Here’s a tip: You’ll catch more funds with honey than vinegar

The other night, I took a friend out for her birthday at an upscale French restaurant. The food is magnificent, as authentic as anything I tasted when I lived in Paris — cue the accordion music. But even perfection has its tics.

Normally, service at this restaurant is sublime. But that night, I had a problem. After having a wonderful meal and then calculating a respectable tip of 20% on a pretty expensive bill, since the service was OK but not exceptional, I gave the waiter the money. He disappeared.

Later on, while I was finishing my coffee, I noticed him glaring at me as he was flitting around the tables nearby. Normally, I leave a tip between 30% to 40% because I used to work in a fast food joint and know that it isn’t exactly easy work. However, I am also aware that nobody is owed a tip, and that it’s not my fault if the employer isn’t paying a decent salary. Just because I want to enjoy a nice salad doesn’t mean I am required to adopt the guy who brings it to my table.

So the glaring, and then the lack of a “thank you” for the tip, was a little unnerving. So I did what I normally do whenever I have an experience that can fit into a couple of short sentences: I hopped on Twitter. Surprisingly, my complaint got a lot of “likes,” which goes to show you I’m not the only one who has had to deal with an ungrateful little whippersnapper. Of course, there were a bunch of current or former waitstaff who weighed in, calling me entitled, saying 20% was a pittance.

The suggestion that a tip is owed, not earned, and the refusal to extend a simple “thank you” is a troubling commentary on something that has more to do with character than carbohydrates. I’m tired of people assuming they have rights and privileges regardless of their own conduct. It’s not like I want a stranger to write me into her will if I hold the door open or let him go ahead of me in line. Those are the normal reflexes of people who live in a civilized society.

I’m talking about the idea that if you extend yourself beyond what is expected in a particular social situation, that should be rewarded by the most valuable and least expensive of things: a smile and acknowledgment. Waiters and waitresses have a hard job, but so do police officers, doctors, construction workers and even immigration lawyers. The last time I checked, no one was leaving money in a tip jar for me.

The assumption that even the most mediocre service deserves some kind of financial premium is wrong. Sorry, but all of those kids who were raised by mommy and daddy to believe that they were special have morphed into presumptuous ingrates. That bread basket you just put on my table is not going to cure cancer.

That being said, I am still going to tip in a grandiose and generous manner when the person who is on the other side of the money acknowledges my humanity. There are a lot of young people who make my lattes, mix my Aperol spritzes and slice my pizza into exactly the correct size of slice who deserve not only a tip, but my genuine gratitude for their genuine kindness.

As for those who think I owe them, this Karen — or Mademoiselle Carine, as the case may be — has better use for her hard-earned dough.

Copyright 2024 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at