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The time has come for the people of Utah to learn the hows and whys of gratuities, especially in restaurants. A transplanted Californian, I now work as a waiter in a Salt Lake restaurant.

We Utah servers make a whopping $2.09 to $2.13 an hour. Our paychecks cover the taxes on our wages and declared tips, and maybe gas. We servers depend on tips for survival. And so, here are some simple guidelines for those desiring to eat in a restaurant.The tipping range is 15 percent to 20 percent. (In Utah, tips seems to range from 5 percent to maybe 15 percent.) Depending on how well you enjoyed your meal, you should tip between 15 percent and 20 percent. If the service wasn't that great, tip 15 percent and tell the server what was wrong. If your stay at the restaurant was exceptionally marred by bad service, cold food, etc., then talk to the manager. More often than not, your meal will be comped.

When choosing a restaurant, you should figure in the 15 percent to 20 percent gratuity so you don't go to a place that might be over your budget. And it doesn't matter if you decide to eat at La Caille or The Village Inn, the minimum range is always 15 percent to 20 percent, with higher tips certainly acceptable for extraordinary service.

If you are using coupons, gift certificates or any type of discount, tip according to the full price of the meal, not the discounted price. The discount comes from the restaurant, not the server.

The minimum tip per person (including children) is $1. A group of four people enjoying an all-you-can-eat selection can run a server ragged while incurring a check of only about $15 - a tip of even 20 percent just doesn't cut it.

Let your server know if you're on a tight schedule when he or she first greets you. Don't wait until halfway through the salad to say that you only have 10 minutes left.

Work with your server. Tell him or her what your needs are. Remember, we have our bad days also, but a kind word and the willingness to work together does wonders for us, and we in turn will make your meal an excellent experience.

D.G. Vance

Salt Lake City