I always tip very well (25-30%) because I too waitressed a long time ago. In Canada, our servers are paid at least $10 / hour (minimum wage).
I also try and have a bit of a "conversation" with the server - gives me an idea of their headspace, and what's going on with them. I have found this extremely helpful.
There was one time (I don't eat out very often) a bunch of us were out for dinner and we kept seeing the waitress texting every time she was out of "tables'" reach. She was obviously distracted, and it did show in her work - taking a long time to get back, mixing up plates, etc.
I asked her, jokingly, if something was wrong with her phone as she seemed to be always on it. Suddenly, she had tears in her eyes. One of my friends put her hand on her arm, and asked her what was wrong.
Turned out her husband was texting her b/c their son had just been rushed to the children's hospital, he'd been hit by a car. She couldn't leave work b/c they needed the money. We were devastated for her, I couldn't imagine not being able to leave work.
She left our table, and while she was gone, we pooled together some money ... after a couple of trips to the ATM, we came up with $500 from all of us. Called her over, handed her to money, and told her to take the day off ... it was on us. She was beside herself, and we told her we all understood, now go talk to your boss ... and leave - be with your child and husband. We watched her leave a couple of minutes later and the manager of the restaurant came over.
Uh Oh - none of us had thought of him being out a waitress for the rest of the day. All these thoughts ran through my head, and we talked about it afterwards ... had we pissed him off?
Turns out, he had no idea what had happened to her son, so he was very thankful that we had insisted she leave, with a little financial help! Our meal that evening was free, and every time we go back there (at least once every two or three months) we get a free entree!
You would have to be the rudest, most horrible person, in order for me NOT to tip ... I've been on the other side, and I know just how rude some people can be ... it's not easy going from one table where they're hurling insults at you (because the food wasn't cooked to their liking) to another table, in a nanosecond, where you have to be smiling and act like everything's fine.
This is why I always try and find out "what's going on that day" with my server ...
Marion’s Zoo-Kyleigh, Raylan-cat, Echo-TAG,