Dear Waiter

If someone with a foreign accent forgets to tip, do most waitstaff realize that tipping isn’t a universal practice outside the US and forgive them, or do they get angry about it?

Trust me, we get angry about it. This is how we get paid. It’s your responsibility to know the customs and traditions of the country you’re visiting – it’s not my duty to forgive your ignorance. If I came to your country you’d want me to have a cursory knowledge of its traditions, right? For example, if I went to Iraq I’d be sure never to show some one the bottom of my shoe, I’d be sure to take my slippers off before entering a Japanese house, and I’d know that in England the gratuity’s included in the bill. (But I’d still leave a few extra bob anyway!)

Sorry to have to say this, but quite a few tourists feign ignorance about tipping in order to save themselves a few bucks. They know they’re supposed to tip, but when the check comes they have a sudden case of cynical amnesia. (And God forbid they’re diplomats waving around that goddamn tax exemption card from the State Department!) I’ve seen the smarmy self congratulatory smiles as the cheapskates pat themselves on the back for pulling one over on the American Waiter. If you even try and explain the concept of tipping they get outraged and sometimes even forget how to speak English. I’ve seen fluent English speakers go suddenly mute when I tried explaining that yes, they did have to pay the pesky service charge on their party of twenty people! Sorry, but it’s the truth. (And it’s almost always the Europeans! The Asian tourists usually tip. Go figure.)

That being said, I’ve had many more lovely, gracious, and good tipping customers from all over the world than I’ve had cheap Eurotrash. (Ooops! That’s not very PC is it? My bad.) Some of my best customers were from across the pond. I guess bad tipping foreigners prove that being an asshole is not a uniquely American phenomenon.

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