Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Guy From Belgium

I had a guy come into the bar recently. Each round of drinks that he ordered, he paid the exact amount for the drinks, stiffing me on the tip each time. On the second round, he even paid me using real change, I'm talking about quarters here folks. After I noticed the constant absence of a tip on each of the rounds of drinks this fella ordered and remembering that he had a slight accent in his tone, I asked him which country he was from. He said Belgium. Hmmmm....

So I did a little research of my own on the tipping practices in Belgium. Turns out:

Tipping in Belgium is not obligatory as service charge is always included. However, people often give tips as a sign of appreciation. Usually, this is done by paying in bank notes with a total value slightly higher than the price of the meal and telling the waiter/waitress that they can keep the change.

So either he thought that my tip was included in the price of his drink or he knew better and just was being a douche. I would like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but he did it all night long, paid with change and was only ordering our drink special, minus the ice. Trust me, he got more mixer than alcohol.

Red flags all around.


Anonymous said...

The tipping situation in Australia is like that too. I find that people only do it if they're nice, as a thankyou for good service or if they have a crush on the bartender :P Hence why I get excited whenever someone tips me!

But then again, a lot of Aussies know that tipping is part of the service culture in the US. I guess your Belgian friend hadn't heard the news...

Ciaran said...

Be a little forgiving, as it's hard to know what the tipping culture is and easy to unknowingly screw it up. I've been living in the US four years now and still mess it up with not knowing who is expecting a tip (the one I always forget is hotel chambermaids).

I think in some asian cultures it is even offensive to offer a tip. In the UK (not sure about the rest of europe) where bar tipping is not usual (but restaurant tipping is) some bars have started putting your change on a little tray, strongly suggesting that you leave it there as a tip - of course these tend to be the crappy bars that charge you the equivalent of $8 just to open a corona.

I'd be curious to hear your opinions on tipping versus paying higher wages. Non-americans tend to see the tip as just that - a tip. Not an integral part of the staff's pay.

Sam said...

As a bartender in the City, I'm done giving Europeans the benefit of the doubt.

Are we supposed to believe that no one in Europe knows that tipping is part of going out in America? Do we never hear the end of the "ugly American"? No matter how much Americans try to fit in when they go overseas, no one ever gives Old-Worlders shit for travelling to America knowing nothing of our day-to-day cultural norms.

Kathleen I can't tell you how many times (including yesterday) that Euros empty out their pockets to pay me in nickels and dimes for a 2.75 beer. However, I've also discovered that if you just include a tip in the price they will pay it without question. Without question. Just the cultural divide we're talking long as the little piece of paper says pay this --- they do it.

Tchekitchek said...

I am from Belgium and we *don't* tip here, it is just not part of the culture. When someone does, it is a luxury.