I never knew the importance of tipping until I became a waitress myself.

Most people you ask will probably tell you that they tip the usual twenty percent unless the service is absolutely terrible. I used to be the same way.

Now, I tip twenty percent if the service is terrible, thirty percent if the service is good and fifty percent if the service is great.

I started doing that after I had the worst experience of my life during the time that I worked as a server.

About two years ago, I got a full-time job as a server for a small, family-owned restaurant. I had basic waitressing duties, but my job description was technically "barista," so I got actual paychecks as well as electronic and cash tips.

I averaged about $100 in electronic tips each pay period, and customers were constantly telling my bosses how good I was at my job.

However, during the time that I worked there, I experienced the biggest hardship of my life that greatly affected my work. I was emotionally unstable, distracted and unable to concentrate on anything or anyone.

I was physically there, but that was about it.

My energy was low, my "customer service smile" went from real to fake, I made so many mistakes because I was distracted, etc. This reflected in my tips. I was only getting $20-40 each pay period rather than my usual $100.

People don't understand how hard it is to fake a smile when you feel like you're dying. Certain things that used to be super easy turned into energy-sucking chores, such as answering the phone or writing a note.

All I wanted was for someone to understand or ask if I was okay. I wish people didn't see human beings and employees as mutually exclusive concepts.

I was lucky enough that I got actual paychecks, so this decrease in tips didn't affect me. But what if it had?

When you go out to eat at a restaurant, your servers live off of tips only. If you don't leave a tip, then they basically just worked for free.

I'm not saying you should excuse poor service; I know just how frustrating it can be. However, try putting yourself in their shoes.

You don't know what's goes on behind the scenes. You don't know what they have to deal with both in and out of the workplace.

You don't know if the restaurant is understaffed, if the server has 10 billion other things or people to take care of, if they're new, or if they're going through a hard time.

We as employees do the best we can do because our ability to provide for ourselves depends on it. However, that doesn't change the fact that life just happens and there's nothing we can do about it.

Nowadays, I leave at least twenty percent if the service is horrible, if not more. I don't know their story, and they're under no obligation to explain themselves.

Nobody gave me the benefit of the doubt, so I do for others what I wanted done for me.

Sometimes having someone that says, "I've got your back" can be the one thing that keeps them going when they're ready to give up.