What I meant was that I often hear friends or posters in other tipping threads state that they only get $2-3/hour from their employer, but they neglect to mention that they also get around $10-15/hour in tips. So in reality, it seems common that even waiters at low-end restaurants ultimately take home a sum that averages to around $10-15/hour. When I hear that someone "makes $X/hour," I take that to mean that the total income brought home by someone averages out to $X/hour. Common sense dictates that if it were common that waiters only brought home $2-3/hour (or ~$80-90/week), then it would be outright impossible for the number of self-supporting waiters to be what it is (indeed, as I somewhat jealously noted, all my waiter friends were making much more than I did at my standard office internship jobs). And this doesn't even include the fact that federal laws mandate that a waiter must take home minimum wage no matter what; so it would be illegal for a waiter to take home <$5.15/hour. I'm not trying to be accusatory or anything, but it seems dishonest that so many waiters seem to be claiming that it is even possible for them to take home less than the minimum wage. I realize I may be missing some subtleties of how the industry works, but according to what the law says, the $2.13/hour point does not hold. Only if the overall sum of your earnings (tips and all) averages $3.30/hour is it accurate to claim that you make $3.30/hour. Somehow I think you take home more than that. And I don't mean to sound insulting when I call waiting a menial job. I know waiting requires certain innate skills that not everyone has (e.g. keeping your cool in a frenetic environment), but at the same time there are no artificial barriers to entry: you do not need to be of a certain age, pass an exam, have extensive technical experience, or display highly developed talent to wait tables. That does not reduce the difficulty of the job per se, but it is hard to maintain the stance that the number of people who can qualify for a waitstaff job and perform it competently is so limited that it warrants payment above and beyond its market value. Theoretically anyone off the street could come in and be qualified to wait tables at an average restaurant; and theoretically anyone off the street could be trained to become a competent waiter with minimal effort. Again, I'm sure the job is difficult and demanding, and I respect the efforts of the people who do it, but waiting is not highly skilled or specialized job. In honesty, it's just another retail job: the real task at hand is the stress of dealing with customers and keeping one's cool. What baffles me is that while waiting tables is much more lucrative than a generic cashier or shelf stacking job, waiters still complain vociferiously about their compensation. I would much rather wait tables at Chili's than work the floor at Best Buy, for example, because I would be making more money for doing a similar job. About the tipping standard debate: I confess that, as a college guy, I don't get the chance to dine out at super high-end restaurants on a regular basis. I do, however, read a lot of forums and periodicals on the subject of food and dining, and I find that the only people who make a big deal of claiming that 15% is not a perfectly fine tip are either connected to the industry or so rich that it doesn't really matter to them. As J said, the whole point of tipping is to give the decision to the customer, and not to expect them to intuitively know some arbitrary standard set by the waiter and lash out at them if they don't know it. As I mentioned earlier, it is really bothersome to see that the stereotypical reflex of a waiter to a less than satisfactory tip is to assume the customer is a cheap asshole who is completely in the wrong. I think coping with the reality of the way tipping works is another of those innate, unquantifiable skills that is necessary in a waiter but not present in everyone. Horace: I see what you're getting at, and my own response would be that the tone of this thread has a lot to do with the polarized nature of the debate (tipping threads are always among the most heated regardless of what sort of forum in which they appear). One thing to note is that the debate somewhat revolves around hypothetical extremes (the outright greedy and arrogant waiter vs. the outright cheap and thoughtless customer). I doubt any of the patrons here dislike waiters in general and in fact get along well with them 99% of them; likewise for the waiters in this thread. I also think that everyone in this debate realizes that both extremes are problematic; the question seems to be which extreme appears more often and is thus the source for most of the conflict. I don't see this debate or the waiter/patron relationship as antagonistic so I much as I do a confused one: the big issue lies in gathering and analyzing all the relevant information so that both parties can reach an informed conclusion that is mutually satisfying. In simpler terms, it's a matter of people understanding each other.