I Might be Too Busy

Lunch time at Caltrans and we are going out for lunch. The engineers are the worst and there really is no more apt description than when 20 of us go somewhere for lunch and need to get separate checks. A few guys will drift over to a separate table and avoid being part of the group in an effort to avoid the added gratuity that often comes with parties of eight or more. There is a reason restaurants are imposing a mandatory gratuity on large parties and it is not because we were over-tipping.

At lunch when the gratuity rolls around things get downright embarrassing. Suddenly, it’s a scene straight out of Reservoir Dogs. To avoid such faux pas I always toss a few extra bucks in to make up for the lack of a tip. At the end of the meal nothing is going to make the engineer go for either the check or their wallet.

Maybe they failed math. That, or they think all service workers are overpaid and secretly building an electrified fenced, slavering guard dog-patrolled community of mansions in the country, all while chortling merrily about those idiots who tip… For whatever reason, the engineers tip a dollar for every meal, every time.

These engineers will break down every item on the check to the penny, including prorated tax and gratuity, for every party at the table. These engineers are good with numbers, unless you count the uncanny ability to consistently underestimate their portion of the check.

Suddenly, one person in the group volunteers to put it all on plastic. Relieved, everybody throws cash their way; they toss back change and usually walk away with at least their tip taken care of, if not half of their meal. I forgot to mention they are doing it for the free reward points they earn on the credit card.

The engineers make their well timed and lengthy visit to the restroom just as the check arrives. My fellow engineers often forget about paying back when you cover the check for them. Many of them have owed for so long that I have given up any hope that they will ever reimburse for that Starbucks or beer that I took care of. They always let me pick up the tab with a quick wave and a, “The next one’s on me”.

I do not want to come off as anti-social but I think I would rather just starve.


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