In general, I am a tipper. Knowing that many of the people I tip are paid minimum wage (or sometimes even less) and rely on tips is part of the reason, but, mostly it is to "reward" good service. Tipping can certainly be used as a communication tool, too. A 15% (or more) tip to, say, a waiter in a restaurant, means "Good job! Thanks!" while a zero % tip means "You really screwed up!" I'm not really a believer in giving a tip between zero and 15%. To me, 15% is for a good job, more means excellent job; it just doesn't fit into my scheme of things to "reward" for anything less than a good job.
I will admit, though (and Mr. B will look askance at me when I do this; not because he's cheap and unfeeling but because it goes against the grain of his accountant mind) that sometimes I'll leave a bigger tip than is perhaps required because I'm trying to get rid of all the spare coins I'm hauling around in my purse. I did this a Cracker Barrel the other day; I left $2.80 which amounted to about a 30% (or maybe even more) tip. Yeah, the waitress was chirpy and friendly and efficient; but, did she deserve THAT much of a tip? Well, probably not. But, it was $2.80 for crying out loud, it wasn't like it was $22.80!
I believe in tipping the people that provide beauty services (again, assuming they did a good job and didn't turn my hair purple or wax 1/2 of my eyebrow off my face). I've discovered over the years that if you give a decent tip, these same folks are more likely to squeeze you in "in an emergency" or stay late if you are running late, etc. With the ladies that used to to my nails, a nice tip usually meant they wouldn't charge me extra for repairs or for French manicures; sometimes, they charge me for a cheaper service than what I actually received. So, tipping can pay one back.
I'll never forget the huge argument my ex husband got into with his cousin one Thanksgiving. His cousin, Joe, was a truck driver; he delivered things like heavy TVs, appliances, etc., in NYC. Again. IN NYC. Which meant driving around those crazy streets, trying to find a place to pull the truck over, and hauling whatever it was up flights of stairs into apartments, brownstones, etc. Joe said, "Hell yeah, I expect to get some sort of tip for doing stuff like that!" The ex said, "That's what you get PAID to do, Joe! I don't get tipped when I create an especially difficult computer program!" This is where I pipped in (because I was tending to side with Joe) "Sure you do, honey, it's called a BONUS!" If looks could kill, I'd be lying six feet under right now.
So, you can imagine the fights the ex and I had about tipping, especially when it came to movers. But, I always won out because we're talking about people that are moving your things. I know, I know; to his credit, what he was saying was they are paid to do it well, it is their job; one shouldn't feel they have to give a moving van driver an extra $50 to split amongst his crew just to ensure the furniture isn't scratched or mud isn't tracked onto your brand new carpet, but, that's the game.
And, another point here is this; it doesn't have to be A LOT of money (I'm talking about the non-restaurant tipping situations now). Sometimes, I think it's the gesture that counts more than anything else.
So, yeah; I'll put my extra change or a buck into the jar at Starbucks. I ALWAYS tip bartenders/pool-side servers (you can bet they always come by asking if I want something else, too).
Over the past several days, I've noticed that I (we) seem to be the only people tipping folks that don't "automatically" get a tip. For instance, at the B&B this weekend, there was a dude in the kitchen who, every weekend morning, set up a very nice full breakfast buffet. He'd then come out and pour juice and coffee, clear away dishes, etc. On weekdays, there is no buffet set out but he cooks a full breakfast if you want one; eggs, potatoes, grits, bacon and biscuits. Well, Mr. B and I routinely put a few bucks down on the table for people such as this when we leave. I noticed that NO ONE else in that breakfast room did.
I took the dirty disgusting bird-crap covered Escape to the car wash Tuesday. I sat there and watched two guys scrub and scrub and scrub. It was taking FOREVER. Finally, one of the guys said, "We're trying to get all the bugs off for you, it won't be much longer!" I already knew I was going to tip them because I typically tip at the car wash (again, not much; maybe a buck or two). I sat there watching my fellow patrons go collect their cars. No tips from any of them.
So, I don't know; maybe due to the "economy" now (everyone is blaming everything on the price of gas), people are cutting back in a lot of ways and the first way is to stop tipping. To me, this seems a bit uncivilized; I mean, cut back on your 2nd Big Mac or something like that! If one can afford to go to B&Bs and to get their car washed by someone else, one can probably afford to leave a tip.
Ok, I will admit there has always been one instance where tipping bugs the hell out of me and that is the curbside baggage dudes. NOT because I don't want to tip them for checking my bags, putting the tags on them, and getting them safely to the airplane (it's worth a few bucks a bag to not have to wait in the huge line inside) but what irritates me is how they hold out their hand for the tip. Now, that's presumptuous!
I just read in the paper that some of these Sky Caps in other cities have sued (and won) because their airline is now charging people to check their bags at the curb, which means the patrons are less likely to leave a tip, too. They claim their airlines new practice is robbing them of income that before hand was pretty much a bird in the hand.
So, I got to thinking, would I tip them? Yeah, I probably would. Not just because I don't want my bag going to Paris when I'm going to Puerto Vallarta; mostly, because the price of the service has gone up; this shouldn't mean there shouldn't be a tip. Just like if the salon raises the prices to get a hair cut; I wouldn't stop tipping my stylist, or, if my favorite restaurant raised its menu prices, I wouldn't leave less than a 15% tip for the waiter.