The Simple Reason Why I Love To Over Tip, Even if the Service is Terrible

Roz Warren

Yesterday morning, my car refused to start, so I phoned AAA. Ten minutes later, an friendly guy with a truck turned up to give my car a jump. As he worked on my battery, we chatted about the Phillies, the weather and politics. When my car was running again, I thanked him.

“Can I give you a little extra?” I asked, handing him a five.

His face lit up. “Thanks!” he said. “I appreciate it.”

The jump was free. My membership dues covered it. He didn’t expect a tip. But I got a kick out of giving him one.

I like to tip. I’m not rich. I work in a public library. I drive a 20-year-old car. I’m frugal by nature. But? Giving somebody a generous tip always makes me feel like a million bucks.

Maybe it’s because I was a waitress for years. People who have waited on others often tip well. Although I know one ex-waitress who doesn’t tip unless the service is exceptional.

“I refuse to give someone a tip just for doing their job,” she says.

If the service is poor? She won't leave a cent.

Everyone has their own rules about tipping. I know folks who barely have a dime who leave generous tips, and at least one millionaire who never leaves more than ten percent, even when the service is outstanding. (His wife usually slips some extra cash onto the table when he isn’t looking.)

I know a business traveler who generously tips everyone — except the maid who cleans his hotel room.

“It’s not as if I trash the room like a rock star,” he says. “I never leave a mess. I don’t yank the TV off the wall and throw it out the window. I don’t even drop used towels on the floor. All she really has to do is change the sheets and replace the soap.”

I always tip. In fact, I always over tip. It’s fun to give folks more money than they expect. It doesn’t cost that much to make someone’s day. I’m a happy person. Why not spread the joy around?

Even if the service is ordinary, I’ll tip at least 20 percent. If the service is really bad, I might only tip 15. As an ex-waitress who was “stiffed” a few times myself, I’m reluctant to leave the devastating “you’re worthless” message that withholding a tip sends.

Maybe there’s a reason she forgot to bring my appetizer, left the cheese off my cheeseburger, then spilled hot coffee on my phone, I’ll think to myself. Maybe she’s going through a painful divorce. Maybe she has a terminal illness.

I don’t want to increase the poor woman’s suffering by not leaving a tip.

I once asked a new hairdresser for a blunt cut.

“Please, whatever you do, don’t layer it,” I asked.

Of course, she layered it. When I saw the result in the mirror, I felt sick. Vowing never to return to her salon, I tipped her anyway.

It’s not her fault she’s an idiot.

What about the argument that denying her a tip would motivate her to improve? When I was a waitress, I saw absolutely no connection between tipping and quality of service. Some people were great at waiting tables. Others were awful at it.

Tipping didn’t change that.

All I know is that nobody wanted to wait on the customers known to be bad tippers, so these folks always ended up with the newest, most incompetent servers. If they didn’t appreciate good service, why waste it on them?

When in doubt, I tip.

It may not be expected, but it’s always appreciated.

Nobody ever says “No thanks,” and hands the money back.

I tip waiters, haircutters, the gas station attendant who fills my tank and the muscular dudes who move my piano. I leave money on the nightstand for the person who cleans my hotel room, even though I’m quite tidy.

I always tip Lyft drivers, even when they drive too fast and I disagree with the political views that are blaring from their radios. If they get me to my destination without crashing the car, they get a generous tip from me.

Try it yourself. If you can afford it? Tip generously! You’ll be creating a little extra happiness, and this world needs all the happiness it can get.

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at

Bala Cynwyd, PA

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