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When a Healthy Dose of Suspicion Makes Sense


Dear Annie: "Bill" and I have been married for 43 years. He retired three years ago. We didn't socialize with any of his co-workers, so I didn't know them well.

Last Christmas, Bill got a card with no return address. It only had Bill's name on it. I handed it to him so he had to open it in front of me. It was a really nice card from "Betty" and a note telling him how much she missed him, their talks, their lunches and their personal conversations. She suggested they get together for a holiday lunch.

When I asked Bill why he never mentioned Betty to me, he said the lunches didn't mean anything and he probably forgot because they were so insignificant. I don't believe him. We have always told each other everything. He put Betty's card on display with the others, but I asked him to take it down since it wasn't sent to us as a couple. He said he'd throw it away because it made me unhappy. But, Annie, my instincts said he was lying, so I checked the trash. No card. The other day, I saw his old briefcase, and inside was Betty's card. He had written her phone number on it.

If this card meant nothing to him, why keep it? Why lie to me? I love my husband. I want to trust him. I've never had reason not to, but I'm shaken to the core. Now I pay close attention when he leaves the house and keep track of how long he's gone. Last week, he said he needed to run some errands and was gone for nearly two hours. He claims he ran into "Dave," a former co-worker, but I wonder if this was Betty's holiday lunch.

I hate feeling this way. My kids say to forget about it before I make myself sick. Are they right? Am I just paranoid? — Card Woes

Dear Card: No. Your husband is not being totally truthful about Betty, and this creates suspicion and distrust, both of which undermine your relationship.

You need to have a long talk with him and explain why his behavior is hurting you. If he cannot reassure you sufficiently, the next step is counseling.

Dear Annie: Recently, my wife and I were in Las Vegas and had a terrible experience at a buffet at one of the top hotels. I sent an email to the manager, and she forwarded it to the executive chef. The executive chef apologized, invited us to dine at any of the hotel's restaurants and suggested the most expensive one. He met us at the restaurant and said to order anything we wanted on the menu, starting with wine. The total bill came to $350.

I said we should leave a tip, but my wife (who has a restaurant background) said that when the management invites you, you do not tip. Who is right? — Comped Bill

Dear Bill: You are. The waitstaff still had to work to serve you, no matter who paid the bill. Unless there was an added service charge that was then picked up by the owner, the waitstaff should not be penalized because you had a bad experience at another location.

Dear Annie: "Hurt in California" felt bad that she called the police on a brother who might be raising children in a neglectful, possibly abusive environment.

As a person whose childhood was very similar to that scenario, I would have been rescued many times over if an adult had had the courage to call Child Protective Services. I cringe when I hear my aunts say they still wonder whether they should have done the same, but "didn't want to interfere."

Please take the risk of sticking up for those kids. They will remember for the rest of their lives that someone was paying attention. — Shouldawouldacoulda

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



78 Comments | Post Comment
I think you have a serious problem on your hands. If you can afford it, hire a Private Investigator to get to the bottom of it BEFORE you have this big talk with your husband. That way you'll have some evidence on your side. Sorry that this is happening to you.
My vote is for leaving a tip when you're not sure - it can't hurt, right, considering the meal was free (and very expensive!)
I, too, would've been grateful if someone had called Child Protective Services on my behalf when I was a kid (if there even was such a thing back in the '70s), and cringe when relatives say "I knew something was going on, but I didn't want to get involved." Gack!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Barbara B.
Tue Mar 6, 2012 9:24 PM
I do not agree with the Annies or with Barbara B. either. I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill, and if your marriage is in trouble I think you are letting your imagination run away with you and are creating that trouble. Listen to your kids! I am retired now, but over the years have worked in many offices and made many friends. Some female, some male; I didn't really distinguish between them, they were all friends. Of course I now wonder how they are doing! Sometimes I will send a card at Christmas and ask how that person is doing. It means I valued the friendship at the time and still do; it does not mean I am trying to abscond with someone else's husband! If I worked close to someone for years, of course we talked and got to know each other. Because he retired, and I retired, does not mean that we consider each other dead; we just want to say hello and wish each other well. And if it were a woman friend whose husband I had never met, it would seem strange to me to address it to Mr. and Mrs. In your husband's case, he no doubt wrote down the phone # to call her and thank her for the card. After you went ballistic, what else could he do? And don't forget, he had to write it down. Don't you think if this were anything more he would know her number and how to get in touch with her? Chill it!
Comment: #2
Posted by: tonie
Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:14 PM
LW2 – Considering my daughter is a server, I am rather topsy-turvy on the Annies advice. A meal so crappy that the executive chef sent an invite (encouraging the most expensive one) to them, is on the house. A $350 meal would mean a $70 tip (20%), not exactly a “free meal”. But the servers at the expensive restaurant had nothing to do with the bad “experience”. Why not have the executive chef send the tip expense to the original restaurant (obviously owned by the same people)? Oh, wait… that would be him!!! Consideration would rule: the servers from the bad restaurant should have their tip pay reduced to pay for the good service.

