Tipping Adventures: When 20% Just Isn’t Enough


We’ve all heard suggestions as to how to calculate a proper tip based upon the amount of the bill. There are an infinite amount of opinions, and each person has to figure out where they want to fall on that spectrum. But what if even a generous percentage based tip seems inappropriate? What would you say if I told you I left nearly a 40% tip for a service rendered? That’s what we’re going to explore in today’s edition of my tipping adventures.

My wife had a hardened type of nail polish called shellac applied to her nails a few weeks ago. After shellac has been on your nails for awhile, It begins to weaken the nails, so she was ready to have it removed, and a fresh coat of regular nail polish put on. I dropped her off at the nail salon, and ran a few errands. When I returned, she asked if I would pay as her nails were still drying.

The employee at the front counter stated my wife’s bill was $26. I was a little stunned as she had been there for about an hour. I opened my wallet and started doing a calculation as to how much of a tip to leave. My wife had expressed she was happy with how her nails turned out, so I was aiming to leave a tip around 20%, or $5. A $5 tip for an hour of work didn’t seem like enough. I handed the the employee a $10 and asked her to give it to the nail technician.

I left a 40% tip for my wife’s trip to the nail salon.

Increasing the tip amount felt like the right thing to do for the following reasons:

  • The total bill amount was low, even though the time spent helping my wife was significant
  • My wife estimates that out of the hour time in the salon, the technician was working with her exclusively for 45 minutes

There wasn’t any real science in how I determined the amount of tip I left. I calculated my usual 20% tip for good service, and then simply doubled it. I’m more than happy to tip well for a job well done, and by wife’s admission, on that day the technician did a great job.

“Have a nice day, sir!” said a voice as we walked towards the door.

“How much did you tip her?” my wife asked me, surprised at the technician’s response to the tip.

When I admitted what I had done, my wife smiled and said, “Oh, that’s why she was so nice to you!”

This was the first time I had ever experienced such a situation, but it felt like the right thing to do. While suggestions for tipping are easy to find, I’ve never come across a discussion for a situation like this. What do you think, Clever Friends? Have you ever been in a situation where your usual percentage based tip didn’t seem enough?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • On occasion I’ve given a gratuity that smashes through standards. Back before it doubled to 20% I left $20 on a $10 lunch. It’s absurd, but it was a local restaurant, the food was amazing (after a slight goof that was fixed promptly), and she was very nice without being annoying.

    Sure, it was two more lunches rather than a few bucks, but great service needs to be rewarded.

  • For haircuts that usually end up costing less than $15 I round up to $20
    if they have done a good job, it is worth it. And they are happy to see me when I come back!
    Also for really good service at a restaurant I usually add another $5 on top of the normal (or more)
    I have worked service industry back in college days and it is rough. Those who do it so well with a smile on their faces deserve that extra!

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