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Of course as most Americans know tipping is customary in our society. This is not the case in all societies however as it would be considered rude and improper in some places, but here in America there are certain industries that rely almost entirely on the tipping economy. There may have been a time in the past when tipping guidelines were not so clearly defined as they are now: with the plethora of tipping guides and even phone apps available at your fingertips this day and age if you ask anyone who goes out to eat regularly about how to tip they will undoubtedly reply "15-20% depending on the service". When going out to have a few drinks it is not uncommon to leave $1 per drink as a rule of thumb especially if you are only drinking beer or wine. Even people who have never worked in the service industry know that you should always tip, even if they don't always tip the appropriate amount.
Now lets introduce this other very integral part of the tipping economy which is called TIPSHARE. Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant, bar, or even club knows about tipshare. For every single dollar that you make in tips you are expected to tip out a certain dollar amount or percentage to other employees. Tipped out positions include bussers, hosts, bar-backs, etc. Often times this tipshare percentage is determined by food or alcohol sales and not necessarily on actual tips received. This means that every time someone sits down in a restaurant they actually cost their server money through tipshare regardless of if they tip or not.
In the past I have worked at restaurants where the tipshare was only 2% of your total sales, which is paid out to the bussers and bartenders. So for every $100 in food/alcohol that a table orders I would have to pay out $2 to the house automatically. Not all restaurants are the same however and the place where I currently work has a 5% tipshare rule, meaning for every $100 spent by guests I would now owe $5 to the house. This drastically changes things because when a table forgets to tip (which happens more often than you would think) or simply does not tip enough I end up having to fork up the difference. Simply put when you go out to eat you are costing your server money!
With this being said it is not acceptable to leave a 5% tip or less on your tab, no matter where you are going out to eat. Sure, if your server was HORRIBLE and RUDE then sure a crappy tip (or no tip) is to be expected. However if that person brought you everything you needed and got your order correct then be considerate and compensate them for their hard work. At the end of the day they have bills to pay too. In most states servers make minimum wage and even as low as $2.13/hr so keep that in mind the next time you leave a Fiver on $100.