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Traditional Tipping

I sat down to write about Online Tipping, something that fascinates me.

But I find "Traditional Tipping" fascinating as well. The phrase "traditional tipping", alone, leads to the question:

Is tipping a tradition? And does it make sense?

There's so much to think about.

A lot of established Economists have studied and written about tipping (or gratuities). Maybe I can add something to the discussion:


Tipping a fascinating practice. Some find it annoying or futile or gratifying or "just".

It has a lot to do with value creation, delayed compensation, a de facto rating system, gifting, and sometimes even subordination. Also, maybe an element of charity or patronage or community or camaraderie?

And since so many people do work for tips, it's worth thinking about.

There are so many questions to be asked about tipping:

Why do some people and professions (waiters/bartenders/servers/valets) get tipped, and others not? How much should you tip, if at all? Why do some countries tip a lot, other tip a little, and some not tip at all? Should more people and workers get tips?

I don't have good answers to these questions.

What I did determine, though, is that there is an element of "irrationality' to tipping.

Almost everyone who has worked for tips has tried to "hack" these inefficiencies. Things like Cash Denominations, Timing, Smiley Faces on Receipts, or Strategic Eye Contact can be "hacked" and cause major swings in tips and gratuities.

Or, are those "rational" responses to how we make people feel? These small "hacks" when repeated or strategically utilized can change the tipped employee's income in major ways.

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