One of the conversations that I eventually plan on having with my children is about how to determine what is worth worrying about and what is not. I have had a very simple version of this conversation with my son, but he is still a little young for it.
Although I should add that I frequently speak with him and my daughter about challenges I face at my office and my thoughts at how to overcome them. They tend to smile and nod their heads at me, come to think of it, so do a lot of a people. Note to self, follow up on the nod and smile thing.
Earlier this week I went out to lunch at a local establishment and managed to screw up the tip. For two of us the bill came out to a total of $22.60. The guy I ate with pulled out a $20 and suggested that I take care of the rest. I laughed and said that had I known he wanted to take care of the bulk of the bill I would have ordered a more expensive meal and then pulled out my money clip.
I peeled off four singles and placed them on the table. As I did that I noticed that my companion had made a face and realized that I must have undertipped. He said that he if I didn’t have any more singles he could help out and give me another buck.
I smiled and pulled out another bill and left it on the table.
A few minutes later I walked into my office and tried to figure the situation out. It was one of those times in which my brain had slipped into neutral. I knew that something was off, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
So I grabbed the calculator to check my math and confirmed that a $4 tip on a $20 bill was 20 percent, but still something seemed off to me. It was only while speaking with my wife that it dawned upon me, the total bill was $22.60.
For some reason I was fixated upon $20, perhaps because of the $20 that the other guy had slapped down. And then it made sense to me why he had offered the extra buck. When I responded by placing the extra buck down I covered myself.
It is silly, but the experience stayed with me for a little while. I felt foolish. I don’t try to impress people with extravagant tips, but I also do not tip on the low end unles the service was really horrible.
As I tried to figure out what had made me feel so foolish I realized that there were a couple of things.
- The odd moments when my brain slips into neutral frustrate me. There are many people who are far smarter than I am, but I am not a stupid man. I usually pick up on things quickly so when I do not, it aggravates me, especially when they are obvious.
- The experience reminded me a bit of when I was younger and really strapped for cash. There were times when I tipped poorly because it was the best that I could do. At times I would avoid going out to sidestep the problem, but every now and then you have to get out.
Returning to the topic of conversations with my children this experience reminded me that I need to listen to my own advice. Sometimes we make mistakes and that is ok as long as you learn from them.
And part of learning from them is putting it behind you so that you do not waste time/energy obessessing over spilt milk. What is done is done, move on and try not to make the same mistake twice.
But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that it will be a while before I show my face in that place again.