LW1 – I don't want to think about Betty, nor should you. If your husband of 43 years lied about a relationship which you previously were not aware of, stop being his chef, cleaning lady, laundress, etc., then wait. You might not get the truth, but you will have shown hubby who is more important to him. Doubtfully it is Betty, but in the unlikely event it is, which would you rather? Hubby living a lie and you making yourself sick; or Hubby coming back home just for the maid-service?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Jenna
Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:21 PM

LW3 refers to the first letter on 4 February 2012.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:34 PM
LW1 - obviously there's more to this than the letter states, because you put him in a position where he "had" to open the card in front of you. Sounds like you already had some suspicions. You could go the PI route, or get a device to track where he goes in the car, or put a voice activated recorder in the car, or, better yet, set up a "nanny cam" in the house and go off for a weekend on your own. Get a keystroke logger for the computer, check his cell phone records, etc. Or, take the direct route. You saw that he had "Betty's" number written on it. Call her. Most "other women" will either gladly dish the dirt, hoping you'll leave him, or primly reply "you really should be talking to your husband" to try to put him in a position of making a choice.

LW2, you should have left a tip. A GENEROUS one. You didn't have to have a comped meal, the least you could have done was say "thank you" with a nice tip instead of leaving your servers with the impression their service was shoddy, or with the more accurate one, that you just flat out don't have an ounce of common decency and manners. Man up! You wouldn't have listened to you wife unless you wanted to, I'm sure. It was your "out" for not doing the right thing.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jo
Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:35 PM
I'm surprised the Annie's didn't point out that LW 1 is probably post-menopausal, and ""Betty" probably isn't, so "Bill" is simply going for the gal with the sex drive...if LW1 waits long enough, Betty will hit menopause too, and Bill will be back home...LOL!!
Comment: #6
Posted by: Jo
Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:42 PM
LW1: It is entirely possible that LW is overreacting and that LW's husband and Betty were "work spouses" or just work friends who had lunch occasionally. People derive at least some of their identity from the work they do and it is also possible that LW's husband feels less useful and less fulfilled since he retired.

However, the things that bother me are that he lied to LW, hid the card, wrote Betty's phone number on it, and then "ran into Dave" while out running errands.

I think marriage counseling is a great idea, because a trained counselor who is (hopefully) completely unbiased can help him understand why his behavior is unacceptable. S/he can also help LW communicate with her husband so that she is better understood.

LW needs to gain a clear understanding of what is really going on between her husband and Betty so that she can sleep nights. I dont think it's in her best interests to ignore the situation.
Comment: #7
Posted by: PuaHone
Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:58 PM
Comment: #8
Posted by: PuaHone
Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:59 PM
You know I wonder what the annies left out of LW1. Alone it sounds like mountains and molehills but...

What the hell woman sends a christmas card to a retired man she's not having sex with? Come on BTL'ers fess up. Which one of you would do such a thing? Do you know ANY woman who would? Because I sure as hell don't. In fact it sounds like a "gee Bill I miss our lunch time plow sessions why haven't you written since retiring Oh Gosh Gee must be your Bitch Wife so I'll send you a card..." Just WHAT? Sorry I don't know any woman outside of a formal requirement who would send a card to a married man she wasn't plowing, missed plowing, or was wanting to plow for exactly the reasons listed here. Especially a woman over the age of 40 which Betty near has to be.
Comment: #9
Posted by: wkh
Wed Mar 7, 2012 1:28 AM

The LW didn't actually say they didn't leave a tip. He said they disagreed and asked who was right.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Laura
Wed Mar 7, 2012 2:19 AM
LW1 - When letters like these are posted, there is always a fight BTL! Get ready, LOL!

