It has happened to anyone who participates in any group that goes out to eat even once. The bill comes, is passed around for review, money is collected – and a discussion ensues over who owes how much more for what, or hard feeling are hidden over the one(s) who didn’t pay quite enough. Usually the larger the group, the more the bill falls short, and the longer it takes to straighten out.
One season, Kilbourn Organic Greenhouse’s volunteers took a series of field trips to interesting gardens, architectural sites and related environs. I knew the others – slightly – but in the spirit of camaraderie, I offered to drive as many as would fit in our Suburban to that week’s feature, a big Wisconsin nursery almost two hours away.
The drive was uneventful, with people chatting and sharing garden tips. After an informative tour, there was room for each person to stash a flat of plants in the car’s
“way-back”. The final stop was lunch at a nearby pizza place.
The moment of truth came; the tension is the air was palatable, because the gratuity wasn’t included. Would the waitress get the short end of the stick? Of fourteen people, who would pretend she’d hardly eaten anything, and so owed next to nothing, leaving the rest to scramble for spare change?
The bill made the rounds, money appeared and was piled up. Someone counted it. There was too much!
A discussion ensued, but in an atmosphere of joviality: we were good souls. Each woman got a dollar or so back and the waitress got a big tip. The huge sigh of relief I breathed was heard only by myself. I would go out again anytime with this bunch!
As I reflect on that day and those people, it seems likely that — just as good garden souls putting nutrients on a bed say to it “A little extra compost may help, and anyway, it won’t hurt,” so, too, the garden group said “Oh, well, dear, a little extra money from me might help, and won’t hurt in any event.”