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James and Manny were in-laws chatting over a deep-dish pizza in a pizza joint. Their wives were off gallivanting somewhere else, but they did expect a nice meal from the leftovers.
They talked about family, friends, national events, world problems, solving them all yet solving none. It’s the way life should be among friends and relatives.
Waitress Kaylee brought them the check. James asked if he could pay. Sure, why not? Nice touch. At thirteen cents under $50, the meal was pricey for pizza, but they still had leftovers for at least another meal, maybe more. And, of course, they couldn’t forget their dear wives.
James opened his wallet and said, “I’ve been meaning to get rid of some big bills this trip.” He dropped a bill into the black folded covering. Manny threw in a $10 tip. Twenty percent, not bad. Not exceptional service but very good.
They talked more until Waitress Kaylee picked up the folded covering without opening it. Waitresses never look at it in front of their customers. They must learn that in wait staff school or something.
She saw a tiny portion of a bill sticking out the top. “Do you need change, gentlemen?”
Manny said, “No.”
James said “Yes” over Manny’s ‘no.’
Again, Manny said, “No, I don’t think so.”
James’ face drained of any substantial color. He glared at Manny across the table. “Are you sure?” he asked, blinking a hundred thousand times.
James and Manny had known each other for 30 years. They’d eaten out at least fifty times together. Neither was tight-fisted with the wait staff. Twenty percent is the norm, give or take 2%.
“Uh, I think I’m sure,” Manny said. “Why?”
Poor Waitress Kaylee was caught in the middle of an unknown tip war. Good problem for her to have but a little awkward.
Manny stared across the table and tilted his head slightly, squinting. He was trying to read his brother-in-law.
James broke the silence. “You do know I dropped in a $100 bill, don’t you?”
“A, a, a what? No, no. I didn’t know that. I thought it was only $50. Oh no, my bad. Kaylee Kaylee Kaylee sorry about that, yes, we’ll need some change.”
After Kaylee went away with the money, James said, “You know you’re going to have to take care of her now, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I will. I’ll toss in an extra ten.”
“Go with 15, Boss. You set her hopes up.
“Roger that. Fifteen it is.”