I've said it once, I'll say it again...when somone hides something from their spouse, it's never good. I'm not saying he and Betty and sleeping together, but there's obviously something going on besides an innocent friendship. If there wasn't, he wouldn't have hidden it. My brother's best friend is a woman. My sister-in-law is not jealous and has no problems with it because my brother doesn't hide anything from her. One of my best friends is a guy, who is now married. His wife and I have become good friends, too. I was never an issue between the two of them because he never hid anything from her.

I say have a frank talk with him about this. If he still blows you off, I say hire a P.I. to see what's going on.

LW2 - I agree that the wait staff should be tipped but I don't think you should have paid for the tip, though. The owner should have paid for the gratuity since it was a comped meal. Like another poster said, the tip would be $70. Not exactly a "free" meal. In the future, if I'm ever offered a comped meal, especially a pricey one, I will ask in advance if they're covering gratuity, too.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Michelle
Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:10 AM
In 1825, states enacted laws giving social-welfare agencies the right to remove neglected children from their parents.
In 1912, the federal Children's Bureau was established to manage services related to child maltreatment. In 1958, amendments to the Social Security Act mandated that states fund child protection efforts. In 1962, professional and media interest in child maltreatment was sparked by the publication of C. Henry Kempe and associates' "The battered child syndrome" in JAMA. By the mid-1960s, in response to public concern that resulted from this article, 49 U.S. states passed child-abuse reporting laws. So there was a federal legal *requirement* that abuse be reported by the mid sixties.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Nicholas Beeson
Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:14 AM
LW1: It's entirely possible you ARE being paranoid, and your husband picked up on it, and that's why he's being a little shady about keeping her card. However, that's still rather suspicious, and lifelong partners should be able to be more honest with each other. So, since this is bothering you, you should definitely talk to him -- not in an accusing tone, but in a very matter-of-fact way, that you know he lied about throwing out the card, and this is creating trust issues, and ask him to work with you in sorting them out.

LW2: Unless the service was bad, or unless the management explicitly told you they would cover the tip, you don't want to punish the servers. Same thing with restaurant coupons -- if you have a "buy one get one free" meal coupon, you base your tip on what the full meal would have cost without the coupons. (Again, unless the service was bad).
Comment: #13
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:24 AM
Consideration would rule: the servers from the bad restaurant should have their tip pay reduced to pay for the good service.
The bad restaurant was a buffet. Wanna bet the issue there was food (quality/amounts/replacement time) rather than how fast their drinks were refilled or whether the fork they dropped was replaced? At any rate, buffet servers generally don't get tipped the same percentage as at those who do full service.

I think a tip was in order at the high end restaurant. True, being out $70 makes it not a free meal -- but you knew going in that it was an expensive place and knew whether the tip would be over your budget. You did have the option of choosing a less-expensive place -- or choosing less expensive food -- either of which could have brought the amount you spent on your "free" meal closer to the cost of what you would have paid to eat at the buffet restaurant again. The food/drink were the manager's to waive the cost for; the service was not.

LW1: You do need to calm down. Yeah, your husband is hiding something from you, which isn't good, but I'm not sure if he's hiding something because there's something that would set off most wives, or because your reaction to the card pushed innocent behavior underground. If you're unable to have that talk with your husband in a calm way, without flipping out, a few sessions with a therapist to help you figure out how to do it will benefit you.
Comment: #14
Posted by: hedgehog
Wed Mar 7, 2012 4:22 AM
RE: bad tipper, you had a wonderful free meal. The waitstaff had no dog in this game. It wasn't their fault, and now they are the victims in this. Waitstaff are not rich people, but probably struggling students or parents. Thanks for nothing.
Comment: #15
Posted by: happymom
Wed Mar 7, 2012 4:33 AM
Re: Jo, 5-'- obviously there's more to this than the letter states, because you put him in a position where he "had" to open the card in front of you. Sounds like you already had some suspicions. You could go the PI route, or get a device to track where he goes in the car, or put a voice activated recorder in the car, or, better yet, set up a "nanny cam" in the house and go off for a weekend on your own. Get a keystroke logger for the computer, check his cell phone records, etc.' if you switch the genders so that this were written by a man, we would all be advising him that he is coming across as a potential abuser. accusing a partner of cheating when no cheating was done is often the first signs of a controlling, abusive relationship. let it go. if he leaves, he was not yours to begin with. if he stays, you know he loves you.

