>One of my former bosses told me that she always knows who has had restaurant experience when she goes out with a group of people based on how much they tip. She said that people who've never worked in the food service industry generally give tips of up to 15%, but people who have worked tables give closer to 20%. I am fortunate enough to have been able to go through life thus far without waitressing (I guarantee that I would be awful*), but I tip 20% unless service was utterly abysmal (i.e. - the staff was actually rude to me). My ex-boss said I am an exception.
I find that in NYC, most people are calculate tips in one of two ways: they double the tax (which is 8.75%) or they give 20% of the subtotal. Either way seems right to me. The minimum wage in the restaurant industry in NYS is $4.60. In theory, if staff do not earn enough tips to average them out to $7.15 an hour, the restaurant must cough up the extra dough. But how likely is that? Not very.
I rant about this now because I have gone out with some people a few times who consistently refuse to acknowledge that they have to pay tax and tip. It is so bad that I've actually pulled out a calculator to show how their $15 entree is really over $19 when you add tax ($1.31) and tip ($3), so putting in $20 is fair. Even after this, people have argued with me that they overpaid.
Not everyone is good at math. I understand that. I'm no math genius myself. But when I fucking run through the numbers and explain them, and my co-diner still doesn't want to pay his fair share, I am going to be very angry. Because I'm not going to short restaurant staff because my companion is too fucking cheap to pay what he owes, I get stuck paying for it. And it adds up over time. Eventually I just focus on how the person is going to screw me or someone at the end of the meal, and I don't enjoy myself. It makes me not inclined to dine out with certain individuals any more.
*Maurice, the hamster who runs on the wheel that powers my brain, would never be able to keep up with all the orders and I'd always forget to bring people drinks or who ordered what and all that.