Jewish Journal


October 5, 2011

Some People Are Just Too Cheap


I’m all for thrifty, but some folks take it a bit too far – especially some rich folks.  Like the wealthy women who invited us to her penthouse apartment for lunch, handed out takeout menus, and collected our money when the food came!

One thing I’ll never understand is richies who are cheap tippers: why not share the wealth?  My parents were poor, but they always tipped generously because they had compassion for working people.  This compassion does not always cross class lines. 

I attended a high-society wedding where private buses were hired to bring us from the church to the reception, and then back to our hotel.  When we got to our final destination the host on our bus, the groom’s brother - the scion of an old-money family - neglected to tip the driver.  When someone (me) took him aside and suggested that a gratuity might be in order, his drunken response was something like “Why? He’s already been paid.”  So much for noblesse oblige.

Like I said – maybe it’s a class thing. When I was in college, my friend Toby got a summer job as a bellboy in a Catskills hotel.  One weekend the hotel was taken over by a group of gentlemen who were there for an international business conference.  The business was crime, and the gentlemen were Cosa Nostra.  Toby never got less than a hundred dollar tip for carrying bags.  Well, that’s only fair: Uzis are heavy.

Moneyed people are not the only ones who can be stingy.  There was a little general store down the road from our upstate NY country house.  George, the owner, never turned on the lights in order to save money: a good example of “Penny-wise, pound foolish.”  Needless to say, business was not booming.  Not too many people want to poke around in the dark for a dusty can of baked beans from 1947.

One day I asked George if he would put aside the local paper for me each week.  I wanted to be sure that it would not be sold out when we arrived on Fridays, since it contained the all-important auction and garage sale listings.  George, with his sharp sense of business acumen, agreed to save the paper – as long as I gave him the twenty-five cents in advance!
It might be a good idea to control those cheapskate instincts when you’re out on a date.  My girl friend Ann Rita met a guy online.  They chatted a few times on the phone, and finally agreed to get together for brunch.  As they studied the menu, he suggested, “Why don’t we just split an order of toast?”  Ann Rita is not particularly materialistic, but she had to swallow the impulse to say, “Why don’t you have the toast and I’ll just split?” 

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