To tip or not to tip, that is the question; Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of being a cheapskate; or bestow a gracious tip when called for. With apologies to the Bard, I want to share with you moments deserving of a generous tip — even beyond the magic 20 percent we see as the highest suggested tip on our bill.

Recently, we returned from another trip to New Orleans. For those of you who “know what it means to miss New Orleans,” you’re probably nodding your head as you read these words. New Orleans is like that.

Our trip began at BWI. It was o’dark-thirty and we were checking our bags with American Airlines. The rep was bright and friendly, teasing me for being a little confused (sleepy) and winked at my wife, “That’s why the woman should be in charge.” Our trip had hardly begun and that rep was like an ice-cold welcome orange juice in the morning. Something good was in store.

At first blush, we were a little disappointed that our

hotel wasn’t right in the French Quarter as in previous stays there. If that disappointment existed, it was then extinguished with the first smile from the folks at the front desk. From the first “hello” to the last “thank you, goodbye,” that hotel’s staff made me feel like I did when I was a little kid and was about to have a sleepover with my best friend. Not once were interactions there forced or phony. They’d remember where we’d planned to go, so our greeting was more like “Did ya have fun at the Gazebo?”

Speaking of the Gazebo — our first stop for daiquiris and to listen to jazz — our waiter was more than a server. He’d do all the normal things attentively, without hovering. And he was a witty tease, anticipating our comments, keeping us laughing and enjoying ourselves. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to New Orleans for the four folks joining us for the first time. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see he was not doting on us, but had several tables he kept in smiles the entire time. Twenty percent for a tip? No, sir, he deserved more. We wanted him to join us for the rest of the day.

Later, one of our group wanted to taste New Orleans’ famous absinthe. Our bartender carefully explained the history of the strong libation and explained each step in its preparation, answering the inevitable questions. She even suggested that we all sip that first offering before each of us ordered one, saving us a significant bar bill. A good idea — at $20 per drink, it adds up. And with its licorice flavor, it may not be to everyone’s palette. But each of us (eight in all) were captivated by the bartender’s service and her personality.

Wherever I travel, I enjoy a little science with my vacation. Because I’d enjoyed it so much a few years before, I talked one couple into joining us at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium on Canal Street. One large exhibit is devoted to how insects are and will become more of a human protein source. There, a “diner” with a “chef” prepares cookies, snacks and even cinnamon buns with insects. It took a bit of friendly coaxing — no surprise in that — to get us to try the chef’s offerings. His charm won me over right away, so I opted for a cookie with a fried cricket in the middle. My pleasant surprise lowered the resistance of my wife and she tried one. Not bad at all! The “chef” encouraged me to try the fried mealworms next, something like a mild Frito. His answers to our questions were informative and laced with humor. Later, when in the Butterfly Garden, he served as the host and explained how we could get the unspeakably colorful butterflies to land on our outstretched arms. His enthusiasm was contagious, pointing out butterflies to observe and obviously anxious that we enjoy ourselves.

We commuted with Lyft. And even in something as banal as a car ride, we were made to feel welcome and more often than not, quite entertained. The drivers were helpful and clearly hoping our experiences would make lasting memories.

Certainly, the service and related industries in the Big Easy understand what it takes to make you feel welcome and thoroughly enjoy your stay. New Orleans wouldn’t have the reputation it has if it were otherwise.

I couldn’t help but think of good service anywhere and how we reward it — or not. The folks I mentioned enhanced a great stay. Yet some claim we ought to do away with tipping. I am not so quick to jump on the bandwagon. I believe in that simple expression of appreciation. Caring for luggage, working at a hotel, waiting tables, tending bar, being a docent or driving a taxi is not easy. Customers are often rude and inconsiderate. Is it really asking so much to show appreciation for a fellow human’s efforts to make us comfortable?

Steve Lloyd writes from Clover Hill. He may be reached at

(14) comments


We stayed inthe French Quarter many years ago and whenwe walked men would defer to my wife and say "..for the Cajun Lady." She liked it.


Volunteer docents often give the tip to whatever entity runs the place.


I hope the author follows his own philosophy and generously tips his physician, his spouse, nurses, his children's teachers, many others. These people do far more good for him than just 'make him comfortable'.


Amen to that!


Allways the grump?


What some may call being a grump or negative, in this case, I'd call it being logical or being a realist He is basically pointing out that if certain workers had higher salaries to begin with you wouldn't need 20%+ tips. I certainly value the services of a doctor much more than I do a waiter, for example. Yet I don't tip the doctor figuring he/she is making enough money. About the only thing I do for my doctors is give them a good review if I get good service or I'd give them a bad review if I ever got bad service (which, so far, I haven't had from my doctors).


"Yes, but..." is a common response, even for me, but it also can be a grump's response and to this description of a nice trip and all is really over the line - in my opinion. But that is just human nature. With minimum wages so low we do need to tip to reward good service. And not complain if some do want to do that.


If you believe the propaganda, tipping your waiter is supposed to be for his/her outstanding service, not charity for him/her not earning much. So a service provider's tip should be unrelated to the income.


I understand that FCPS, that's why I tip well when I get great service and leave 2 cents when I get exceptionally poor service. However, there is a general expectation that since those in certain service sector jobs (services for which you seek) that since they are so low paid, it is nice to help them. Whether you pay them a tip directly or pay them through higher wages that the costs are then passed on to you doesn't really matter much unless you're a freeloader and tip nothing when you get good service.


I've had doctors that should have tipped me for being on time for an appointment, while they took an hour afterward to get me seen, then another 2 in the office waiting, 5 minutes visit with a nurse and another hour visit. LIterally I have had 20 minute visits turn into 4-6 hours waiting around. Doctors get paid plenty. Service people..not so much.


A soul in which negativity reigns. Sad.


Because I am feeling argumentative today, I would point out that his post is actually positive. He/She does not advocate tipping some less, but tipping others more (or starting to tip those you do not normally consider tipping). Lord knows nurses deserve tips.


Good point. I just did not see it that way. Perhaps I am the grump.


Many of those who made him "comfortable" don't even make minimum wage. Not taking away from underpaid teachers, etcetera, but they make stable income...they don't. Climb on down from that high horse.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.