Guilt trip

This post is about a guilt trip not a quilt trip although I did drop off my firstborn yesterday – I left my Baltimore Album quilt at the quilt show venue. They have more than 300 quilts to hang, so it takes a few days. The show opens Wednesday night with a sneak preview for participants. I felt similarly bereft when we dropped Savannah at doggie day camp at the pet store the first time. I remember peeping out from behind the shelving where you get a good view of the playroom through a large plate glass window, except of course dogs can smell through glass so she jumped up at the window and pressed her little nose against it and made me feel worse. I’m glad they don’t have one of those video cameras like some camps do – or I would be glued to my screen ready to rescue her if another puppy was being mean. Silly me – the other dogs are are all scared of our feisty pup, who can hold her own against anything. But even though the quilt show organizer assured me they will take good care of my quilt, what happens if there’s a flood or a fire? That quilt represents hundreds of hours of work, millions of stitches and miles of thread. Maybe someone will kidnap it for ransom – now that would make it worth it.

We then went to one of our favorite French cafes. It’s one of the few places in Atlanta that has real French bread and pastries. The staff turnover is notoriously high – I don’t think we’ve ever seen the same server more than twice, which is a shame because they are always sweet and friendly – and SO young. Cedric asked me how old I thought our server was. I answered immediately, “At least 8.” I asked her – she’s 20. It was the bill that gave me the guilt trip, but not for the amount. I felt guilty when I paid, guilty when I left and I woke up this morning still feeling guilty. How could a croissant do that to me? We always order the same thing – baguettes with ham and cheese and then have a pastry. Then, we get croissants and other goodies to go. OK, the bill was hefty, but that wasn’t the issue. It was the helpful inclusion, in case you are mathematically challenged, of a suggested gratuity right there under the total. They word it, “Gratuity Example” – and they give two amounts – 18% and 20% – yep! What happened to 15%? Now, we are not talking a real French bistro in the middle of town. This is a nondescript building on the intersection of two busy roads in a suburb of Atlanta – not even downtown. There’s no ambiance or street atmosphere anywhere within sniffing distance; you can’t walk along and window shop; you park and walk across the uneven parking lot and you could be walking into a gas station. For 18 or 20%, I want sniffy French serving staff wearing long black aprons over starched white shirts, not 8-year-old girls in T-shirts and jeans; I want linen napkins, not paper; and I want tablecloths and heavy silverware. But what rubbed salt in the wound was the bill included our food AND the items we took out in paper bags, so the suggested gratuity of 20% was on every croissant, too. Now, that’s blackmail. It wasn’t the server’s fault, I know that. When I paid, and added a generous tip but only on what we had eaten at the table, I explained to her that there should be NO gratuity on bread and pastries that they load into a bag and hand to you – otherwise, it would be like paying a gratuity on a pair of shoes when you walk out of the shoe store. She looked at me like I had three heads and I saw her show another server the bill as we walked out and they both turned and glared at me. At least, with their staff turnover, she won’t be there the next time. So why do I feel so guilty?

One thought on “Guilt trip”

  1. I think you feel guilty because you are a generous person – but…don’t feel guilty – you were generous! There is a pizza place near my work where you order at the counter, sit down and they bring you your food. I tip because someone does bring the food & clean the table. However, they do a lot of take-out business…I remember once that someone came in and got about 6 pizzas to take-out. Called in the order, then came to the counter, paid, walked away with the pizzas to their car and left. I heard the waitress say “He didn’t even leave a tip?” I thought – why should he? I guess from her point of view, she had to ring up his order and a cook had to make the pizza so she thought they should have been tipped for that but to me…that is their basic job – tips are for doing other things, like serving tables, refilling drinks, checking on the customer, etc.


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