Tipping, always a lively topic (read all about it here).

Me? In a full-service restaurant, I tip 20 percent, minimum, and go up to 25 percent if the service exceeded expectations. As for tip jars, I usually -- but not always -- toss in a small gratuity. At Punch Neapolitan Pizza, for example, it's a dollar or two; at Starbucks, it might be the leftover change from my purchase. I budget tipping as part of the cost of dining out. 

All diners have tipping tales, and here's one of mine, from long ago. My friends and I left a downtown Minneapolis restaurant and were out on the sidewalk saying goodbye to one another when our server approached us. "May I ask a question?" she said, timidly. "Sure," said one of my friends. "Was there something about my service that you didn't like?" I was flabbergasted, as she had been a terrific server: Smart, conversational, funny, attentive, observant and hospitable, exactly what a diner hopes to encounter, and I told her as much. "Then why did you leave me a four-percent tip?" she said. 

Huh? I thought I'd left something in the range of 23 percent. Wrong. Turns out I'd miscalculated, probably because I was talking and laughing with my friends rather than taking a few moments to concentrate on the very serious matter of correctly computing the tip. It was a mortifying way to chalk up a learned-the-hard-way lesson.

We all quickly pulled cash out of our pockets and rectified the situation. Heck, we probably overtipped, to compensate for our embarrassment. When she returned inside, a lively discussion ensued: Should she have approached us, or kept quiet?

I voted for the former -- she rightly assumed that we had been pleased with her service, and I felt it was not out of bounds for her to ask why our paltry tip didn't reflect that  -- but several pals disagreed. What do you think?