Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No tips, please

My first culinary excursion here in Costa Rica was something not very adventurous for me.

I ate at Denny's on Tuesday. It's actually not unusual to find LB eating at Denny's on Tuesdays as we sometimes take advantage of their Kids Eat Free on Tuesday promotion.

Now, I didn't exactly plan to eat at Denny's. From early in the morning, I was busy doing work and swamped with stuff and did not have a chance to eat until I got back to my hotel, and even then it wasn't for a couple of hours.

So when I had a chance to go out and eat, I did so at the closest place to me, and that was Denny's which is on the hotel grounds.

Before I came here to Costa Rica, my brother-in-law filled me in on the restaurants. He'd honeymooned here and said that local restaurants include the tip with the bill, but he hadn't realized that until midway through their trip.

Not that I didn't believe him but I wanted to see for myself, so I scanned the menu for something about that, anything that would tell (warn?) me that the tip was already in the bill. And sure enough, down on the bottom of the menu was a little not that said a 13 percent gratuity would be included in the bill.

I ordered a chicken dish I usually get and it was pretty tasty, probably more than usual because I was so hungry. I also ordered a Coca Cero to drink. When I got up to leave, the waiter handed me the bill and wished me a good evening. I walked up to pay but felt a natural urge to dig in my pockets, pull out a few bills and leave them on the table.

Of course, I didn't do that. I felt guilty. I felt like I was walking away from some sort of obligation, in this case leaving a tip. I like to leave good tips when I get good service and will leave a not-so-good tip if the service is not so good. My waiter here took care of me okay, but I didn't get the chance to show him other than by saying "Gracias" a few times.

I plan on eating in some off-the-beaten-path places when Mrs. LB and I go off the beaten path, and perhaps then I'll leave a few hundred colones as a tip. Maybe then I won't feel guilty when leaving an eatery.


Lissaloo said...

It is interesting how other countries do that, it really seems to vary.

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

EEK, I probably still would have left a tip out of habit. As someone whose family relies heavily on tip money (Mr. Tattoos has a night job as a bartender), I can't stand when people leave crappy or no tips. That's probably why they include it in Costa Rica, so no tourists can claim they don't know that you're supposed to tip.

Willoughby said...

I wonder what they do if you do leave a tip? Do they hand it back? Are they insulted? It's a good thing your BIL gave you that info.