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The Only Seven Times It's OK to Leave Your Waiter or Waitress a 20 Cent Tip

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity | September 9, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity | September 9, 2014 |

The Eagles’ LeSean McCoy was called out this week by a Philadelphia burger joint, PYT, after the running back left only a $.20 tip on a bill that was more than $60. At the moment, there is some debate going on about the professionalism (or lack thereof) of the owner of the restaurant, who is being called out for posting McCoy’s receipt to social media. Some are saying it backfired onto the owner, and that it showed bad form.

I don’t care about that part of the debate.

Regardless of what you think about the owner’s actions, there is no dispute over the $.20 tip. To me, that is inexcusable. In general, my tipping philosophy is this: Tip until it hurts a little. If you’re not hurting, you’re not tipping enough. If you don’t wonder just a little, “Is this too much,” then IT IS NOT ENOUGH.

However, in their write-up, Bleacher Report is suggesting that “there are many reasons someone might leave a small tip or no tip at a restaurant.”

I have collected all of those reasons. There are seven.

1. You are homeless, and you have no more money in your pocket, nor any means with which to quickly collect more money.

2. You ordered one item off a dollar menu.

3. It is a very rare, very valuable 20 cent coin.

4. Your waiter or waitress is directly responsible for the death of one of your loved ones.

5. At some point during the meal, your waiter or waitress physically assaulted you.

6. Your waiter or waitress attempted and/or succeeded in making out with your date, although unless he or she actually slept with your date, you should probably still leave at least 10 percent.

7. Your wallet was stolen and the only cash you have on you is the tab plus 20 cents, but only if you leave a note promising to return with an appropriate tip, plus extra for the inconvenience.


But, you say, what about bad service?

Bad service is not an excuse to leave a $.20 tip. Bad service is an excuse to leave the minimum 15 percent tip. Bad food is not an excuse either, because that’s not the waiter or waitress’ fault. That the cook’s fault. If you don’t like the food, do not visit the restaurant again. But you don’t stiff the waitstaff.

The only question you should ask yourself is, “Did the waiter bring your food and/or drink to you in a timely manner, and did he or she get your order correct?” If you answered yes to those questions, the waiter and/or waitress has does his or her job. The waitstaff does not owe you small talk. He or she does not owe you a f**king smile or a positive attitude. He or she owes you competent service. That is all. That tip is part of the waitperson’s living wages, with which he or she pays rent or mortgage, buys groceries, and/or purchases his or her childrens’ school supplies. You do not deduct 20 percent from hourly wage of the asshole at Best Buy who grunts while he rings up your wireless repeater, so you do not stiff your asshole waiter, unless one of the above seven conditions are met.

You should consider at least 15 percent as sunk cost with any meal, and you should tip “until it hurts a little” if the service goes beyond the minimum.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.