A Love Letter to the 20% Tippers

Fuck, I love you.

Fuck, I love you.

Dear Customers Who Tip 20%,

Roses are red, violets are blue. 20%? I love you.

Maybe I don’t say it enough, but you mean the world to me. Some people might look at our “open relationship” as questionable, but it really works for us. I appreciate that you don’t mind when I give attention to other tables because you understand that I have so much love to give that I can spread it around thicker than the mayo on your BLT that you asked to be extra crispy. My love for you is everlasting and just because I have eyes for Table 13 doesn’t mean I don’t have them for Table 12 too.

20% tippers like you make my heart flutter and skip a beat or two because you understand me. You get that I am doing my best to satisfy you and that I am not happy until you are. Sure, it may look like I don’t care very much about whether or not your burger comes out medium or medium-well, but you still reach into your wallet and tip me 20% because you know it’s the right thing to do since my hourly wage is practically non-existent. That’s what I love about our relationship. I act like I don’t care and you act like you can’t say please, but in the end, I still get your food for you and you still leave me a good tip. Ours is like a fifty-year old marriage that keeps on plugging away because of our mutual respect for one another and our ability to move on with our lives when things don’t go exactly as planned. Oops, I forgot to fill your water glass. That’s okay. Mistakes happen, right? Oops, you snapped your fingers at me, but that’s alright too because every relationship has its rocky moments and we just get through them. I forgive you for snapping your fingers at me if you promise to still tip 20% and you forgive me for forgetting your water if I promise to bring you a lemon the next time. That’s how relationships work. It’s called compromising and we are both pretty good at it. After all, I have compromised my life goals and put on an apron every day instead and you have compromised your expectations by accepting that my service is what it is.

We don’t have to buy each other gifts on Valentine’s Day or on our birthdays or even on our anniversary. Our admiration for one another exceeds the need for gifts and trinkets. The fact that we each play our role so well is enough for both of us. I will continue to take your food order and serve it to you to the best of my ability and you will carry on with the 20% tip. Our relationship is one that other will envy because we don’t fill our days with superfluous “I love you’s” that are too soon forgotten. The occasional smile and the subtle eye contact is enough most of the time, but for today, 20% tipper, I say it: I love you.

Your server

11 thoughts on “A Love Letter to the 20% Tippers

  1. Mari

    Dear servers,

    There are very few things that will make me tip less than 20% (ignoring my presence, taking 30 minutes to brings drinks when we are one of only three tables in a restaurant, etc)… but on holidays like Thanksgiving or Valentines? Or hell, even my birthday? You MFers are getting tipped more in the 50% range.

    XOXO (but not really, because I don’t kiss or hug strangers),


  2. Rebecca

    Hi! I’m just wondering, because I find it a little confusing (being Australian and our hospitality work obviously working differently to yours in some ways) what exactly IS the deal with tipping? I know a good amount is 15-20% of the bill, and it goes to you servers because you work your asses off and get a very low hourly wage ($2-$5?! Really?!) but my question is are the prices lower for the food there because the customer is expected to tip? I would kind of expect the restaurant to do so if they are essentially expecting customers to pay their employees’wages. Tipping isn’t as bigger deal here, as we get comparatively very generous wages (I get 22.50 p/h as a casual waitress over 21) sometimes you get something, sometimes you get nothing from a table you’ve slaved over, and it’s annoying but not the end of the world. Just wondering.

    1. Eden

      No, food is not cheaper here to offset the tip structure. People have to just calculate it in when ordering if they are on a budget. Food $100, tip $20. That’s it. Can’t afford it, order less.

  3. Gilbey

    I’ll give you 20-30% if the food is decent and you’re nice. But I’m wondering what you should tip at a Chinese buffet where they only bring you a big drink, the rare refill and clear the plates? I used to live next to the Chinese and everyone of them that worked at such a place lived in the same house. Saving money, I guess, to send back to China.
    So if they all know each other and are in this cycle of taking care of each other (both here and back in China), are the Chinese waitresses being paid the minimum the state tells the owner they have to pay, or do they use a different system that’s not tip based? It’s not like these places ever have job openings in the paper, everyone that works there seems to be connected through the old country, so I don’t think I’m nuts for wondering about how they get paid.
    I figure the drinks/clear plates might be worth a buck a person, and I don’t have a problem with that, but sometimes I don’t have change and when I’ve gone back to the table, it’s cleared and new people are already seated…
    Should I really worry about it? Are the waitresses having a good laugh at us westerners that leave tips for no reason?
    PS This isn’t a racist thing, I don’t think Bitchy is Chinese, it’s just that I don’t have anyone else as well-versed in the profession to ask…

    1. Anthony

      They are supposed to be making at least minimum wage at a Chinese buffet. They average about 8.50 an hr. Not sure if some buffet restaurants pay server wages, but would be totally messed up if they did. I always tip them 5 bucks per 2 people when i go. Either way they still SERVICE YOU…they pick up all dirty plates, refill your glasses, ask you if you need anything, and give you a fortune cookie.

    2. Lucy

      Tip those Chinese Buffet people what you feel is fair. Though I think since most of these buffets are pretty cheap…20% or more would do. By the way….tip in cash. They aren’t getting the majority of tips that are on the credit card and highly doubt they get paid at all since many are here illegally through a form of indenture.

    3. Mangler

      Buffet servers tend to turn tables more quickly than full service restaurants, and their sections seem to be larger than the chain restaurants 3 or 4 table rule. While they aren’t taking orders and ensuring the food was presented as ordered, they are still clearing the tables, cleaning them, and bringing drink refills. I would hope that diners chip in at least a buck per head. I have noticed that at my preferred Japanese buffet, we get much more than a simple hello from the staff now that they’ve learned we will leave a few dollars instead of nothing.
      The same goes with to-go staff anywhere. They take the order, assemble it and any extras, and have it waiting for you. Is that a 20% tip? Not usually. But they did do work for you. Regular to-go customers who leave tips get swifter and kinder service than those who are known not to leave tips.

  4. April

    Dear Servers,
    I love you. You bring me alcohol and tasty food. You don’t judge me (out loud) when I have eaten too much.

    When I’m sitting in your booth and midnight with a friend and have ordered nothing but coffee so we can chat for 3 hours, you are always very nice to me and don’t show your impatience. Especially because you know I will tip you enough to make up for the fact that you could have turned the table over 3 times.

    I also know that I cannot do your job. for 4 miserable weeks I tried, and I suck at it.

    So thank you for bringing me alcohol!!

  5. Trish Deveaux

    Dear Servers:
    I am blown away by your affection and believe me, the feeling is mutual. I consider myself a rational, kind and generous human being who can tell if a server is really trying and quick to suggest a remedy or if they’re just screwing around. Most of the ones I have contact with are really working hard and I always give points (extra tip) for that effort.
    I try to set a good example for my fellow diners but they don’t always get it. I’ll keep at it and spread the joy.
    Your customer

    1. Ciara

      Dear customer,

      You are the kind of customer we love to see coming. The ones who understand that it’s a tough job and appreciate our efforts. You are the kind of person I always give extra dessert to.


      A waitress


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