I grew up at a time when you did not tip the servers at restaurants as service was part of their job.  Much later when I travelled to Japan it was much the same.  A truly professional meal server or taxi driver or whatever, thought that doing a great job was the bare minimum of their role.  It was an insult to give a tip as that assumed that they did something beyond what they were supposed to do.

Sadly this did not carry on in North America.  If you did your job according to what was expected, you also expected that you would be rewarded above what was the norm. Upset if you did not get a bonus at the end of the year.

This became the norm for servers at restaurants.

When I was young it became a habit or rule to give a 5% tip to a server that did something special.  If the service was normal you just paid the bill no issue.

Then peer pressure came on and you were supposed to pay the 5% tip regardless.  However I remember hosting a meal for 8 people when the service was so bad (6 of us were finished before the last 2 were served) that I made point to leave 1 cent as a tip.  It was on a plate and the server came to try and embarrass me with the cent and I told him that was all he deserved.

But times changed… the expected tip went to 7 % and then 10% and eventually to 15%.  Servers would come and ask you again and again if you wanted  more water or something just to suck up the tip amount.

At group meals they would automatically add 18% to the meal and the server would purposely leave the tip line on the bill open in the hope that you would miss the fact that the tip was included to get more money.

You may notice that I am a cynic about this issue.  Still the paying a 15 % tip on just normal restaurant service is expected.  Anything less and you run the risk of the entire staff coming out and hissing you as you leave the premises…. who can take the risk.

Tonight I took my bride Pat for a meal at Avenue Bistro, probably the second fanciest restaurant in the Valley.  It was our anniversary.

Now last year we had a horrible winter with days and days of dumps of snow.  As the only guy in our neighbourhood with a snow blower, I would go out and clear the neighbour’s driveways and then do sidewalks up and down the street.  Day after day and many tanks of fuel.  It was an exceptional winter.

At the end a couple of neighbours brought me prepaid cards for Avenue Bistro to thank me.  (others brought me bottles of wine)  I saved the cards to share a special meal with Pat on our anniversary.

A wonderful meal with fresh oysters and … whatever…  no need to look at the price of the entrees or the wine…  In the end the cards covered most of the meal so I was presented with a bill for the remaining.  The service was wonderful so I gave a 90% tip on the bill after the cards.  The server mentioned she had never received a 90% tip before.

Puts me up there with Jack Nicholson