DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently started working in a restaurant in my town. The other day, I was excited to see that a friend of mine came by. I went out of my way to make sure she felt comfortable and had a great time. I gave her a bunch of freebies, too. In the end, she left me a skimpy tip. Should I confront her? -- Skimpy Tip
DEAR SKIMPY TIP: This is tricky and should be handled delicately. Next time you talk to your friend, ease into the conversation. Thank her for coming to your restaurant. Ask her if she enjoyed the food. Ask her if she thought you took good care of her. This is a new job, after all, so you want to make sure you are taking care of the customers well. If she acknowledges that she enjoyed her meal and your attention to her, tell her you have an uncomfortable question to ask. With her blessing, ask her why she left such a small tip. There’s a very good chance that she doesn’t know the art of tipping. This could have been an honest error. These days, 15% of the bill is a standard tip. A generous tip would be 20% and over. Since you gave her a bunch of freebies, their value would not have been added onto the final bill, so she would need to have a sense of what they cost or of how far beyond the call of duty you went for her in order to calculate a good tip.
This may end up being a moment of education for your friend; I bet she thought she was doing right by you in patronizing your restaurant -- which she was. It is likely simple naivete regarding tips rather than an intentional diss at play. By gently educating your friend, you should be able to resolve this.