Saturday, February 21, 2009

Toto, I don't think we're in New York

In Berlin, a tip is not calculated on a percentage of the total. On the one hand, one German teacher told me he would leave a tip of 1 euro on a cappuccino, say, that cost 2.50. But on the other hand if your bill is 9 euros, say, a 1-euro tip is also fine. The way it works is, they tell you the tab, and then you announce what you want to pay (if you'll be getting change). Maybe the bill is 10.50. You say, as it might be, "Zwölf" (twelve) as you hand over 15 euros, and get 3 euros change.

So OK, I think I understand the system, but I never feel I have a firm grasp on what counts as under-/over-tipping. Bourgeois to the core, I just want to glide through life making people feel good in social situations where they anticipate some kind of financial recognition of their contribution. What happens is, I come up with a proposed payment whose tip element would (I know) be grossly insulting in New York*, and I consistently follow the scheme that I think is roughly right, and I keep going to my favourite bar/cafés, and after a while the staff are giving me hugs and offering me free drinks. It's charming but terrifying.

But now my battery is about to die, so I must go.

* For those who have never been to NY: $1 is not a tip.


Anonymous said...

For coffees/doner teller/anything <5 I generally round up (on the advice of a professor). For sit-downs I hover around a euro, plus or minus service. I've also heard that none at all is fine. Wish this post had come sooner; when I left NYC for Berlin I was still tipping AT LEAST 20% (and leaving it on the table--so no confused/delighted/sind sie amerikaner expressions to learn from).

bernardomoraes said...

Well, in Brazil we ussually don't tip. But in restaurants a service tax of 10% is already included in the final price, but is optional.

thomaspa said...

the only time I have heard of a waiter being insulted by a tip was when my friend received less than 2 euro total from a table of 10, nevertheless I constantly feel like a total cheap-skate tipping 50 cents here and there... even if it is totally acceptable.