As you may or may not know, I keep the lights on via my job serving fish guts and such. We are paid minimum wage in Minnesota, but there are states like South Dakota where places can pay below minimum wage, with the thought that tips bring the total wage above the minimum. Last week my paycheck showed I worked 24 hours, and my take home after taxes was $34 from my hourly wages. Below is an article out of my home town newspaper, the Argus Leader about tipping. Never hurts to remind people. My other point of note: leaving a tract for your waiter is great, but don’t skimp on the tip. The greatest tract in the world will be tossed if you stiff you waiter, and it gives the rest of us Christians a bad image. Generally the difference between a good tip and a poor tip is just a few dollars, but it makes a significant difference to your wait staff. If you are eating out frequently enough that leaving a few extra dollars is impacting your budget, you need to eat out less. Be good stewards and good witnesses! It never hurts to be generous.

TIPPING AND SERVICE, a Web site dedicated to questions of etiquette, offers the following guidelines for restaurant service tipping.

Restaurants report about 12 percent of the gross sales for food and beverage to the IRS for their staff. So if your food bill is $100 and your bar tab for the table is another $100, the restaurant will report $24 in income for that server. Regardless of whether you leave a little or a lot, the server still pays tax on the amount. If restaurants do not report it accurately, the restaurant and the wait staff get audited by the IRS.

Some say tipping is a reward for good service, and others say it will help a customer receive good service in the future. It comes down to the individual, but here’s a look at amount guidelines.

Food server: 15 percent to 20 percent
Cocktail server: 15 percent to 20 percent (ignore this if you’re a fundy or a Bethel Student :-)
Bartender: 15 percent to 20 percent or $1 per drink. If you’re at the bar before a meal, settle up with the bartender before you go to your table. If the bar has a cover charge, you do not tip on it. (ignore this if you’re a fundy or a Bethel Student :-)
Wine steward: 10 percent of the wine bill. (ignore this if you’re a fundy or a Bethel Student :-)
Busers: Nothing, unless he or she has done something extra special such as cleaning up a huge mess. Then, give $1-$2.
Maitre d’: Nothing, unless he or she gets you a special table, or the restaurant is full and you had no reservation. Then give $5-$10 or more.
Coat check: $1
Restroom attendant: $1
Musician in lounge: $1-$5
Musician who visits table: $2-$3 if you make a special request. Optional if he or she just stops by and plays.
Drive-through: Nothing.
Self-service restaurant or buffet: Nothing unless there is some service. Tip 10 percent if the server delivers all or part of your meal or keeps drinks refilled.
Separate checks: If you want separate checks, ask the server to add 18 percent gratuity to each check.
Takeout: If you get good service – in other words, the waiter gets and packages the food – then tip $1-$2 or up to 10 percent.

If you get awful service, talk to the manager. The manager cannot correct the situation if he doesn’t know about it. Skipping the tip will not accomplish anything, and the next poor customer who gets that server will get the same service you did.

If you are buying the meal and someone offers to get the tip, tell them they can buy next time, and you pay the whole thing. This prevents any uneasiness about them seeing the amount of the bill or worrying that they will be stingy on the tip.

If you hold a table for two servings, make sure that you tip double. In other words, if you spend enough time at a table that a waiter could have typically gotten two parties seated and served, then compensate him for his time by tipping him twice. I like to ease his mind by telling him this about half-way through.