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How Much Is Too Much To Tip?

Posted by Peter Post August 27, 2013 07:00 AM

What percentage do you think is reasonable for tipping at a restaurant?

15%? 20%? 25%?

How about 2336%? That’s right: two thousand three hundred thirty six percent.

That’s what a $5,000 tip amounts to on a $214 bill. And that, according to a story on the Huffington Post, is what the lucky bartender(s) at Brewskis Bar in Ogden, Utah enjoyed a few days ago. The big tipper didn’t stop there either. He went on to another bar, ran up a $49 tab and left a $1,000 tip. Maybe he was feeling a little less generous because that tip only amounted to 2040%.

In a similar incident in May, The New York Daily News reported that a waiter received a $5,000 tip from a couple who wishes to remain anonymous. He works tables at Rice Village restaurant in Texas. A couple he had served for years knew he needed a car—it turns out his car had been totaled during a bad storm in Houston. Interestingly, while he appreciated the gift the couple gave him in the form of a tip, “To me, it would be more of a gift if it was a loan.”

Now, I’m not suggesting we start tipping the way these people did. Their tips were acts of kindness and generosity that transcended the traditional tip. But in today’s world just how much is a traditional tip? For a long time tipping advisors suggested 15%. But, frankly, the math was complicated for many people: figure ten percent of the bill, divide that in half and add it to the ten percent to get the fifteen percent tip.

Most everyone I speak to about tipping says they now tip twenty percent. “Why?” I’ll ask. The answer is, “It’s easier.” Simply double the bill and whack off the right most number. For instance, the tip on that $214 bill is easily figured: 214 doubled equals 428, so the twenty percent tip is $42 or you could round up to $43.

Monarchy on the Mend: Prince Charles and His Suit Patch

Posted by Peter Post August 20, 2013 07:00 AM


The patch can be seen on the bottom left of Prince Charles' suit jacket. Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince Charles has a patch. On his suit. And he’s even worn the suit, with the patch, seven times, at least according to The Telegraph. Photos, dates, places—they’re all there for a Web surfer to see.

It all started on July 3 when Prince Charles visited BBC Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff. I can easily see how this happened: On the way to the event, a snag leads to a tear and a quick fix is accomplished.

But then on July 12, the suit appeared in public for a second time at the Big Connect event in Islington. And then the sightings continued throughout July: July 22, July 23, July 28, July 29.

One might wonder if the Prince has only the one suit. Or maybe it’s a favorite suit. Or maybe he’s showing a thrifty side of the royal family.

Regardless, the question is, is it okay to wear clothing that has been patched? Certainly, it has been acceptable for men to wear sports jackets or blazers with patches on the elbow. After all, why toss a perfectly good jacket if the only wear and tear is on the elbows, where wear and tear happen first?

What are the guidelines for wearing clothing that’s been patched?

First, the patch should be unobtrusive. It took me a couple of minutes and looking at several pictures to be sure that the spot on Prince Charles’ jacket was in fact a patch and not just some wrinkles.

Second, you should take care as to what event you would wear the patched clothing. A job interview: probably not. Dinner with friends: okay. A visit to a flower show: works for me, and clearly it worked for Prince Charles. Where your goal is to look nice and have a good time at a casual event: great. But if your goal is to truly impress and the outcome really matters: consider something else.

Regardless of patch or not, more important is that the clothes be clean, odor free, stain free, and fit well.

Bravo Charles. He likes his suit; the patch is unobtrusive and he’s displaying a kind of thrifty attitude, which I think reflects well on the monarchy.

What do you think? Patches okay or not okay? For Prince Charles? For you?

Getting Permission and Posting Photos Online

Posted by Peter Post August 13, 2013 07:00 AM

I often counsel people to be especially careful about what they post online as it reflects on themselves. Post a picture of you over-enjoying beers at a beach party and it may have a negative impact on you when you seek a job.

Or if a friend posts the picture and you object, what can you do about it? Untag yourself from the photo, sure; but can you remove the photo? No, the only way to get it removed is to ask the person who posted it to remove it.

All these possibilities lead to one over-riding rule for posting photos online, especially photos of other people, double especially for photos of children. When you take the photos, let the people know you’d like to post them, and ask their permission, or ask the permission of the child’s parents. (The easiest time to do this is right when you take the photo.) You could save a friendship.

But what about photos you’ve posted? Is a photo you post on an Internet social media site fair game for anyone to copy and use; is it in the “public domain?”

Chelsea Chaney, was a high school senior at Starr's Mill High School in Fayetteville, Georgia when a photo she posted of herself in a red bikini appeared in a slide show her school prepared and presented titled, “Internet Safety.”

ABC News, along with other news media, reported that Chelsea was suing her school district for $2,000,000 for having used the photo without her permission.

But, you say, she posted it online. Doesn’t that make it in the public domain and usable by anyone? Certainly, Chelsea doesn’t think so. And neither does her lawyer: "The photo was used without Chelsea's permission, and it was chosen because she is a very attractive girl who was in a bikini, something that can be easily twisted and used as an example of how one humiliates themselves on the Internet," said Pete Wellborn, Chaney's attorney.

In an article on the Texas Center for Community Journalism website Chip Stewart, Assistant Professor at TCU Schieffer School of Journalism, explains that a photo you shoot and put up on the Internet is protected by copyright. “Why shouldn't the person who took that photo be entitled to the same kind of protection that, say, a professional photographer should if somebody used his or her work without paying for it?” And, Stewart goes on to point out, “People who feel hurt will find ways to hurt you back, and they have all the legal rights they need if you violate their copyright by reposting a photo. So don't do it.”

If you do want to post or repost a photo someone else has taken, your best bet is to contact the photographer and ask permission. And get the permission writing. Otherwise don’t post it. Legalities aside, it’s the polite thing to do.

About the author

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. The column is distributed by The New York Times More »

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