being flip about it. It turned out however, that he meant it. He told us we had to ask for that when we ordered, his manager’s rule. (Incidentally, this would be the first time in my history of eating with one of those friends that she didn’t ask for separate checks!)
One friend said, “Why didn’t you ask us then?” He replied that we should have told him. We also asked if we could just give him four credit cards, but that was a no, also. We were getting nowhere!
I finally decided to get in the action. I said, “Then just bring us the bill and we will take care of it.” So you know how that works when women have one bill to split – somebody has a $20 and a $10 bill and needs change to get the correct amount, and there are dollar bills floating all over the table.
Eventually we got the money together and then came the conversation about the tip. What would we leave him? He had been good at bringing the correct food and the quality had been just OK, but now he was being obnoxious about this bill, standing there grinning at us saying we couldn’t have separate checks. It was more the attitude that was irritating than the refusal to split checks.
So, all things considered, we decided on 15 percent and for me, that was pushing it. I would’ve given him less. We handed him cash for the bill plus tip and two of us walked out, talking as we were leaving and not paying attention to what was going on behind us. Finally, we realized the other two weren’t visible. I wondered if there was a problem about the tip.
Yes, there was, and almost five minutes later the other two appeared around the corner to meet us. Apparently the waiter started yelling at them about not enough tip. Seriously! How could this be happening? My friend involved, a strong professional woman who takes no guff from anyone, was embarrassed because he was yelling in front of the other customers. Not believing he was truthful, she asked to see the tip money and he yanked it back from her. She says she called him some appropriate names and threw a few more dollars at him, trying to make him feel small. I believe I have heard of people taking all the tip money back when something like this happens. I asked her why she didn’t just walk away and she thought maybe it was the wine!
So, what was right? Is it proper to tell someone they have not left enough tip, even though they knew they had, probably way more than was deserved under the circumstances? I think he was just a jerk! Obviously we will not be returning to that restaurant! Maybe the Europeans have something there!
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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