wkh,9-there are other reasons to keep in touch with a former co-worker. i worked for a newspaper with many people i considered to be friends. since my retirement, i am in touch with one of the columnists from time to time. i read his column and sometimes e-mail him to comment on it. my husband does not read my e-mails over my shoulder, so i don't think he is aware that from time to time we e-mail, but if he asked, i'd let him read the e-mails. i have nothing to hide. i also know that my husband is in touch with friends we had before we moved. in that couple, she is the one who does the correspondence. i have no problem with this. she sends him some very funny e-mails which he forwards to a lot of people on his mailing list, including me. do i think he's 'plowing' or has 'plowed' her? of course not.
'betty' might not have known if the couple was still married. there could have been a divorce or a death in the three years.
Comment: #16
Posted by: alien07110
Wed Mar 7, 2012 5:16 AM
LW2: The Annies are only half right. Of course the waitstaff deserves its usual tip. But it's the HOST, i.e., the party paying the bill, that is responsible for the tip.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Jon V
Wed Mar 7, 2012 5:30 AM
If you don't know a man well enough to send him a car with his spouse's name on it as well, you have no business sending him a card in anything other than a professional manner, and if he's retired, it's not professional, especially when littered with "I miss yew!" crap. So inappropriate. Call me old fashioned or one who believes men and women can't be friends but believe me that's how most affairs begin, by people indignant anyone could suggest there's anything improper about their friendship and then they start confessing all kinds of home life drama and then someone starts getting smoochy. Plenty of people of your non-sexually-preferred gender to pal around with.
Comment: #18
Posted by: wkh
Wed Mar 7, 2012 5:39 AM
Re: happymom

I would agree with you that waitstaff at a normal chain or mom and pop restaurant are low wage and could have used such a good tip. But this is Las Vegas at a very expensive restaurant. It is the norm for them to run three-four tables concurrently where the tip will be between $50-90. If you do the math that works out to between $150-360 in the hour to an hour and a half that those customers will be in the seats. Guess what they get to do that again with the next set of guests that are seated. That's a lot of money, and as long as the tips are in cash it is not going to get reported to the IRS as income. So the waitstaff is easily clearing $300 a night tax free. Do that 5 nights a week and I don't really worry they are doing too poorly. The waitstaff certainly deserved a tip for their work and someone should have paid it; but not the couple who were given this free meal because of poor quality at the buffet. But doubt they are struggling students as you suggest. I had a friend who was stationed with her husband in the D.C. area both of them in the AF. She worked a couple of nights a week to double her salary waiting at a restaurant with similar tip rates. She doubled her monthly salary in those tips at her upscale restaurant job.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Paula
Wed Mar 7, 2012 5:44 AM
“obviously there's more to this than the letter states, because you put him in a position where he "had" to open the card in front of you. Sounds like you already had some suspicions.”

I completely agree, Jo (#5). But I wonder if the opposite conclusion is true. She's so paranoid and quick to jump to the conclusion of infidelity, he thought “Why even tell her about Betty? It is a truly innocent friendship, why upset things?” If she's always quick to assume the worse, or is controlling (eg making him open the card in front of her), she's probably pushed him away from being honest with her.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Casey
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:01 AM
“obviously there's more to this than the letter states, because you put him in a position where he "had" to open the card in front of you. Sounds like you already had some suspicions.”

I completely agree, Jo (#5). But I wonder if the opposite conclusion is true. She's so paranoid and quick to jump to the conclusion of infidelity, he thought “Why even tell her about Betty? It is a truly innocent friendship, why upset things?” If she's always quick to assume the worse, or is controlling (eg making him open the card in front of her), she's probably pushed him away from being honest with her.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Casey
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:01 AM
ohh :( Sorry for the double post!
Comment: #22
Posted by: Casey
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:14 AM
Casey if that's the case why would he be keeping the card with notes on Betty's contact info with him? An innocent person living with a needlessly paranoid spouse gets rid of that crap because they don't want to hear it.

I still say a woman sending a card to a married man in a non-professional manner (which this was) and not mentioning his wife is grossly inappropriate and disrespectful to their marriage.
Comment: #23
Posted by: wkh
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:17 AM
Re: Jenna / LW1

So, when a marriage is in trouble, your advice is to stop doing anything and everything around the house and hope the guy sees the error of his ways and comes back to his passive-aggressive, bitchy and insecure wife?

There's no right or wrong answer here because we don't know. LW1 does seem like she's overreacting, but there may be so much more going on that's not in the letter. Counseling, open communication, or a PI is what they need.

