RE: Speaking of tipping
Another thing that has always rankled me about the system of tipping in restaurants is the fact that it's based on the dollar total of the bill. In most every other instance where a tip is considered to be "customary", it's based on the service rendered. Parking valets, hair stylists, red caps (if they still exist), bell hops, the tip is a set amount. The guy with a Yugo isn't expected to tip more than a guy driving a Lincoln and does the bellhop deserve more because the guest is traveling with expensive luggage?. They may hope for a bigger tip, but it isn't mandated like it is for waitstaff who, after all, are only providing the service of order taking and food delivery. Why in the world should the gratuity for that service be so affected by what you order? Why should I be expected to leave an extra $20 because I decided to splurge on a bottle of Dom instead of staying with a much less expensive domestic? Does the server expend more energy to bring me a $50 prime steak dinner than he would have had I ordered a pasta dish?
Before anyone accuses me of being a cheapass, I have to tell you that I am and have always been a good tipper. My sister was a waitress starting in a greasy-spoon diner, worked her way up to the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, N.J. (where dinner for 2 these days can run you well over $500), and ended up as the hostess at the Clinton House (Clinton, N.J.). Through the years, she educated me to the why's and wherefore's of the plight of waitstaff. For the past 40 years, I've left 15% when service was adequate, 20% (or more) when I felt it was deserved, and anywhere from 10% down to a nickle when things had really gone downhill. At Galatoire's in New Orleans in the early 80's, I left a dollar after a lunch for two during which the waiter had me so pissed off I came close to wringing his neck.
I guess there is no solution to this issue other than to pay the waitstaff a decent wage and raise menu prices accordingly. Until that happens, don't expect me to feel obligated to leave a 20% tip for only adequate service...pb