Tag Archives: Steve Dublanica

Tip heavily and carry cash

After his book Waiter Rant came out, Steve Dublanica picked up the nickname “The Tipping Guru.”  However, he didn’t feel like the king of gratuities, beyond waiting tables, that is.  So he went on a quest to become one and he did so by interviewing those in the professions that are most notably tipped.   Not only did he want to know what was considered an appropriate tip for different kinds of services, but he wanted to know what the tippees thought of tippers.  Did they ever seek revenge for those who tipped poorly or not at all?  (Hint: you bet your ass they did.)

First, though, Dublanica tried to research the history of tipping.  Where did it come from and why did it start?  One legend is that a London coffee shop put jars on tables with a sign that read, “To Insure Prompt Service”, hence the acronym “tips”.  But there is no proof to back up the story.  More interestingly, though, is that in most languages, the word used for “tips” is synonymous with “drink money,” something Dublanica said he and his fellow waiters often used their tips for.  As for when tipping started in America, it’s even harder to pinpoint.  It is popularly believed that tipping in America became prominent in the early post-Civil War era.  The Pullman Palace Car Company hired ex-slaves to staff and service sleeping cars on trains.  George Pullman, founder and owner of the company, paid these ex-slaves wages so low that they depended on their income to derive from tips.  According to one editorial written at the time, “‘The Pullman Company [discovered] how to work the sympathies of the public…to make up, by gratuities…its failure to pay its employees a living wage…It was the Pullman Company which fastened the tipping habit on the American People and they used the [ex-slaves] as the instrument to do it'” (page 17).  There you have it: get the public to sympathize and as owner of a company, you don’t have to pay your workers a living wage, at least not back then.  Here’s the best part of that editorial: the author was Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham.

We know that tipping a waiter should be between 15 and 20 percent of the bill, but did you know that includes alcohol?  Apparently, some people are unaware of this and will subtract the bar bill and tip the lower amount.  Bartenders need gratuities, too.  And often times waiters and bartenders need to pay out other workers in the restaurant, like the kitchen staff or the busboys.  So, keep in mind that when you tip, you’re probably not just tipping the waiter.

Now, when you’re staying in a hotel, don’t forget to leave a few bucks every day for the maid.  Not only does it insure that your bathroom gets clean, but it also insures that the person who cleans your place gets the money.  The same maid does not clean the same rooms day to day so it’s important to leave a couple bucks each day.  If you use a valet service for your car, it’s best to tip half up front and half when picking up the car.  This will give you prompt service.  Bad or no tippers sometimes end up having to wait longer for their cars.  One valet admitted to sweaty butt cheeks making contact with bad tippers’ front seats.  I’ve never used a valet, but you can bet that when I do, I’ll be tipping heavily up front.

Now, I could go on and on about all the professions that Dublanica researched, from doormen to taxi drivers, from pet groomers to sex workers.  (Yes, even sex workers receive tips.)  But to fully comprehend tipping, one should really read the book.  Tipping is an intricate business, one which Americans spend a lot of money on each year.  For me, the book was not only interesting but also eye-opening.  It will make you think about all the people you’ve stiffed over the years, even if you never intended to.  But after reading the book, you’ll never not tip again.  Need to know what to tip and whom during the holidays or if you’re throwing a wedding?  Then this book is for you.

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Posted by on December 12, 2010 in Literature


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Here’s a tip: be a good customer

Waiter Rant started as a blog and the writer, waiter Steve Dublanica, then turned it into a book which became a New York Times bestseller.  It gives an inside look into the front end of the restaurant business (and a little into the back end, as well).

There’s one chapter about bugs and sanitation*, another about Russell Crowe eating at his restaurant and throughout all chapters are stories of customers, some good, but mostly bad.  It’s an eye-opening look on human behavior.  One story tells of a man who demands to be seated for where he made his reservation, despite the woman having a stroke in that area and it being cleared to give the medics room to work.  I work retail so it doesn’t surprise me that people act like this.  It just made me hyper-aware of how I act at a restaurant.

The are 3 appendixes as well: how to be a good customer, how to tell if you’re working at a bad restaurant, and items a waiter should always carry.  Since I’ve never been a waiter, the first appendix was the only one relevant to me (but the other two were still interesting and funny to read).  Some of the things he listed were obvious to me, like the Golden Rule and not snapping your fingers to get the waiter’s attention.  (Sadly, some people don’t know this.)  Other tips were one’s I never knew, especially when it came to wine etiquette.  One of his tips on this subject: check to see if the cork matches the label on the wine bottle.

