A good friend from China is now traveling in Egypt, where he has problems with tipping in a restaurant. Yesterday his wife tipped a waitress $20, about 10% of the check. Then he spontaneously took it back and gave $5 instead. He was like, “I will not be seeing this waitress again in my life, so why should I tip her that much? Americans are famous for giving very generous gratuities, and that’s why they are welcomed wherever they go. But that sort of fame is nonsensical to me. I just hope to not defame Asians as a whole.”
Well, the fact is not about generosity or good fame. A waiter or waitress spends time waiting on patrons and expects to receive tips of a well-established range of percentages (normally 10% ~ 20% and up). That’s the way he or she makes a living. Yes, the restaurant usually pays a little, hence the importance of tipping. Put yourself in a waitress’s shoes. When you have spent considerable time and energy entertaining a table and end up getting almost nothing from them, what would you think of them? You may regret not being smart enough to wait on a “generous customer” and snub that table of shitty people. Whether or not you’re going to see them again, they are the shitty people you would whine about for days. How worse could a guy be when a shop assistant gives him a lot of sincere advice on buying only to find out he’s a shoplifter?
Bottom line: a good tip is important to service workers, so long as the service itself is satisfactory. It doesn’t have to be very generous, but please make it substantial, not like a 2.5%-or-$5-off-a-$200-check thing. If there’s a reason to undertip, state your concerns honestly. If you just hope to avoid leaving a tip, take meals home without having a seat in the eating house or enjoying any service. A fast food eatery or food court is also a good choice to get rid of tipping. Both local residents and travelers have to be tip-conscious where the tipping culture is prevalent.