I love this story! A Philadelphia-area couple were arrested and charged with "theft of services" because they refused to pay an 18% gratuity. Gratuity, what is in a word? When does a word lose its plain English meaning?
As an undergraduate at Our State College (circa 1975-79) I worked part time in the Univeersity's large Banquets and Catering operation. I was a recent former, but very young, US Army NCO I quickly became the college catering operation "head waiter." We "wait staff" (we weren't called "servers," in that era) were actually trained by professionals from the "hospitality" industry who ran this program. There were such lessons as how to set the table, fold and place linens, china, glasses; how to serve a dish, where the entree` should be relative to the diner; how to pour beverages, wine and so forth. None of this was terribly difficult, but it did give me a sense that service of this sort was somewhat more involved than coming to the tableside with a tray of meals and demanding that the customer recite for a second time what they ordered before a hot dish is passed to them like so much cafeteria hash. Nor would I ever expect my diners to be required to "bus" the dishes and silverware afterwards while they sat digesting the meal I just served them. The world has changed.
Dining out, like air travel, and many other formerly special experiences has been reduced to a very hit or miss experience. We all have our war stories; I have hundreds--from the waitress who threw a tantrum and quit her job in the middle of my order (without the restaurant telling me), to the food with unsavory, mmmmmmm, shall we say "unexpected additions."
But as to tipping, I've always tipped generously, skewing towards 20% and more for extraordinary service (which is rare.) I tip at tip jars at the local 'bucks without hesitation. I figure, servers work hard, and are often expected to tip-out other kids working hard, why screw them because no one bothered to train them in the service protocols I learned. And in a way I get the service I've reluctantly learned to expect. There have been rare occasions where service bordered on anti-service and I have left nothing--guess, I need to remember that this sort of protest can result in ridiculous criminal charges at least in the City of Brotherly Love.