All in all, this was a fascinating book to read.  Everyone should read it and then take an honest look at themselves to see if they are a bad customer or a good customer.  I’m eager to pick up Dublanica’s follow-up book Keep the Change, which is due out in November this year.

*I read this part while in bed one night.  Dublanica stated, “As you’re reading this, you’re being watched by a dozen pairs of eyes peeking out of the dark corners of your house.”  Thankfully, I didn’t have the nightmares I thought I would.

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Posted by on August 8, 2010 in Literature


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The most common question has the hardest answer

“What are you reading right now?” coworkers and customers alike ask me.  Sometimes I think it might be easier to answer the question, “What aren’t you reading right now?”  I usually have two or three books going at once but currently I have a few more than even that.  Some books take longer than others, especially if the subject is a difficult one.  Even if I finish one book, another one may grab my attention so I begin that one rather than finishing another one that I’ve already started.  It really doesn’t help that I see all the new books that come into the bookstore where I work or that I’m constantly talking about books and authors with friends, coworkers, and customers.  So, in no particular order, here is what I am currently reading:

Heist Society by Ally Carter
I’ve enjoyed reading Carter’s Gallagher Girls series so I picked up this stand-alone.  In the book 15-year-old Kat Bishop is blackmailed into returning some stolen paintings to Arturo Taccone, who thinks that her father took them.  Believing her father is innocent, Kat sets off to find the paintings and get them back to Arturo before her deadline is up.  She locates the paintings but has to assemble the best teenage thieves she knows to get them back.  So far, I’m enjoying the humor and adventure in the book.  I also like how Carter has tied WWII history into it (Kat thinks that Arturo’s paintings were stolen out of homes by the Nazis).  There are minor things that irritate me, though, like how many times the action breaks right after someone hears a familiar voice and confusion over who is speaking and to whom.  I did not have this problem with the Gallagher Girl books, but those are written in first person whereas Heist Society is written in third.  Overall, though, it’s a fun read.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
This book is all arguments for why god doesn’t exist.  Dawkins views several areas of argument for and against religion to drive home his thesis.  I am already atheist so I agree with what Dawkins says but I still find it interesting to see how others argue for religion (and his rebuttal to said arguments).  I’ve been reading this for several months now, not because I’m not enjoying it, but because Dawkins is quite intelligent and it’s hard for me to read too much at once.  Also, I do the bulk of my reading in the morning to wake up my brain and this book is not one for a sleepy mind.  Keep checking back as I will write a full review of the book once I’m done reading it.

Yes Means Yes!  Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape ed. by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti
Not only am I an atheist, I am also a feminist.  Jessica Valenti has written some amazing books on feminism so I snatched this book up when I found out she helped with it.  The book is a collection of essays from several writers.  Each essay has several themes and the reader is encouraged (from the introduction) to use the themes listed at the end of essays like links on a webpage.  “If you like x theme, try these essays next.”  Like clicking on a webpage, the reader can jump around the book rather than being constrained to reading from front to back.  This is one of the many things I like about this book.  Sometimes I’m not in the mood to read about “Media Matters” or I may be drawn to “Surviving to Yes” some days.  It’s also a perfect layout for someone like me (someone who is reading a lot of books at once).  The essays are easily read in short increments.  The subject matter, though, is tough and gets me riled up (we shouldn’t put blame on the victims of the crime but on the criminals!) or depressed (why does rape even have to happen?).  Females and males both should read this book.  Everyone is affected by rape and it can only end when we start talking about it (silence breeds the disease).

The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions by Kenji Kawakami
I’ve seen this book around for years but it wasn’t until recently that I acquired it.  The book is exactly what the title says: “Unuseless Japanese Inventions”.  Apparently, it’s a form of art to make something people could use but is so ridiculous that it can’t be used.  Pictures, of course, show these inventions and brief descriptions of each are given.  Take for example The Earring Safety Net.  Tiny bowls are strapped to a woman’s shoulders and should an earring come loose from her lobe, there’s no need to worry!  The Earring Safety Net will catch it.  You’ll never have just one earring again!  The idea itself is hilarious but to truly appreciate it, you must see the picture.  Go pick it up at your local library or bookstore.  You won’t regret it.

Finally, there are two books I am just a few pages into so I can’t really say much about them.  They are Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica and On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

Well, it looks like I have some reading to do!  Until next time…


Posted by on June 29, 2010 in Literature


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