Eight of us went out to dinner. Complex counting ensued when the bill arrived, because you know professors, they don’t do that “just split it evenly thing.” Normally I try to avoid being the officious one who counts the money, but this time I did it.

Anyhow, so we delayed a bit after leaving, and a group was waiting for our table, so as I got up, I cheerfully said to a woman, “Sorry. We had to give the waitress a chance to count the money and make sure we hadn’t stiffed her.”

And instead of doing the sort of half-smile, I’m being polite but why are you talking to me?, she said “Oh, did you enjoy your meal?”

Because I’ve lived here some years: “Oh, yeah, good as always here. The dessert was excellent.”

“Oh, what did you have?”

“Espresso pot de creme. Wonderful!”

At which point I managed to get out the door.

I may have posted about this before, but it was my second or third year before I realized that it wasn’t that somehow I was always in line at the grocery store behind someone who knew the cashier, but rather that in this town, appropriate chit-chat at the cash register includes things like:

“Oh great—we’re going on vacation next month.”
“Cool. Where?”

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