Re: Jo / LW2

A "generous" tip on that amount is about $80-100. I would not want to be on the hook for $100 because chef OFFERED you dinner because of a terrible experience (which must have been really bad). $100 is about twice what I pay on a nice night out with my husband all included (tax, tip etc). IMO it would have been nice for them to tip, but not required. A free "apology" meal should not come with strings attached.

A more appropriate course of action would be to treat the meal as a gift and send a thank-you card to the chef and the restaurant staff, thanking them for the great food and wonderful service, and assuring them you've been raving to your friends. Then let the chef take care of compensating the wait staff.

By the way, everyone, tips are not required, so stop treating them like they are!
Comment: #24
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:26 AM
What a pleasure to read BTL without every other post being a lecture from or a post about the personal problems of Lise. Refereshing. The BTL was supposed to be about the letter writers, Lise uses it as her personal .let me give sage advice column. If people wanted to get advice from lise, let them wright to Lise.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Bloom Hilda
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:33 AM
@Zoe, well, tips may not be required but if the service is good, they certainly are expected. While I agree that they certainly aren't required if service was bad, everyone should realize that restaurants are allowed to pay servers a wage that is below the minimum wage rate because of the *expectation that the difference will be made up in tips*. This makes it pretty clear that providing tips for good service is a cultural norm in the U.S. Maybe "required" isn't the right word, but certainly "expected" -- again, unless service was bad.

Also, if you have any intention at all of being a regular at a restaurant, it's just really self-defeating not to tip. It's rarely a mistake to tip well if the service was reasonable.

In the scenario of the LW, Zoe, why should the servers essentially be punished because of a screw-up they weren't involved with? If they didn't have to wait on the LW, they could be waiting on regular customers who WOULD normally tip them. So the servers, if the comp meal didn't provide for tips, would lose money that night, and that's not fair either.

I would hope here that, if the couple didn't tip, that the management would have chipped in to provide comparable tips to the waitstaff -- if not, this is a very raw deal for the servers for something that wasn't their fault in the first place.

@Paula, income from tips is REQUIRED to be reported for taxation purposes, so any server receiving an income from tips and not reporting it is breaking the law. In addition, tips are usually split among the waitstaff, bartenders, bussers, etc, so even at a "high scale" restaurant the individual servers aren't seeing as much of the tip income as you might think.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:38 AM
LW1: Arrgh, this is one of those letters it's so hard to read between the lines of.*** Either Bill and Betty are sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, and Bill is all furtive ‘n' stuff because of that; or else LW's paranoid vibe gave Bill the heebie-jeebies and *that's* why he's all furtive ‘n' stuff. It could easily be either, and I think the Annies should be required by law to have a nationwide detective agency on retainer. (sulks)

On the one hand, “We didn't socialize with any of his co-workers, so I didn't know them well.” So why *would* he have mentioned Betty to her? Also, “He put Betty's card on display with the others” doesn't sound like a man trying to make Betty disappear from LW's awareness. Furthermore, I can easily see keeping an ex-colleague with whom I was friendly on my Yule-card list. Finally, “I saw his old briefcase, and inside was Betty's card.” Meaning, one can't help but think, she opened it and went rummaging.

On the other hand, I would probably address the card to Mr. & Mrs. Bill Colleague. Also, “I want to trust him. I've never had reason not to, but I'm shaken to the core. Now I pay close attention...” suggests this is new behavior for both him and her, so something has changed; something may be up. Finally, the contents of the card, as reported by LW, do sound rather like somebody communicating in heavy-handed code; somewhat like: aitchteeteepee colonslashshash dubyadubyadubyadot

My only suggestion to LW is way too late: If you'd been quicker on your feet, you might have said, “A luncheon date with your old friend Betty? What a wonderful idea! I have some shopping I need to do downtown; why don't you call her and set a time and place, and we'll drive in together and have a nice chat with her over coffee or something, and then I'll go shopping for an hour or so and let you two catch up. I'll pick you up when I'm done shopping and we can stop by Daughter's/Son's/Grandkid's/Great-Aunt Irmintrude's house on the way home; such a nice family outing for both of us.”

Talk about a buzz-kill.

