Tag Archives: Deutsche Welle

Waiting for a tip

A few years ago, Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international broadcaster for those of you who don’t know) launched a culture column called “Scene in Berlin”. It doesn’t so much report on events, as on cultural and indeed regional phenomena, and has sometimes served as a perfect platform contributors like myself to “talk” about the idiosyncrasies of life in this city.

I was recently asked to do a piece about how Berliners tip – a sentence that would, it seems, have many in the service industry here, rolling their eyes in exasperation… Here is how it goes:

Berliners go down as being too tight to tip

There’s nothing unusual about being thrifty in January. But if Berlin’s service industries are to be believed, there’s also nothing unusual about the proverbial belt staying tightly buckled for the rest of the year.

“Ten-percent tips are illusionary in this city,” a waiter at my local cafĂ© told me recently. “If you want that kind of money, you have to get a job in Munich or Hamburg.”

The conversation started when I was waiting for a coffee “to-go,” as they say around here, the price of which I noticed had gone up from 2.80 to 3.00 euros (about $4.00).

I always used to round up to three anyway, but since the new price removed the scope to do so, I wasn’t sure how much to give. I could have gone up to four – although a euro tip seemed like a lot for a takeout drink – or I could do the Berlin thing and tack a small and random amount onto the price, thereby creating a wholly unrounded sum. Read on.


Category: Berlin, Writing | Tags: , ,