Judge This: The Ethics and Customs Of Tipping

I love egg and cheese sandwiches in the morning.  Every once and a while I go to my local diner and order one takeout.  I never stay there to eat egg and cheese sandwiches but in the past I have gone there as frequently as once a week to eat dinner with a friend.

But when I stop in for just the egg sandwich I always spend every last second in the diner in a mental war with myself over whether I should leave a tip.  A long while ago I asked some people whether I should tip and some among them scolded me that of course I should not.  You don’t tip when taking out from the deli or from a fast food restaurant or a chinese restaurant unless it’s a delivery.  So, you shouldn’t tip when taking out from a diner either.  But since these are waiters and waitresses who take my order at the diner and since I know that’s what they are and I know who they are quite well, I feel terrible not tipping.  I don’t want to tip out of slavery to guilt though.  I understand the reasoning that tipping is for service and there’s no more service that a waiter or waitress gives me on a takeout arrangement than the deli guys give when I’m there.

I always tip scrupulously in accord with local tipping customs when it comes to bartenders and delivery men and waiters and waitresses when I’m seated, etc.  It’s not that I’m stingy, I’m just unsure what the expectations are, what fairness requires, etc.

So, you tell me, should I go with my gut which is dying to tip or with my head which thinks tipping should be correlated only with service-based arrangements?

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Carrie

    You’re guy is right– you should tip, at least a little bit. I am a server, and when the carry out section closes at night, I take all of the to-go orders, as well as all of my other tables. It is something extra that the servers have to do. They don’t cook the food, but they usually have to wrap it up, put in napkins, bread, silverware, etc… and then take your payment. It is always nice to get a good tip for carry-out, but it make sense if you want to tip a little less than 20%. The point is, the server is still doing work for you, your order will be added to his/her total sales, and their tip-out to the busser might be more due to carry-out. So it stinks to lose money on a carry out order. Hope this helps a little!

  • Carrie

    I meant that your “gut” is right!

  • Daniel Fincke

    it does help a little indeed, thanks!


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