*** Me and Churchill, boy howdy: great minds.
Comment: #27
Posted by: Khlovia
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:39 AM
#25, Bloom Hilda, it's really unfortunate that you have to keep posting these off-topic posts that have nothing to do with the letter writers. It's becoming quite a habit with you -- isn't there another forum somewhere else you could go to if you really have to keep posting these off-topic posts obsessed with Lise? Just a thought.
Comment: #28
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:40 AM
Re: LW3: Yes. Report abuse. Just do it. It's not only the law, it's the decent thing to do. You don't have to collect proof beyond a reasonable doubt to make a phone call; that's the pros' job. Don't want to get “involved”? Probably the child doesn't want to be “involved”, either, but doesn't have any choice in the matter.
Comment: #29
Posted by: Khlovia
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:53 AM
I went to lunch and had personal conversations with a male co-worker, and don't see anything wrong with that. My husband didn't like it, but I told him that I didn't hide it, and think males and females can certainly have platonic friendships. If fact, he's said many times that he can relate to women better than men. So he just had to suck it up and accept it. But LW1's husband lied about throwing the card away, and that is the problem. He said he didn't mention the lunches because they were insignificant, which may be true, but the wife says he never mentioned Betty AT ALL. If he talked about male co-workers but not Betty, he lied by omission and was intentionally hiding their friendship.
Comment: #30
Posted by: C Meier
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:59 AM
LW1 - "He put Betty's card on display with the others, but I asked him to take it down since it wasn't sent to us as a couple. " Really? That's a tad petty. If I were married to you I'd have an affair too. I have a feeling you've been a challenge to live with. Listen to your kids. They know you both pretty well.

LW2 - Tip the waitstaff that served you and yeah, it would have been a hefty tip but that's the nice thing to do.

LW3 - I'm always baffled by people who witness evil and just sit by going "tsk, tsk" while they stroke their pearls. I wish someone could've helped you out.
Comment: #31
Posted by: Rick
Wed Mar 7, 2012 7:04 AM
Oh Khlovia, you make my day!

wkh - I'm old-fashioned too (above the waist) but I happen to know that men and women CAN be "just friends" - not that it's a norm or anything. One of my dearest confidants is a married man. We go out to lunch, we go out to dinner ( sometimes I even pay) we hug when we meet, and you know what? There is nothing - NOTHING - that is threatening to either of our spouses. The key is, and we've even talked about it, that we're not attracted because we're not each other's types. If he were my type, I wouldn't be having so much fun with him because I'd avoid him. Same for him. We're both 100% faithful, and 100% dear friends.

BTW, Bill has a crush on Betty, Betty has a crush on Bill, Khlovia's suggestion for LW1 was exactly right, but too late. Maybe she should have called Dave to ask "Have you seen my husband?"
Comment: #32
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Wed Mar 7, 2012 7:15 AM
OMG! I just realized I didn't tell my partner who I went to lunch with yesterday. I need to do that post haste. Oh wait. That's right. He won't care because I'm a big boy and can go to lunch with whomever I please. Whew.....
Comment: #33
Posted by: Rick
Wed Mar 7, 2012 7:19 AM
@wkh: You make a good point. Clearly, he wants to continue a friendship (or possibly relationship) with Betty, despite his wife's feelings. Even if her paranoia and (possibly ungrounded, possibly not) suspicions have led him to feel as though her feelings are invalid, because she's going to be mad regardless, then they have some major issues that need working through. Or he does have feelings for Betty, has disregarded his wife's feelings and will continue to see her, which means, again, there are some major issues they need to work through.
Comment: #34
Posted by: Casey
Wed Mar 7, 2012 7:21 AM
Re: Mike H

Agreed, tips are expected, and I tip a standard 10-15% if service is adequate (depends on the type of service - buffet vs served, that sort of thing), but I will happily tip 0-5% if service is bad. My tip reflects the service provided and I don't tip an automatic 15% to a crappy server.

What I don't agree with is equating a lack of tip as a punishment. A tip is an extra, a bonus, a gift, a "thank you" for a job well done. I know the whole thing about lower minimum wage for servers but honestly that is not my problem. I would rather pay more for the food to compensate for fair wages but because it doesn't work that way, I do tip almost always. But it's still not a punishment not to tip, just like it's not a punishment if someone doesn't get you a wedding gift. And it's not okay to provide a lesser service for a non-tipper. I have to believe it all works out in the wash!

