Dear Annie: I'm hoping you can settle a little disagreement between my 16-year-old daughter and me. The two of us live together in a modest home, which I am proud of. It is nothing special, but I work hard to keep it neat and organized.
When we have company, I am very welcoming and ask our guests whether they would like to see our home, from top to bottom. No one has ever refused, and people seem to enjoy looking at the architecture and decor. They usually make positive comments and sometimes offer suggestions. I feel it gives them a glimpse into our hearts and souls, the space in which we live. My daughter feels it is bragging and unnecessary. She says, "No one else does this." Could I please have your thoughts on this matter? -- To Tour or Not to Tour
Dear To Tour or Not to Tour: What's the harm in a house tour? A walk-through familiarizes guests with the space, which makes them feel more welcome. I think it's lovely you so appreciate your home. Too many of us take the roofs over our heads for granted. Perhaps your daughter will understand once she has a house of her own. In any case, she'll have to grin and bear the tours while she's living in yours.
Dear Annie: You told "Too Much or Not Enough?" that it is "socially permissible not to tip" for takeout food. I thought the same thing until my daughter took a job working at a local restaurant that offered takeout. She was paid $5 an hour, the same as servers who were waiting tables, but she only took the takeout orders. Most customers don't realize this. Some days she would work several hours and not even get up to minimum wage with her tips. -- Lara in St. Johns, Fla.
Dear Lara in St. Johns: If your letter gave me pause about advising people that they don't have to tip for takeout, the following letter brought me to a full stop. Read on.
Dear Annie: Being a restaurant server and frequently working in car-side/carryout, I take exception to your advice to "Too Much or Not Enough?" about tipping for takeout meals.
Where I work in central Florida, our hourly rate is between $5 and $6. Folks should be tipping 10 percent as a standard. And if the employee is friendly, timely, accurate and accommodating of extra requests, that percentage should go up accordingly, just as if one were dining in.
These people work hard. Your order doesn't just mysteriously appear in the bag. There's a lot of footwork involved. There's the phone call, the car-side area, kitchen area, expediting area, going outside (in all kinds of weather, I might add), etc. That employee is running all over the restaurant getting that order together. He or she is dependent on those tips to supplement a low hourly wage. And if something is incorrect, those same non-tipping folks are on the telephone in a heartbeat, irate. Isn't it better to award excellent service (and make someone's day) rather than hurt someone's income and feelings, leaving the person to wonder what he or she did wrong not to get a tip? -- Working for Tips
Dear Working for Tips: When writing my answer to "Too Much or Not Enough?" I took into account polls and articles by etiquette experts and economists. But I did not take into account the opinions of real people working in the restaurant industry. After reading several responses like yours, I realize what a mistake that was. Not tipping for takeout might be common, but that doesn't make it fair or right. So I'm amending my stance: Tip 10 percent on takeout orders. And it's always better to err on the side of generosity.