I’m not looking for a sugar daddy or a man to support me in any financial way (although I am accepting presents and if you want to pay off my college loans I won’t stop you).

Thrifty is one thing, cheap is another. I love a deal. I’m a total bargain hunter. $2 tacos, happy hours, second hand stores, Living Social, are all things I can get down with. Cheap men are not.

I went on a date last night with James. He chose a bar in the West Village, a bar that he found using Yelp. James has lived in the city for close to ten years so it seemed a little odd that he needed to use Yelp to find a bar but I decided to consider it thoughtful that he was doing some research.

Cocktails were around $14, that’s definitely expensive but in New York it’s not uncommon. Being that James looked up the establishment online I assumed he had a good idea of how much the drinks cost.

Throughout our conversation James brought up more than once that he often eats cereal for dinner. He’s eight years out of college; I should have read this as a warning sign. When the check came the bill was $29. He looked at like it was a speeding ticket and our waitress (who had been incredibly friendly and accommodating) like she was the offending officer.

When I offered to pay for my drink his voice shifted into a deep macho tone and he insisted on paying. He handed the waitress two twenties. She came back with two fives and a one, $11. James made a snide laugh when he saw the change, “Look, look what this waitress is trying to tell me.”

I looked at the money, failing to see any cryptic message. “She brought back two fives and a one because she’s saying the tip should be five dollars. No way,” he said grabbing the two fives and leaving our poor waitress a one dollar tip.

I’ve worked in the service industry for too long to stand for such shitty behavior. I might be a little jaded, I cocktail at a nightclub where bottles of alcohol are wildly expensive and tip is automatically included. Servers don’t make a salary; tips are how they pay their bills. $1 can’t even buy you a pack of gum in the city.

I gave him a disapproving look as I reached for my wallet to put my own money in. “It’s cool, let me pay for my drink,” I insisted.

“No,” he said defensively, “tell me what you would do.”

“Drop the cash,” I instructed. Then I snatched the one and the five up and handed it back to him, leaving five dollars on the table. “That’s 20%, this is New York, that’s what you do.”

“But then the waitress’ plan worked,” he said like a child defeated in a game.

“I’m pretty sure there was no plan on her part. She was just doing her job,” I said.

Needless to say, it was an awkward end to the date. Knowing how much Granny hates a tightwad, I thought she’d be more on board with me when I told her about the interaction.

Over the summer she called me to complain about a cheap date. First he didn’t want to pick her up because of the price of gas. Then he wanted her to meet him at quarter to six so they could make the early bird special (Granny is definitely not an early bird kind of bird). At dinner when she ordered a second glass of wine he asked her, “Are you sure?”

“I’m positive,” she said. Then never went out with him again.

She agreed I shouldn’t see James again but told me, “Don’t criticize kid, no one likes to be criticized. He’d get the message just as easily if ya never went out with him again.”

Urgh, I guess she’s right. I didn’t mean to be rude, I just thought for the better good of every server in the city that James comes across on Yelp, he needed someone to break it down for him. Hopefully we both learned our lesson.

9 Comments on “Cheap”

  1. MoBeta says:

    I think what you did was fine. You were clear that you didn’t like what you were seeing. That awkward moment says a lot about people. Are they generous? Can they do math? It can be a good sign of a date too, if he’s feeling generous he’s probably having a good time and just wants to pay the bill so he can lay a smooch on you!

    I’ve recently come into some confidence. Men have really been responding to my straight forward, this is what I want, this is who I am candor. It’s just a date with a stranger say how you feel, that’s why you’re there.

  2. Eliska says:

    Sorry. I disagree with Granny. What you did was perfect and I wish I had the cajones you do. I would have just dropped some cash on the table on the way out. But without you breaking it down for him, he never would have got it. And that’s just unacceptable behavior on his part. He’s not 80 – there’s no excuse for him not to understand tipping.

    Love the blog.

  3. I think what you did was perfect as well–James was about to shortchange someone for their hard-earned living, and you stepped in and did the right thing for your server’s benefit. Hopefully James learned from the experience. (Based on the fact that James saw his small tip as a “victory,” I’m not so sure he would have pinpointed that the tip was one of the reasons you weren’t going to see him again.)

    In fact, re-reading the post, you tried a very tactful way of putting more money on the table without shaming James (re-offering to pay for your drink), and he didn’t accept! That’s on him.

  4. I’ll pile on — I *definitely* think you did the right thing. You tried in multiple (impressively tactful) ways to get the message across, but James either couldn’t or wouldn’t hear you. I doubt he learned the lesson even then.

    Some folks are just a bit “thick…”

  5. aw says:

    I think you did the right thing as well– if you hadn’t and simply chose to not go out wit him, it could have been for a plethora of reasons [although, i’m sure he still doesn’t ‘get it’.] That said [having been born/raised/still living in nyc], I get frustrated with people’s attitudes toward tipping, etc. I’m by far not a cheapie [I wish I were a little more cheap, honestly] but it’s not my job to pay a server’s salary– it’s the job of the restaurant owner. A tip needs [or should be] to be given in appreciation of exceptional, out- of- the ordinary service. Why do servers feel so entitled to one? I’ve more than once had terrible service, or just okay service but would be a giant asshole if I didn’t tip 15-20%– when in reality most servers haven’t worked for it. If I wanted to pay someone’s salary, I’d higher a personal chef or maid. I tip because you did a good job– not because I’m sad you’re working in a restaurant and because I am made to feel bad that your BOSS doesn’t pay you, so I should. You aren’t entitled to a tip for doing your job which, is bringing me my meal and drink. That said, I’m sure your waitress was fine and this guy was absolutely an idiot but still…. okay, #endrant

  6. […] for two beers?” he yelled over the loud patrons. He wasn’t trying to be rude or sarcastic like James, he was honestly just mystified by New York […]

  7. Penelope says:

    This is a great post. It’s my first time reading and I’ll be back! I selfishing love reading dating stories since I’m not in them myself anymore. 🙂

    I think you did the right thing – similar to what I would have done – but Granny does have a point. Wise!

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