The servers in this scenario are representing the restaurant / chain that is providing a free meal to apologize for a bad experience. Any compensation the waiters get (other than their salary, which they are still receiving) for waiting on ONE two-person table, ONE TIME should be provided by the host of the meal, i.e. the chef who is treating the couple to dinner. IF the couple wants to tip - and it would not be inappropriate by any means - they should not feel obligated to tip 20% on $350, either. I would say it's MORE unfair to the couple to tell them "you had an awful experience, we'll treat you to a delicious and lavish meal at our expense, but please bring $80 with you so you can tip the staff". THAT would be a punishment - I bet the original meal cost less than $80.
Comment: #35
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Mar 7, 2012 7:28 AM
LW1: I have worked with the same group of people for 10 years. I am a happily married female. I have happily married male friends here at work and we do have lunches together weekely. We discuss may different topics. Our marriages or spouses are not the topic becuse that would then cross a barrier of TMI. However it one of these guys would retire or move to a different position I would miss them and I'd probably be stupid enough to send a Christmas thing you have to understand not all male/female friendships have devious results. Lighten up and don't create a situation that isn't there. Betty may very easily been like me, just a friend...aubsolutely nothing else.
Comment: #36
Posted by: commentator
Wed Mar 7, 2012 7:36 AM
Re: Nick

Thank you Nick for taking the time to research this information. Very interesting!
Comment: #37
Posted by: Kelle
Wed Mar 7, 2012 7:56 AM
@Zoe, that's true as well, that the couple being comped shouldn't be punished either -- it's one of those situations where the management should have been much more clear about the expectation of the dinner.

Still, waiting on one two-person table that is engaging in a $350 meal is a not-insignicant amount of time for the servers, and if the host of the meal isn't providing the equivalent of a tip for the servers, then they are being "punished" too -- and again, for a problem that they had no hand in.

Hopefully the manager of that restaurant is savvy enough to compensate the servers in some way if a tip was not left.
Comment: #38
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 8:31 AM
Oh, and @Zoe, what I mean by the lack of tip as punishment is that if these servers had the choice to serve a regular table, they would likely get a tip for doing the exact same amount of work that they are doing on the comped table. So by taking the comped table and not getting a tip, they are indeed being punished economically.
Comment: #39
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 8:32 AM
Re: Mike H

That's part of working for a larger organization, though.

Because tipping isn't mandatory, who is to say that the other table they could have served that night would have tipped anyway? Sure they probably would have, but they might have tipped 10%, 5%, or not at all. The might have ordered $80 worth of food, been twice the hassle, and tipped 15$.

Having worked as a server in the past I will say that the table that tips 0$ is made up for by the table that tips 25%. That if your tips don't make up for your lower-than-min-wage income, the employer MUST pay you regular min wage. And that if someone had a crappy experience at one of our restaurants, I'd have done my best job and not have expected them to pay ME for the "privilege" of being treated to a "sorry-we-effed-up" meal.

I did have coworkers who were focused on who tipped how much, and they were generally greedy about everything else, too.
Comment: #40
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Mar 7, 2012 9:00 AM
LW1 -
Recently retired men are highly vulnerable to an affair, because many of them are bored and feel disaffected. A woman's interest relieves the boredom and is a boost to their flagging ego. Shameless hussies know that.

Yes, of course, men and women can be friends and be strictly platonic about it, but then they have nothing to hide, as several posters illustrated with their own examples. Any activity involving a married man and a woman who is not his wife, that not only excludes the wife, but is conducted in secret, becomes suspicious just because of that. And that's the clincher here: if it's so innocent, then why the secrecy? I'm with Michelle and Barbara B on this.

LW1, get yourself a PI or devise other ways of collecting evidence. If you find nothing, great, and then let it go. But I think you will. That's when you should confront him and suggest marriage counselling. Even if is turns out to be a full-blown affair, the marriage can survive it, but both spouses have to work hard on it.

LW2 -
I'm with Paula - the waitstaff in an upscale place like that is not doing that poorly. I might add that it is highly unlikely that they be students - such an upscale place will only hire top-notch pros for whom waiting tables is a career. Highly skilled people with a lot of experience and impeccable references. And it's normal, at the price they're charging for a meal, they need the best of the best, the stars in their field. Students are much more likely working at the buffet.

This being stated, they still should be tipped, but it should be at the owner's expense, not the guests - especially in a place where the high expense of the meal makes the tip skyrocket. Personally, I couldn't afford a "freebee" like that and I'm hardly the only one.

