Genii Weblog

Dating advice - Tips for tipping

Mon 5 Apr 2004, 08:55 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
OK, it is not as bad as ordering a peanut butter sandwich, but I do have a bit more dating advice for the clueless, courtesy of my daughter.  She is (still) dating a boy (yes, the same boy), and they went out to a restaurant last night.  She has continued to work on his "date-readiness", but there are still some gaps.  The latest anecdote has to do with tipping.

"He couldn't figure out the tip for a $20 dinner", she tells me, "He had to pull out his cellphone which has a tip calculator."

Ouch!  Now, not figuring out a tip is not a total RLM... unless you are dating a National Merit Scholar... and unless she is also a bit of a princess, I'm afraid.

So here's the advice.  A tip should be at least 10% (so, for $20, that is $2, no tip calculator necessary), and probably no more than 20% (unless you really want to impress a princess, so, for $20, that is $4).  Still, this may be too complex for this particular guy, so here are a few rules of thumb:

Possible tip calculation #1) Just leave $3.  If the bill is $10, you are generous, but can also afford it.  If the bill is $40, you are cheap, but since you have never spent over $30 on a dinner for my daughter, you are safe.

Possible tip calculation #2) Double the tax.  This is a tricky one.  Since tax in this state is 8%, doubling the tax is 16%, which is between 10% and 20%.  Tricky, eh?

Possible tip calculation #3) Divide the bill by 5.  OK, this was the suggestion from my son, who goes to state math competitions, so don't take it too seriously.  I certainly wouldn't take this approach.

Possible tip calculation #4) Divide the bill by 10, then add a buck or two.  Even I can divide by 10 (just move that little period one to the left.  If you are European, you might want to move the comma instead or the tip could be a bit too generous).

Possible tip calculation #5) Find someone else to date.  That, I am afraid, was my daughter's first suggestion, although the future of this occasional dating advice category may ride on her relenting.

If all of these seem too complex, invite her to eat at your place, where no tipping is required.  If you have to pull out your cellphone, use it to call 1-800-HOT-DATES, as that is where your next date is coming from.  'Nuf said.

Copyright 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

140.1. Stan Rogers
(04/05/2004 09:05 AM)

Take #4 and then round up to the nearest $10 for the total of bill + tip (to avoid rooting about for, or worse WAITING for, change). For the impressing of princesses, use the same rounding technique on #2. Of course, if you really want to impress people, then use the Sinatra technique.

There's no way to override the inline cellpadding and cellspacing attributes. The CSS "equivalents", padding and margin attached to cells, are not really equivalent. You can try negative margins on TD elements, but they won't necessarilly work, particularly when the table cells are sized in the HTML and the rendering dimensions have already been computed. You can kill them with JS, but that is active and subject to error.

140.2. Duffbert
(04/05/2004 09:19 AM)

#2 wouldn't work in Oregon, as there is no sales tax... :-)

140.3. Rob McDonagh
(04/05/2004 11:04 AM)

I'm with your son. I always divide by 5. Unless I'm not happy with the service, in which case I divide by 10. On the off chance I'm feeling wishy-washy about whether the service was good or not, I'll divide by 10 then divide that by 2 and add the two numbers together (to get to 15%).

By the way, while it's important to impress the princess with your generosity, isn't it also important to impress her with the fact that you know good service from bad? Over-tipping someone who did a bad job can make you look like a fool. That may be a slight improvement on under-tipping someone who did a good job and looking like a cheap weasel, but I don't think it will impress a smart princess...

140.4. Ben Langhinrichs
(04/05/2004 11:15 AM)

Stan - Excellent point about the even change. Always, always, always leave an even dollar amount, unless you put down a $100 bill and say "Keep the change!", but even that only if the actual bill is under $75. As for the attributes, I gagged a lot and used image spacers, but it validates.

Duffbert - Would make a buncha cheap tippers, wouldn't it?

Rob - You make a good point about the over-tipping vs. under-tipping, but only if you can say with a straight face, "The service was not particularly good, so I'm sticking with 10%" Fumbling for the right percentage is a no-no.

140.5. jonvon
(04/05/2004 01:30 PM)

this is one of those things where you could "cheat" a little to get an exact number. multiply by .1, which is the same thing as figuring out 10%. this works out well because all you are doing is moving the decimal over. then double that number. and of course, round up to the nearest dollar amount.


the other option would be taking some remedial math classes...

140.6. Ben's Daughter
(04/05/2004 02:33 PM)

Wow, a bunch of guys who know how to wonder my dad hangs out with you instead of the boys i'm **forced** to date

140.7. Andrew Pollack
(04/05/2004 03:56 PM)

C'mon this is easy!

