I like most, don’t pay cash when dining out. Tonight I had a $100.00 bill clawing to get out of my wallet, probably from sheer lack of companionship, and so I paid for my meal with the endangered greenback.
My change was returned inside the secretive black fold as though a credit card had been tendered. I counted the cloaked change. Practical, not frugal (although my Lithuanian side makes almost compulsive) and I was short $20.00.
Dilemma: No witness, no secure statement that I was short instead of pilfering when called to the waitress’ attention. I objected nevertheless and was immediately challenged, “I counted it before I gave it to you,” she said.
And I said, “I counted it before I gave it back to you,” with the most unnecessary overcompensating and stringent look I could muster, “and it’s twenty-dollars short.” I left her with the billfold and returned to my seat.
A few moments later she returned and said, “I told you I counted it sir. Your bill was eighteen dollars. Eighteen and one-two is twenty, sixty one-hundred.”
I said, “You missed forty.”
She counted again and missed forty again. So I counted for her, “Eighteen and one-two is twenty, FORTY, sixty, eighty,” stopping to help her understand that when you skip a twenty you are, even the most friendly of nations, robbing your customer. She got it. I didn’t. I still tipped as though there had been no unpleasantness. Habit.