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Do you leave a sympathy tip when someone in your party is rude?

We often find ourselves dining out with a family member who is embarrassingly rude to the waitstaff. Consequently, we leave a larger than normal tip when this happens. I also try to give a sympathetic nod or say something gracious to the server, whenever it is possible without exacerbating things.

If you are in a similar situation (a badly-behaved child, an unusual mess, etc.), do you leave a sympathy tip? If so, what percentage above your normal tip? Not that you can ever compensate for unkindness, but since money is the only way I can make up for this family member's behavior, that is the means I use.

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  1. If I think that our table has been more trouble than it's worth, yes, I tip more. Probably about 10% more, depending. I don't think of it as sympathy so much as hazard pay. Some of my dining companions can get a little over-exuberant, and quite frankly, I'd like it if they would compensate *me* for putting up with them. But that's probably too much to ask.

    1 Reply
    1. re: small h

      Hazard pay, I like that. But honestly, I don't think any waitperson can be compensated enough for putting up with my, um, family member. If they wanted a job like that, they'd be serving in the military or as a firefighter. They battle fire-breathing dragons, right?

    2. Oh, so you've met my mother?

      Yes, I do add more, unless the waiter/waitress responded in kind. The amount depends on how much of a pain/bitch she's been. Usually another 10%. I once walked over to the waitress, handed her a $20, and thanked her for being so patient.

      1. Heck yes. What small h said. Heh. Hazard pay. Maybe even more than an extra ten percent depending on how great the hazard.

        2 Replies
        1. re: givemecarbs

          Dang, this is gonna get expensive if we keep having to dine out with her! When we must include her (about once a week) we are trying to do more family dinners at home, but sometimes I get tired of having to leave out all the ingredients she says she can't eat.

          1. re: Isolda

            I responded below, but if you can't or don't want to tip a larger amount, be sure to take the time to speak to the manager on the way out and compliment the server if they were able to deal with your crazy family member in a gracious way.

        2. Honestly, it depends on whether I feel responsible for the person who is acting boorishly. Large mixed groups where I was not the one who organized or invited - I'm just tipping for me and operating under the "shit happens" school of logic. If I invited people to a place I like and frequent and one of them behaves badly, then yeah I tip more, especially if I'm already friendly with the servers. Don't have any kids yet.

          Story time - I once met up for dinner with a high school friend a few years after high school. She was always a bit of a drama queen, but now she was way over the top and she gave the poor waiter a hellish time keeping her happy. When the check came (we went dutch, paid cash), she laid out her money on the table, complete with an under-sized tip. I paid after her, and feeling bad for the waiter, I left a very generous tip to make up for her slight. As we were getting our coats on to leave, I noticed that she saw the large tip I left, frowned, and pocketed 2 of the 3 measly singles she had already left. I very nearly flipped out right then and there. We don't hang out anymore.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cowboyardee

            Yeah, that's where my sympathy lies, with the server, even when I'm not hosting or responsible for the other person's bad behavior. This is an adult, who really does know better, or should, but I still feel really bad and embarrassed for anyone who has to put up with her crap.

            Years ago, the summer after I graduated from college, I worked as a waitress at a very nice Vermont resort. For about four days, I kept having to wait on this rude drunk man. He pulled every stunt you can imagine, ordering "well-oiled virgins" with his eggs at breakfast, groping people, leaving lousy tips, etc. Although I didn't think any amount of money would have compensated for dealing with this perv, my story would have had a much nicer ending if one of his dining companions had just paid a little extra.

          2. I don't think you're my sister. :P Whenver my mother was in a restaurant on one of her alcoholic nasty binges, yes, I would always tip more, as she lurched away from the table.