Ever read this article on Waiter Rant: What the waiter saw? It talks about the custom of tipping in the great, stupid US of A. It seems that waiters (or servers, whatever the fuck that be) are paid less than the minimum wage and are expected to earn from tips. Is that stupid or what? The land of milk and honey and opportunity is (surprise, surprise!) also the land of exploitation. The restaurant owner probably laughs all the way to the bank, while the waiters rave and rant about not getting enough tips.
If it weren’t so stupid it would be laughable. I can't imagine people paying extra for any kind of goods that they buy in a shop, but people are falling over themselves trying to pay extra for basic service in the US. There are websites devoted to how tips should be calculated, what is the correct amount of tip for various services, there are small sheets you can print and carry in your wallet to look up the exact tip (on the pre-tax amout, mind you) if you cant do your basic arithmatic. There are programs that can be downloaded/bought for your PocketPC / Palm / what-have-you which will calculate the exact tip and even split it between the number of people in your group... al so that you never need to use your rusty brain. There are websites which give you the wonderful advice on how to calculate the tip: just double the first number people! $50 bill = $10 tip etc.
There are books writing on tipping etiquette and books written for waiters and such to do certain things to get more tips and finally books written for people to get more done without paying tips. Whew. What a stupid, vicious cycle.
PS: I comment on the Waiter Rant article using the pseudonym "Fucking Stupid". Apt name you say? Yah yah and all that.