Book Review – Keep the Change by Steve Dublanica c 2010

Dublanica talks about the history of tipping and the amount Americans should be tipping people in certain professions such as waiters, waitresses, doormen, bellhops, maids, concierges, auto mechanics, parking valets, car wash attendants, baristas, bartenders, tattoo artists, massage therapists barbers, hairstylists, beauticians, pet groomers, deliverymen, movers, casino hosts, card dealers, cocktail waitresses, shoeshine men, bathroom attendants, taxi and limousine drivers and others.

The author points out the scope of tipping and why Americans should tip well. He is pro-tipping. He was a former waiter for nine years. He has interviewed these workers to find out how to tip.


Dublanica spoke with the Survey Research Institute at the University of Illinois, the National Restaurant Association and an Israli economics professor, Dr, Ofer Axar to gather statistics about tipping in the USA. The author concluded that Americans currently pay about $66 billion a year in tips. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics web-site a little over 5 million workers receive tips which is more than 3 percent of the American workforce.

Tipping began during the Middle- Ages in Europe with the lords rewarding their subjects. American tourists traveling to Europe post Civil War brought back the custom of tipping.

Tips were used to compensate workers who performed menial jobs by the upper and growing middle-classes.

Dublanica, having been a waiter for nine years, states that the quality of service has almost nothing to do with a tip a server receives. He says that people tip to feel generous, because of guilt, to gain the waiter’s approval and to show-off.

Depending on the profession the tips usually run from $1-2 for a doorman, bellhops, $3-10 for  parking valets or attendants $2-5, hotel maids $2-5 daily, room service $2-3, concierges $20 , auto mechanics $10, car wash attendants $2-3, pizza delivery 20%, deliverymen and movers $10-20, shoe shiners $3-100, bath room attendants $1, and taxi or limousine drivers 20%.

A 20% tip at a restaurant is considered the standard.  Nowadays there are tip jars everywhere. Starbucks taxes the baristas on the tips they make at usually 50 cents an hour. Some restaurants tax a percentage of a worker’s tips. A Manhattan bartender said that a 20% tip is good.

All the workers in the beauty industry including massage therapists, barbers, hairstylists, beauticians, manicurists, pedicurists, and pet groomers get 20% tips.

Vegas dealers are paid in tips when the customers bet 1-2 dollars on something for the dealer. Also when the customer rakes in a pile when playing cards they would give the dealers a few dollars.

Often the employees of occupations that receive tips are purposely under paid so they must rely on tips to earn a living.

Dublanica relates a lot of human interest stories of people struggling financially who rely on tips as part of their wages to earn a living. He maintains that tipping is a lubricant that helps make the world run smoothly and a way to establish relationships.

Dublanica equates a lousy tipper to a person that may possibly suffer from NPD -narcissistic personality disorder. p. 268-269.

There are three appendixes at the end of the book that cover: what to tip during the holidays, what to tip whom at a wedding and how to begin a conversation about tipping and race.

This book reads quickly - no technical jargon here. The author talks to the audience mostly in 3rd person. Some of the related stories the reader may find humorous or distasteful depending on their point of view. I would recommend this book for those interested in the custom of tipping and to learn about its current use and influence upon its recipients. - MA