waitressIn Lemondrop's Guide to Tipping last week, we went straight to people who work in the service industry to find out exactly how much we should be tipping for everything from drinks to valet service.

Our restaurant industry insider, Cory, said the standard tip for adequate service is 20 percent -- 25 for remarkable service, and 15 for "less than stellar."

But reader Julie demands to know: "Why do Americans always reward mediocre behavior? That's why so many Americans ARE mediocre. Step your game up people. Tipping is optional ... If you absolutely hated the server, you CAN leave them nothing. I really would rather the restaurant pay these people more (and therefore raise their prices for food), than make me 'voluntarily' tip them."

Su agrees with Julie, saying, "I definitely do NOT agree with the article when it said to go ahead and tip a minimum of 10% for poor service. I hate it that I am expected to tip everybody and their brother for everything. I make minimum wage in my job too; I wonder how well I would be received if I walked around all day with my hand out?"

Those who work in restaurants, however, defend their right to a generous tip and insist that despite appearances, they are doing their best to provide solid service -- after all, they're aware that their tip relies on their attitude.

Liza paints us a not-so-pretty picture of working the tables: "Do you see that twelve top over there with seven screaming children grinding the birthday cake into the carpet? Yeah, that's my table. Can't wait to clean that one up. Gee thanks, mommy brigade, for the $4 tip. And you see the frowning couple in the corner? Their pizza got burnt in the oven. Smiling and explaining the situation is not going to win my tip back. And the 4 boys in the football jerseys that all ordered water and biscuits? Also my table. I'll really try hard not to spend the 73 cents they leave me all in one place."

Another waitress clarifies that she makes $2.15 an hour before tipping out (or giving 3% of her sales to the host and bartender). So while other gainfully employed folk are making minimum wage, servers do their jobs for a fraction of that and rely on tips to pay the bills.

Liza might just speak for servers as a whole when she says: "If tipping is optional ... screw this job."

Tell us: What percent do you normally tip? Knowing that servers don't even get minimum wage before tips, do you think leaving 15 percent should be standard, no matter what? Or should waiters have to earn their great tips only if they provide great service?