Saturday, December 10


Welcome to my blog! My name is Mathilde, I live in the United States, in Boston, since 2012. I have a company of guided tours in French of the city in which I share the history of the region, but also the habits and customs in the American. To find out more about me if it’s the first time around here, start with this page. 

No, don’t try to escape it because “it’s-already-quite-expensive-like-that-with-the-taxes-and-everything”… you have to leave tips in the United States.

Over the past few months, we have become completely used to this practice, to the point of not paying too much attention to it… except in certain cases: hairdresser, taxi driver or pizza delivery boy… Are we kicking * or are we kicking?

* We say Tipper because tipping in English says “tip” and we don’t like speaking French.


Manual. The prices indicated on the menu are not all-inclusive, remember to add the tip. At the end of the meal, no time to dawdle at the table: in most restaurants, barely having the forks rested, a waiter comes quickly to get rid of everything and brings the bill in stride, while telling us to take our time. We generally pay by card, which we slip into a pocket with the note. The server takes everything and returns with a receipt on which we write the amount of the tip. If we pay in cash, we leave the tickets in the wallet and tell the server how much we want to leave.

How much to tip? Between 15 and 20%. I leave almost 20% almost all the time, without asking myself too many questions. If you can afford to go to a restaurant, you accept the rules and pay a tip. If the service is catastrophic and you want to be unfriendly (which has never happened to us), you should leave $ 1 (otherwise you might think you just forgot to tip). Expect to be caught by the server and the manager to justify yourself.

Do not try to judge the big judge, or find that the waiter smiles at you too “just for his tip”, it’s just bad spirit on your part.

Subtleties: do we drink at the coffee shop or fast-food? We follow the following precept: we type when a waiter brings us something at the table. If it’s just counter service, you can still leave some change – 1 or 2 dollars – in the “tip jar”, ​​a jar on the counter.

Why do we have to tip the servers? We lived in Paris before Boston, and the service was indeed generally grumpy but efficient and discreet. The difference was obvious when arriving here: the waiters are very present, smiling, helpful, pleasant – in other words, sticky.

In general, a welcoming hostess welcomes us and places us at the table.

Then, a first waiter comes to serve us water (with ice cubes). This server will only be responsible for serving the water (as soon as the glass is almost empty) and clearing the table (when the plate is barely finished). The official server then arrives, sometimes he introduces himself by saying his first name. After taking the order, he will come back several times during the meal to ask if all is well. Accustomed to this – although still a little tense, I now respond with a vivid: Great! – no matter what I think about it. It even happens that the waiter folds the napkin if it has been rolled into a ball on the table. All of this leads to a good tip, especially since the servers are extremely poorly paid, in Boston where I live $ 3.75 / hour. Tipping in good restaurants often represents an attractive salary, but it comes at the cost of very hard work.

But… the idea is not so much to judge the quality of the service according to its criteria, or to take the poorly paid servers in pity: in short, we pay a tip without asking too many questions or pretending to be a judge of “In Search of the New Server Special Star”.

If I believe the comments, some like to play the big judge or have things to say about this system: do not forget that you are in another country with other ways of doing things.

How it works in practice: 

The meal just finished, the waiter or waitress brings the bill. You swipe your credit card or your tickets in the booklet or the paper clip attached to the bill, the waiter takes everything and returns 2 minutes later with


The hairdresser or the beautician. When I went to the hairdresser in France, there were always rather old regulars, who before leaving, slipped a coin into the shampooer’s hand with a knowing look.

Here, we also type at the hairdresser, but more than a simple piece. When paying, you leave a ticket – or you type on the receipt if you pay by card.

After a survey of our friends, opinions differ on the amount of the tip for the hairdresser: the strictest only leave 10%, while another friend recommended us to tip well (between 20 and 25%) if we are considering become a regular customer: “Even if the service was not brilliant, we will remember you at the hairdresser and if you tip little, you will be considered a lousy tipper “.

The taxi driver. The service is quite nice when it comes to loading and unloading suitcases, but the taxi driver is the guilt pro if we leave him a tip via the credit card. We often get yelled at for not tipping in cash – always between 15 and 25%. But locals tell us that you shouldn’t tip the taxi too much – 10% max, if at all. So there it is, as you feel. Uber and Lyft decomplex the payment because everything is done over the phone. Assessment the nice guy is tipped but less than the taxi…

The “valet” in front of a restaurant or a hotel. It only happened to us once in Las Vegas to leave the car with a valet, then slipping him 2-3 dollars, from hand to hand. You also have to tip the “valet” who puts your bag in the hotel room, and the cleaning lady has an envelope provided for this purpose in most rooms. Plan for small cuts!

Pizza/sushi deliverers. As for the servers, and especially on rainy evenings when the poor delivery man arrives while dripping – we always leave roughly 20% – except when the service is included.

At the petrol station. It’s rare, but it has happened that people come to fill us up. As the guys at the gas stations are potential serial killers (of course), we are tapping 2-3 dollars.

At the supermarket. Big surprise when arriving: there is an attendant at the end of the checkout carpet who packs the groceries. It is often rather well done: double sachet for strengthening the bottom, sorting of products by types. But there, the rule says not to tip. Weird because it’s one of my favourite services…


The servers know Europeans and Asians who are considered bad tippers and can be reluctantly served … In the most touristy places, in Florida for example, service for foreigners will be included from the start, to avoid unpleasant surprises at the restaurant. We are already seen as kings of cheating and dubbing in the queues – cheerfully cheering!