We're two weeks into January, so let's check on those New Year's resolutions. How's that diet? Are you digging your beet-and-onion smoothie every morning? Has that daily stint on the treadmill caused your last brain cell to die from boredom?
Well, you've only got 350 or so days left before you can start over again next New Year's Day. So chin(s) up.
Today's special: mooching
That person, according to the food blog Eater.com, is a California diner who stiffed a waiter by leaving a printed card that blamed state and federal tax increases on the wealthy for their lack of gratuity. Because of higher taxes, the card read, "I must cut back on discretionary spending and gratuities. I wish it didn't have to be this way for both of us."
You'd think someone at that income level could find other ways to save, such as skipping the appetizer of sauteed liver of peasant. Or not printing up cards to tell waiters you're short-changing them.
First of all, it's simply reprehensible to make your waiter a political pawn. When the people in the highest tax bracket want to make a point about tax law, they shouldn't chisel a waiter - they should just buy a senator.
Second, this galling gourmet is just a cheapskate hiding behind politics. While I am all about conserving your cash, I don't recommend ditching the social contract with people who can sneeze on your food. ("I'm sure that's just green pepper, sir.")
Fork it over, pal
The federal minimum wage is $7.25, but, for people who get tips, it's $2.13. Michael McCall, an Ithaca College business professor who studies the hospitality industry, says tipping boosts that to $15 to $20.
But servers don't know how much they're getting until you've left. This gives them an incentive to get your order right and generally make your dining experience the direct opposite of a day at the DMV. If you've decided beforehand that you won't be tipping, you are perpetrating a cruel fraud on people who've already suffered enough, what with majoring in theater, medieval art or journalism.
If you don't have enough money to tip, you don't have enough money to eat out. Get your food to go, hit the drive-thru or, heaven forefend, cook for yourself. If you insist that tipping is optional and aren't going to do it, then I dare you to do this: inform your server at the start of your meal. Just don't order anything with green pepper.
(Brian J. O'Connor is an award-winning columnist for The Detroit News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)