You go­ing to need change?

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

I have got­ten to the point that I no longer like to go out to eat, es­pe­cially if it is a restau­rant that my wife and I have not gone to be­fore. Here’s why.

You have a great meal in a nice restau­rant. The ser­vice was friendly and ex­cel­lent. When the check comes and I put my money down for the wait­ress, she says as she picks it up, “Do you need change?”

This ticks me off to no end. I have, in the past, gone through the trou­ble to try to ed­u­cate the servers, in the hope of break­ing them of the habit. So I ex­plain to them that you never, ever put the cus­tomer on the de­fen­sive by in­sin­u­at­ing that he is cheap for want­ing change from the bills he put down. The servers I ex­plain this to some­times un­der­stand, but most of the time, they do not. They just think I am some se­nior cit­i­zen who complains a lot.

I usu­ally re­tal­i­ate by leav­ing a small tip in­stead of the 20 to 25 per­cent that I would do oth­er­wise. (I try to tip big be­cause I know how lit­tle they make hourly.) De­pend­ing on how you and your read­ers look at it, I think I will leave a copy of my let­ter and your re­sponse along with the tip in the fu­ture. — Frus­trated in Maine

True, it’s not the best eti­quette on a server’s part to ask whether you want change. But I think you’re look­ing at this in the wrong light.

You’re as­sum­ing that servers are in­sin­u­at­ing you’re cheap when they pose this ques­tion. I highly doubt that. Sure, there may be some servers out there who would use such tac­tics to try to shame a big tip out of cus­tomers. But most servers are more po­lite than that — and more in­tel­li­gent. (Why risk of­fend­ing some­one pre­cisely at the mo­ment you want him to feel hap­pi­est with your ser­vice?) I find it more likely they’re obliv­i­ous and just try­ing to save them­selves a 30-sec­ond trip back to your ta­ble. In ei­ther sce­nario, a smile and a “yes, please” are the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse.

But if I hear a con­vinc­ing case against this, I’ll print it here for you to clip and keep at the ready in your wal­let.

I have a friend who is plan­ning to have her wed­ding at a lake next year in a state where nei­ther she nor her fi­ance lives or has rel­a­tives.

Her plan is to hold a very small (with about 10 peo­ple) pri­vate cer­e­mony, to be fol­lowed by a re­cep­tion with about 150 peo­ple.

My ques­tion is: Is this proper? All the guests are com­ing from out of state. Shouldn’t all the guests be in­vited to the cer­e­mony? I don’t feel it’s my place to tell the bride-to-be what I think, but I’m dis­ap­pointed. I al­ways look for­ward to the ac­tual wed­ding cer­e­mony more than the re­cep­tion. Is that just me?

— Con­fused Guest-to-Be

Yes, you’re right that typ­i­cally, ev­ery­one would be in­vited to the cer­e­mony. If any­thing, I’ve seen more wed­dings where the re­verse is done — where more peo­ple are free to come to the cer­e­mony than the re­cep­tion be­cause of bud­get con­straints. (How gen­er­ous of this cou­ple to want to in­clude ev­ery­one in the free din­ner and drinks part!)

For what­ever rea­son, the bride and groom want to keep the cer­e­mony pri­vate. It might not be the tra­di­tional choice, but it’s their choice.

Don’t take this as your be­ing ex­cluded. It’s still im­por­tant to them that you all share in this day. It sounds as if they’re look­ing at the party not merely as a re­cep­tion but as a cel­e­bra­tion of their love in its own right. That’s spe­cial. Have fun.

You’re as­sum­ing that servers are in­sin­u­at­ing you’re cheap when they pose this ques­tion.

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