Move the decimal to get 10%, then add back on about half of whatever that is. Its fast and accurate. Most wait staff are taxed based on an assumed 15% tip, so tipping under 15% is really hard on them. 20% is generous IMO and unless service is excellent (or the price of dinner exceedingly low) should be avoided.

btw: Insecure people tend to overtip. They also tend to order "really really rare!" (or "stampeded over a cigarette lighter then shot") instead of just "rare" or "burnt to a crisp" instead of well done.

If you feel you have to impress the wait staff, you're probably in need of some growing up.

140.8. The "Clueless" one
(04/05/2004 05:17 PM)

Ok, I've had my fair share of RLM's with your Daughter Mr. L, but I didn't use a calculator to do the tip last night. I still have the scrap piece of paper on which I did my mental math.

The bill was $**.64, so I added $4.36 for an even bill. I figure the tips are divided among the employees, so what does it matter if my tip is even or not?

140.9. Ben Langhinrichs
(04/05/2004 06:09 PM)

Hi, "Clueless". Thanks for stopping by the blog. There are two sides to every story, and while my daughter's may be more entertaining, I do believe you. Unfortunately, she is the one who gets to call the shots, so you need to convince her. I was simply using the opportunity to enlighten the truly clueless out there who don't use scrap paper to do their mental math (grin).

140.10. "Clueless"
(04/05/2004 06:28 PM)

I was hoping you'd catch that...

140.11. Andrew Pollack
(04/05/2004 06:31 PM)

Dating has changed since I was that age!

btw: Who's kidding who about this not being dating but some kind of date-education.

It looks like a pair ducks, it quacks like a pair of ducks. Its a pair of ducks.

Lets just avoid the ducklings for a bit, shall we?

= :-)

140.12. Ben's little Princess
(04/05/2004 07:00 PM)

Andrew!! I am highly insulted that you think I would be as irrational and hotheaded and.....

Besides, no one is kidding anyone else. I dont date the boy, I'm simply making him more presentable. And if you follow my dad's blog, I'm sure you can see that he needs some work :)

140.13. Andrew Pollack
(04/06/2004 03:52 AM)

Irrational and hotheaded and....? No, just human like the rest of us. As to not dating...

Quack, quack.

As to needing some work...

Look again kid. He may not be Mr. Smooth quite yet, but would you really want to go out with someone slick and polished? What would a 17 year old boy who was slick and polished be like in ten years? Could you trust him? This kid thinks enough of you to maintain a much higher level of interest than he's letting on, and has the spine to speak up on a public discussion to your Dad in a place where his friends hang out. Thats not a thing to be taken lightly. Your dad deserve credit for being approachable, but the boy wonder also deserve credit for having the stones to do it.

I have no idea if Mr. Manners is a good guy, a bad guy, a future hero or a twerp -- but he does probably deserve to be taken seriously.

140.14. jonvon
(04/06/2004 06:43 AM)

but perhaps not "ducklings" serious.


at 17 there is still a lot of life to live!

140.15. Andrew Pollack
(04/06/2004 07:44 AM)

Jon, we agree! I remember 17 and feeling distinctly otherwise, but from this vantage point 17 sure does seem like its still ducklings itself.


140.16. Andrew Pollack
(04/06/2004 07:50 AM)

All kidding aside, Princess;

If there is one thing most adults I know (myself included) regret, its the mistakes we made by not having the courage to drop the need to be cool and failing to take seriously and unselfconciously relationships from this time in our lives.

No matter how happy I am today, and no matter how much I'm positive I'd never want things to have turned out differently; I still regret those things from when I was your age. I'm still friends with most of the girls (women now) that I went out with in high school, and over the intervening years its something we've all talked about. We were stupid about that.

140.17. Carolyn Kraut
(04/06/2004 01:08 PM)

Always funny to read comments about dating from the opposite sex :-).

Ben - allow me to say that here in the northeast if you left a tip of 10% you would be banned from the restaurant for life! Here to minimum going rate is 15%. For large groups restaurants automatically tack on 18% - 20%.

As far as calculating the tip goes - I usually use method #2. In NY doubling the tax gives approx 17%, while in Boston I triple the tax to get a base of 15%. In other places I use Andrew's method of figuring 10% and then adding half of that to that value.

Of course if anyone here thinks Ben's daughter is just being way to picky, just blame it on her genes and her upbringing :-)

140.18. Jan Van Puyvelde
(07/04/2004 03:55)

Here in Belgium (and I expect also in the rest of Europe), you just pay the bill; service and tax are included. Much easier.

Because of that, NOT giving a tip is of course impossible. But then again, the only time I wanted to do that in the USA, the restaurant itself added a big tip to the bill ! They probably saw it coming ...