What do you want to be remembered for after you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil?

Loving parent? Supportive spouse? Avid SEC supporter?

Whether or not any of those lasting memories end up as your epitaph – we all want to leave some mark to show we were here.

Mine might be a tad more trivial than most; I just want to be remembered as a good tipper.

Hear me out, because the tipping game has changed in the past decade and I sometimes feel I can’t keep up, as far as etiquette goes.

There are types of restaurants and establishments that didn’t exist 20 years ago that customers frequent today.

Let’s take some local examples and figure out what’s kosher in this day and age.

Since the inception of Sweet Pepper’s Deli in Tupelo, I’ve always believed in tipping the wait staff. They brought your food to you and they filled your drinks. In my mind, that’s the gold standard of a tipping situation – it’s a sit-down restaurant with a wait staff.

After the renovation of the establishment, patrons now have to get their own drinks and refills. I’ve also noticed less frequency in the staff returning to tables to check on things.

With the new status quo, to me at least, I would think you would not tip as much as you once would there.

But a precedent has been set, and I still tip the staff. They’re always courteous, even though I have to grab their attention from time to time.

The renovation of the restaurant also added a drive-thru, which begs another question – do you tip at the drive-thru?

I’m asking. I seriously don’t know the etiquette.

A quick Google yields this result: “No tip is necessary when you pick up your own food. But if you receive some service, like a waiter delivering the food to your car, then tip $1 or $2.”

That sounds easy enough – and some of these establishments just have the kind of credit card terminal/point of sale software that automatically has a gratuity line on the receipt, which can be deceiving.

The size of a restaurant gratuity depends on how well you are served, including whether your order is correct and your server checks on you after you receive your food.

Another Google suggestion: “Don’t base your tip on the food’s taste. The server has no control over that.”

Do you tip when you go to a place like Sonic? You should.

Most servers make well below minimum wage, and tips are a big part of their income. I feel as if people take that for granted, more often than not.

We’ve all seen viral horror stories online thanks to the advent of social platforms like Facebook, wherein customers write terrible notes on gratuity lines or, worse, lay out cash on a table and take some away when the server does something not to the patron’s liking.

I saw one receipt where a person wrote, “I make more than you do. My time is worth more than yours” on the gratuity line.

The food service industry is grueling and, often, thankless. It’s chaotic, demanding and you often see people at their worst.

Eating is easy. Being kind is easier.

Remember, they’re servers – not servants.

W. DEREK RUSSELL is a staff writer and columnist for the Daily Journal. Contact him on Twitter @wderekrussell or email him at derek.russell@journalinc.com.

Features, arts and entertainment reporter for Daily Journal.

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