Monday, March 23, 2015

Slice of Life, #23

            I’m working all week at the office that I retired from a couple of years ago, replacing the person who replaced me so he can take a much-needed vacation (and going somewhere warm!). Since there are lots of nice eating places in the neighborhood, I plan to get takeout all week. (There’s usually no time to take an actual lunch hour.) But I had a bizarre experience today.
            I went to a Mexican place nearby. It has restaurant seating in the back and a takeout counter in the front. I ordered three tacos. The young man rang it up and said it would be $10.72. I gave him $21. He rummaged in his cash drawer, then walked away, and I assumed he was looking for a $10 bill. Indeed, he came back shortly and handed me the $10 bill – and that was all. I felt a little confused and went to sit down while waiting for my order.
            When it arrived, the bill clearly said: $10.72. I looked at it and then at him.
            “Didn’t you say it would be $10.72?” I asked.
            He smiled. “We don’t usually do coins.”
            What? Is the restaurant just arbitrarily deciding that a $10.72 lunch is actually going to cost me $11?
            “Well, I do,” I said.
            He went off and brought me back a quarter. Was I going to quibble over three cents? Some stores really don’t do pennies anymore. If something costs $10.96, and you pay $11, you’ll get a nickel back, and if it costs $10.93, and you pay $11, you’ll get a nickel back. Okay, I can deal with that.
            I started to leave, but stopped and told the restaurant hostess what had happened. Was this a restaurant policy? I wondered. She looked puzzled and said she didn’t know anything about it, and it didn’t sound right. And she would speak to someone about.
            As I write this up, I wonder whether the restaurant was keeping the change, or whether the takeout countermen were treating the change like an involuntary tip. There was no tip jar; while many takeout places now have such things, perhaps this restaurant forbade that. Personally, I think establishments should pay their workers a living wage and tips banned. In revolutionary Russia tipping was considered insulting, a holdover from czarist times when tips were given servants as a form of noblesse oblige. Who can say what one person can “afford” and what another can’t? A sticky question.


  1. The tip might be that unless they smarten up their act, you may well not return...
    It is good to write about the bizarre and unusual small moments that we encounter in a day. Frequently they arrive totally unexpectedly as happened in this case. Continue to be attentive.

  2. OMG I have never heard of such a thing! I do know that many young-uns can't make change. This is a sad commentary on our culture!