T.I.P.S. is an old acronym for "To Insure Proper Service." In layman's words, you get taken care of, please take care of me in return with cash.  If I've spilled a drink on your head, spat in your food, run my fingers through your girlfriend's hair whilst giving you the salute, I'd expect that you would not be leaving me a tip.  If I've taken a food and drink order for 5 people and wind up neglecting the fact that you didn't ask for a tomato and wanted a salad for your burger, do you really think it's fair to stiff me?  No.  We are all human.  

Many times I've had to answer questions about salary.  The straight answer is, in most bars/restaurants, bartenders and waiters get paid net nothing and are completely or nearly completely dependent on gratuities for their wages.  Furthermore, in larger establishments, they often get taxed (income tax) on a percentage of sales.  In other words, many employers report to the IRS that service employees have made tips whether they have made them or not.

It is customary in this country to leave 15 – 20% of the bill as a gratuity for your bartender/waiter.  30% – 50% or more will get you a whole lot of love and other treats as I've previously mentioned.  You'll leave an indelible impression in a good way.

You European and Southern U.S. low-income earners and tightwads wake up – this is not optional unless I've done some of the things above.  If you goof this up, don't be surprised to get yelled at embarrassed and never served at that establishment again at worst, ignorance for future orders or dirty looks at best.  You Europeans who pretend to barely speak Engrish let alone play coy about not tipping, or worse drop $.38 cents in coins on a $75 bar tab, you give us all angina, make us industry folk refer to you as Eurotrash and ruin it for the majority of Europeans that are all to pleasant to serve.  All your guide books refer to tipping in the U.S.  Don't play stupid.  Our livelihoods depend on our service and compensation as a result.  

Coins are not acceptable unless you've leaving a collector's item or something valuable.  $1 is not an acceptable tip on an $14 drink people.  If you've had 6 drinks and your bill is $100, $6 damned dollars is an insult.  You will get "the treatment" next time you come in and I assure you, that you will be remembered 6 months down the road when you next show your cheap ass up.  Bartenders have a photographic memory for cheap asses. You are ingrained in our psyche. If you have a cup of coffee for $2 or $3, coins or $1 is ok just don't dump a dozen of coins along with your pocket lint, nail clippers and Chapstick please.  That's shag-nasty. 

If you are broke, the last thing we want to hear is you whine about it and unfold 8 singles that are crumpled up in your school backpack.  Golden Rule #1: if you don't have enough money to go out comfortably and tip well, don't bother going out.  Stay your ass home.  Golden Rule #2: the longer you linger and the more obscene, demanding and generally P.I.T.A. you become, the more you should tip period.  If you've lingered 3 hours, paid for 1 cup of coffee that I've refilled 5 times, strewn sugar, newspapers all over the bar, I have charged your phone and lent you my pen, is a $1 tip really sufficient? I think not.  

As the other posts mention, be liberal and generous.  Make an impression.  It will come back to you 10 fold if you return to that bar often.  

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