129. The Waiter

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Alvin didn't like the way the waiter walked—he projected an air of arrogance. The waiter came to their table with three glasses in one hand and three menus in the other. His thumb and fingers were all over the insides of the glasses. Alvin was disgusted. Hank and Nathan didn't seem to mind. "Any germ that doesn't kill you, just makes you stronger," Hank said. Alvin told Hank to remember that in a day or so when he was barfing in the toilet.

Alvin refused to drink or eat anything. He told them he would eat when he got home. Ten minutes later, after finally getting the waiter's attention, Hank and Nathan each ordered a small salad, a double cheeseburger with chips, and a couple of beers. Alvin asked the waiter if he had worked there long. "Long enough," the waiter replied. When he returned with the beers, Nathan told the waiter thanks. The waiter said nothing in reply.

"Did you see that?" Alvin asked. "You said thanks, and he didn't bother to say you're welcome." Hank said that younger people today were not taught the finer points of etiquette.

"The finer points?!" Alvin said. "The finer points are knowing which side of the plate the forks and spoons are supposed to be on. Knowing when to say 'sir,' 'thank you,' and 'you're welcome' is elementary etiquette." The waiter came back to clear the plates from the table. Nathan hadn't quite finished, but said nothing. When the waiter brought the bill about ten minutes later, Alvin motioned to him.

"Give me the bill," he said. "I'm going to treat my friends." Wordlessly, the waiter placed the bill in front of Alvin.

Nathan and Hank were astounded. "You know," said Nathan, "this might be the first time I've ever seen you pick up the tab. What's the occasion?" Alvin told Nathan that he just felt like being nice to his friends for a change. The bill was $20. After his friends had left the table, Alvin put a 35-cent tip on the table.


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