Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Friday was the last day for one of the people in our department, so a bunch of us ordered sub sandwiches from Potbelly’s and everybody threw in a little extra to buy Sandie’s lunch.

The delivery guy from Potbelly’s came to the office about thirty seconds after I took a phone call that I couldn’t beg my way out of. I held up my index finger to give the delivery guy the universal sign for “just one minute” and he nodded and mouthed “okay.”

It was a conference call. I tried to keep my answers brief and steer the conversation toward a conclusion, like that was going to do any good. In no time at all the other two people on the call started babbling about something I had nothing to do with, so, keeping one ear on the conversation, I dug a wad of bills out of my pocket and gave it to the delivery guy.

Delivery Guy counted what I gave him, handed it back and said, “You gave me seventy-nine.”

“What’s the total?” I asked.

“Eighty-two,” he said.

I’d added up the total ahead of time, but I must have added wrong because the total I got, plus tip, came to eighty-two. Still, I heard (with the ear that wasn’t listening to a conference call) eighty-two, and the half of my brain that wasn’t trying to keep track of the babbling (in case I had to jump into the conversation) said, “Eighty-two! That’s what I got!”

I peeled off three more dollars, gave it to Delivery Guy and said thanks. He gave me an icy look and walked away. I thought, What, fifteen percent isn’t enough any more? Then I forgot about it.

Until the phone call ended and I sat down to eat my sandwich. While I was munching happily away I passed an eye over the receipt, saw the total at the bottom, eighty-two, and a troubling thought slowly took shape in my mind: Hey … did I just stiff that guy? Oh, SHIT, I did stiff that guy!

Of course I had to walk down to Potbelly’s on the other end of State Street to apologize and pay him. My whole weekend would have been nothing but guilt and worry if I hadn’t. As it turned out, Deliver Guy was behind the counter when I got there, getting ready to make another run. I offered him my hand, said I was sorry about a million times and passed him a sawbuck. “No hard feelings,” he said, and gave me a cookie.

stiffed | 9:05 am CST
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