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Shortchanged

But then again ...

I rarely leave less than a 20 percent tip. Even if the service is completely unacceptable I will leave at least 10 percent. I know that most of the problems that occur when you are dining out are not the fault of the server. I am also aware of how little they make in wages and that tips are a big part of their income. There is nothing like good service. And the other night I got nothing like good service. And for the first time I can remember, I left almost no tip.

The long-suffering wife and I ventured to Lackawanna County for a book signing. By the way, my book “But Then Again I Could Be Wrong” is on sale at bookstores near you and Amazon.com. Shameless plug out. Dinner was courtesy of a gift card at a chain with the same name as a cartoon character. Not our first choice, but hey, free is good, right? Wrong! Our server was a chirpy, overly friendly one who called us “guys” all night. I hate that. It got worse. I ordered chicken. My wife ordered chopped steak. That’s basically a hamburger, no bun. We waited and waited and waited. No word a lie, it was a half hour before our dinners came. Chirpy waitress came by every so often and apologized, saying, “Guys, I’ll check and see what’s taking so long.” She said that three times.

Finally the long lost food arrives. My wife always asks for well done. If you know about E. coli, you know why. Her hamburg was bright red and bloody inside. This after waiting a half hour? So it was sent back. Our waitress couldn’t have been more apologetic. OK, this was not her fault, but the offer of free deserts to make up for it sounded great. I distinctly heard “free deserts” — plural. I have a good clear voice. So I am sure chirpy waitress heard me place the order for two to go. I even pointed out the two on the menu. Of course you know she only brought one, right? I am guessing she was told by someone in charge that for our “trouble” we deserved only one.

At that point, the 10-percent tip I had figured on leaving didn’t seem like it was earned. So I screwed her on the tip. I think I left her 32 cents. Do I feel good about this? On reflection, no. But up until she made an offer to make it good then shorted us I was willing to play along. Lesson learned. Free is good, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

Or then again…I could be wrong.

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