Here’s a tip

Laura K. Silver is a trustee of the Jewish Light who writes a blog for the paper’s website (  She owns The Paper Trail of St. Louis, a financial and legal concierge service. She is the mother of two elementary school-age children.

By Laura K. Silver

Let me be clear — I believe in tipping.  I think that waiters and waitresses work hard for their money and that they deserve to be compensated for a job well done. I also believe that when someone does an extraordinary job, he or she should be rewarded for going above and beyond. 

But I have to draw some lines, and here’s where they are.  First, I don’t like it when gratuity is automatically added to bills for “large parties” and then those “large parties” receive bad service.  Shouldn’t the bill say “suggested gratuity” and allow you to adjust up or down based on reality?  I recently paid 18 percent gratuity for a table of 6. We waited nearly an hour for our lunch because our waiter disappeared. We then sat waiting for our bill for an extra half hour because he never bothered to come back to us. This doesn’t seem right.

Another biggie for me is the tip jar.  I’m not sure when it became acceptable to peer pressure people into tipping at take out places, and I can’t understand what sets apart those who have them from those who don’t.  Apparently it’s customary at coffee shops, such as Starbucks but not at places that serve coffee, such as the St. Louis Bread Company.  What am I missing? 

Fast food restaurants haven’t followed the trend.  I don’t generally eat McDonalds, but I’m pretty sure I can have a walk away with a McAnything without tipping the the counter staff.  Ice cream at Baskin Robbins is still tip free, but FroYo and Chill are not. I’m now tipping for self serve?

I think we need to get back to the basics and appreciate a good server or extra special service when we see them.  This may be the best tip I can offer.