I grew up in England, where the fast food was neither fast nor food, and the idea of tipping was “if the service justified something extra, then it was at your discretion”. I’ve always been wary of those places that consider automatically adding my gratuity to the bill, how do they know in advance how greatful I’ll be for the service?
So England was fairly simple as far as tipping was cocnerned in my childhood. If the barman chatted knowledgeably with tales of the local area then you offer to buy him a drink, the proverbial “and one for yourself”. If a waitress in a restaurant offered good advice about which main course to order, and selected an excellent bottle of wine to go with it then again a few extra notes would slip under the salt when we left. Unfortunately America is not this simple, and even after five years of living here I find I still have problems with “that tipping thing”.
The BBC’s From Our Own Correspondant sums up the problem absolutely brilliantly here: The Mechanics of Tipping US Style
If you enjoy reading the link, leave a couple of dollars under the keyboard!