The Complicated World of Tipping

Why tip someone for a job I'm capable of doing myself? I can deliver food, I can drive a taxi, I can and do cut my own hair. I did, however, tip my urologist. Because I am unable to pulverize my own kidney stones.

- Dwight Schrute, “The Office”

I’m not sure I necessarily agree with Mr. Schrute here, but his quote has sparked a thought in my head that I want to bring to the forefront so people can help me out: who the heck do you tip? 


To be up front, aside from wait staff and pizza delivery folks (who, in my opinion, you should always tip 20%...more if the service is great), I really have no solid idea who should be tipped.  I hate it when I go to a place where I pay and the tip line is right underneath the total and I have no idea if they expect the tip or not (e.g., if I pick up a pizza, should I tip them when I did the legwork?). I did manage to find a resource in Emily Post (, which I think is extremely helpful, but I think that only covers the most common situations.  What about somebody that helps you carry out some extremely heavy items to your car?  What about a groomer who cuts your dog’s hair?  What about a repairman that comes over and fixes a leak in our pipes?  Do you see where I’m going with this?  There are so many situations that are considered grey areas, and certainly nobody wants to exit a situation feeling embarrassed because they didn’t express their appreciation in the way that they were supposed to do.  So, what I would like to do here—hopefully—is to have you help everybody else figure out who you’re supposed to tip and how much (assuming reasonable service), and who you’re not supposed to.  And, please, if you’ve ever worked in a place where you were supposed to be tipped but weren’t, please let us know. 

If you have an example, please send it to and we’ll include it in this ongoing page.  Sadly, there will be no tips for helping contribute to the blog.