I've been serving and bartending for about 6 months now. When I first started, I didn't think servers really got stiffed. I assumed most customers were fairly generous and tipped 15-20% depending on the service.
When I first got a bad tip, I was hard on myself. I thought I had done something wrong. I thought I could've done better. I've learned no matter how hard you work, not everyone is going to tip well. I've also learned a bunch of people don't realize tips are the only form of income server so get (our low hourly pay gets taxed which leaves us with less than $10 in our paychecks).
A couple weeks ago, I had a family of four with a $138 bill. I did everything they asked, made sure they had everything they needed, and took care of them to the best of my ability.
They left no tip.
About a week later, I had another family sit down in my section. Of course, I treated them the same as the other family. I was just as polite, friendly, and helpful as I could be. Their bill was about $130-$140.
They left me a $200 tip and told the manager how great of a time they had and how much they enjoyed the service provided.
Before I could thank them, they were already out of the building.
I remember looking at the receipt stunned because I really didn't know how to react. At first I thought I was being tricked, but the individual intentionally wrote $200 as the tip.
Of course, these are two extreme examples, but the over-tipper made up for every bad tip I had received in the past. It made up for that.
For those of you who even tip 20-30%, thank you.
You, too, are making up for those who don't tip and give servers the money they were lacking. We appreciate your kind gesture, and I promise your generosity does not go unnoticed.