Don’t be cheap, remember to tip well

Mai Hoang

I’m a poor college student.

Yeah, that’s not new.

I work at a job that pays probably less than those garment workers in Cambodia, even with a raise this semester.

But I know how to tip, when it’s due. So it just drives me insane when people – who probably get a heck lot more than I do – don’t give their waiters more than the penny or nickel in their change purse.

Okay a math lesson. Five cents of a dollar is five percent. Five cents of five dollars is one percent. You’re supposed to give 15 percent.

As stated earlier, I am poor. But I always give at least 15 percent. Most times I give 20 percent. (Most times it’s easier to calculate that figure.)

Blame it on one of my good high school friends. She was a waitress at

The Old Spaghetti Factory in Louisville, so for her the whole tipping issue was personal.

So when we would eat in the various fine establishments in the Derby City, she would watch me like a hawk as I placed my money for the tip.

It wasn’t her business really, but she would ask me how much my bill was then how much of a tip. If wasn’t at least 20 percent, she would slap my hand.

I didn’t want to take any chances that she would have a ruler when she would slap my hand next. I tipped 20 percent from then on.

Tipping well was already a habit by the time I arrived in college. But it was this semester that I truly understood why I needed to dish out the extra cash.

I can never resist a delicious patty melt and ice cold cup of coke from the Steak-n-Shake on Scottsville Road. So, I ignore the Easy Mac in my kitchen and spend the extra money for gas and food.

I’ve probably gone to the restaurant about 20 times. I’m not kidding. A few times a week really adds up a lot. It’s become a tradition that me and a few fellow Herald staff members go after every production night.

But I don’t go there because the food is the greatest, although it’s pretty good. I could probably save my money and go to a fancier restaurant.

I go for Becky and the other fine waiters and waitresses at the establishment.

It’s like an episode of Cheers. Not only do they know my name, they know my order too. “Okay, I’ll get your Coke,” Becky said when I arrived at Steak-n-Shake one early Tuesday morning.

Becky amazes me sometimes. How someone can be so cheery when one has to work all night until the early morning hours is beyond me. I just get fussy.

But she’s cheery. We hear about her day, she asks us about the Herald. She gives us her best service. Frequent refills of our drinks and coupons for cheaper food.

So when I decide how much to tip, I know that giving anything less than a dollar just isn’t appropriate for me. She makes about $3 an hour to be nice to me and my friends. It hardly seems fair that I don’t help her out in return.

So even if I have a $3 dollar order, I still give $1 dollar. Yes, I realize that is more than 20 percent.

But it doesn’t matter.

Tipping isn’t just a set percentage anymore.

It’s for the good guys like Becky and all the rest.

Mai Hoang is a junior print journalism major from Louisville. The opinions expressed in this commentary reflect only those of the writer and not of the Herald or of Western Kentucky University.