When I looked at my receipt, I saw that the meal was listed as $3.99, my coffee came to $1.00, and $0.35 was listed as tax. In other words, I was being charged $4.99, not $4.79 for my meal. I immediately announced the discrepancy, but rhetoric escalated quickly when the counter man said, essentially, that the computer said the meal was $4.99. “That isn’t what it says on the menu,” I replied, with rather too much emotion, and I found myself asking to speak to the manager. The manager was nearby, working about as hard as anyone else—it seemed like a busy morning—and, before I got her to open the cash drawer with her key, she mumbled something about having to change the overhead menu. In any case, I was given 20¢. I was actually owed 21¢, but I didn’t want to make a bigger case out of it.
I took my tray and found a table, where I planned to eat my breakfast and work on my poem. (See “A Labor Day Lament.”) I was feeling bad, however, about giving workers such a hard time on Labor Day. (The manager deserved it, but the counter man didn’t.) As it happened, my concentration on the dispute over my check caused me to leave the counter before getting my hash browns. This was rather fortunate, as it gave me an opportunity to apologize to the counter man who came to my table to deliver my potatoes.
Not long after I began eating, the manager had someone on a ladder changing the menu. The price was now really $4.99.