Dear Annie: The other day, I was out for lunch with a woman I recently became friends with. At the end of the meal, we asked the server to split the check 50-50. He brought us our receipts. I was waiting for my friend to finish using the pen, and I wasn’t trying to peek, but I noticed she’d left the tip line blank. She noticed my noticing and, only a little sheepishly, said, “I’m just not making that much money right now” — as if that were an acceptable reason to stiff our (very kind) server. I was mortified but said nothing, took the pen and began writing in an extra-big tip to try to make up for her. She saw what I was doing and told me I shouldn’t worry about it. What do you think?
— Tipped Off
Dear Tipped Off: Anyone who can’t afford to leave a tip shouldn’t be eating out in the first place. The next time this friend wants to get together, suggest something free — though, if you’re the type of person who regards tipping as a sign of character (I do), you might not want to get together again at all.
Dear Annie: You’re going to get a lot of mail about the letter from “Alive and Well,” but I’d like to chime in. The 30-something daughter who admired a piece of furniture and asked for it in her parents’ will was perhaps just being direct, not rude. If they haven’t had any conversations about their end-of-life planning, she may just be doing the sensible thing by mentioning her desire while they are younger and still healthy.
My husband and I have handled the estates of our parents in recent years and can tell you that this is a multistage process that can quickly escalate if there isn’t a plan. After the legal details and during the grief process, the family will be left with “stuff.” Family heirlooms should be given to those who plan to keep, not sell, them.
Additionally, as you approach retirement, it’s wise to stop collecting “stuff” and to start downsizing before you are forced into it. Surveys show that the younger generation values experiences over things, so ask your kids now, “What do you want?” I think this is exactly what the daughter was trying to say; she probably still sees her parents as very capable and meant to be practical, not predatory.
— Jacksonville Reader
Dear Jacksonville Reader: Thanks for your letter. Indeed, I’ve heard from several others echoing the same sentiment. In hindsight, I was too quick to validate “Alive and Well’s” feelings of offense. I wish I’d advocated for end-of-life planning and talking to adult children about last wishes — perhaps an uncomfortable subject for some but an important one.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.