I worked in restaurants for many years. Stereotypes exist
for a reason
One particularly curious thing to note: People that can afford to leave really big tips (for great service) typically don't. Lower/middle class people can and will often tip beyond their means.
07/28/2011 01:30 PMI usually just tip to the nearest dollar amount (also depending on the cost of the meal I might add 1 or 2 dollars)
Posted by House
You should not set foot into a place with waitstaff deemed tip-worthy without the expectation of tipping at least the standard 15% for mediocre service. I would literally give your your measly tip back and ask for your girlfriends phone number right in front of you.
Having served for a couple of years, my standard tip is 20%. If you did a great job (and I mean a really great job) I tip 30%, unless the bill is ridiculously small--around $1-5--inwhich case I tip a flat amount that could be 100-500% of the bill. I don't tip less than 20% very often, but if I do it's because the server was rude or openly expressed their distain for their job.
As a note, common prejudices in the service industry are that certain minority groups (based on age, religion, or race) don't tip well. In my experience, this simply doesn't bear out. The tips you will receive will, for the most part, seem to be completely random and unrelated to either the customer's demographic or your quality of service. For instance, I've given terrible service to some people and been given great tips, and have given wonderful service to others and gotten stiffed.
It's all a crap shoot, and how you do your job has little to do with what you will earn from any given table (provided you are competent). Just be nice and try to forget that you're serving. It makes the job a lot less stressful.
You are very insightful. However, after many years in the industry I am very rarely surprised by a great tip or a bad one. There are many ways to tell if your customers are decent folks or cheap gutter slime. During my years in the service industry, I devoted most of my time to sizing people up, based on mannerisms and body language, etc. Call me judgmental, but in an industry based on voluntary tipping it doesn't pay to waste time on people that simply aren't worth it.
Wrapping up: Whether customer or server - treat people with a basic modicum of respect.
Pro-tip: Don't mess with people that handle your food.
And, when I eat out the tip starts at 20% and goes up or down from there.