LW3 -
Any adult witnessing child abuse should report it. Period. Because the child needs to be protected.

@Barbara B
I don't know what kind of abuse you were subjected to, but I'm very sorry you went through that.

Unfortunately, even reporting it doesn't always produce good results because the right thing being done for the wrong reason and with the wrong methods can produce opposite results.

Let me clarify with some examples:
a) Finding adoptive parents for abandoned children is the right thing to do. Looking at only their financial situation as an acceptability criterion is the wrong method with the wrong values.
b) Placing abused children in a foster home is the right thing to do. Not looking too closely at what kind of people they are because you're desperate for foster homes means some of them will do more harm than good.
c) Becoming a social worker at the service of the community is the right thing to do. Becoming a social worker because you're a judgmental busybody and social work gives you a "professional" excuse to stick your nose in people's business and tell them how to live is the wrong reason.

If you mix up a), b) and c), you end up with horror stories. I know a few people who were adopted as infants - not all of them got good homes. People putting themselves on the list of available foster homes can be pedophiles seeking access to children. If they're not properly investigated beforehand, the children removed from their home for abuse end up being molested on top of everything else - seen that.

And if the child complains, it may fall on deaf ears because the social worker is a busybody who's always right and it's taken for granted the child is screwed up, seeking negative attention and lying. Seen that too.

So, yes, your aunts should have done something - ideally, report it and offered to take you in, so you don't end up with strangers. That would have been the right thing to do. But... especially at the time this happened to you, chances are extremely high that being placed in a foster home would have just compounded the problem. The point I'm making is that, while whoever witnessed you being abused was extremely wrong to just look the other way, pat yourself on the back for the fact that you managed to survive, and turned into a fine, strong, well-adjusted, productive person.

I sure hope child services are better than they used to be. But I'm not seeing any indication of that. Still, if I witnessed abuse, I could not stand to just stand there and do nothing, I would report it, in the hope that the child be luckier with his foster home than with his bio parents.

Comment: #41
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Mar 7, 2012 9:06 AM
Totally agree with all the posters who say Betty is a threat to the marriage, and that LW1 has a serious problem on her hands. And to all the inevitable posters who say that it's OK to have lunch with another person and that she should stop being so possessive and paranoid; well, that would be the case if he had been honest with her about his so-called friendship. He wasn't. He didn't mention it to her (kind of odd if they were up-front with each other about everything else), and he lied to her about getting rid of the card. Never mind whether it was a big deal or not, if he was dishonest about it, that's a red flag. This woman's instincts are telling her something is wrong. Instinct is usually correct.

Poor LW1. She'll be criticized no matter what she does. If she tries to get to the bottom of this issue, she'll be told "Oh you're paranoid. It's not that big a deal." If she ignores it and later finds out he's having an affair, she'll be told, "You idiot! Didn't you see the signs?" Damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess.
Comment: #42
Posted by: JMG
Wed Mar 7, 2012 9:41 AM
What the HELL did they eat that the bill came to $350 for two people?? I know they said it was the expensive restaurant, but good lord... Even if both their entrees were like $40-$50, and they had an appetizer, dessert, and a bottle of wine... $350 still sounds like a lot! I'd expect an enormous lobster sitting on a brick of gold for that price.
Comment: #43
Posted by: Alexandra
Wed Mar 7, 2012 9:50 AM
Re LW1 - just a theory here, because this one is very difficult to read between the lines.
1. Betty has a crush on husband, always has, and is testing the waters to see if and how he'll respond. I mean, it's not abnormal to send a card just to the person you know (though it would be appropriate to include the wife and write a separate message to the friend), but to not include a return address and to write a fairly intimate message? She's got an agenda, in my opinion.
2. Wife put husband in a position to HAVE to open the card in front of her. This suggests to me that she's previously been suspicious or she is just one of those naturally jealous women who sees a threat every time she turns around.
She says they have always talked about everything, but how much of this has been Q and A - or interrogation? She made husband take the card down, she expected him to throw the card away. This again says suspicious or very jealous and controlling.
And to top it all off, she's not talking openly to her husband! Why the hell not? After 43 years you really should be able to broach uncomfortable subjects, and you should really know the best way to communicate with your spouse in order to get the maximum amount of true information.
3. Husband put the card on the mantle. This suggests he wasn't hiding anything. But he also said he'd throw the card away, then hid it AND had written the number on it. This suggests that he was saying what needs to be said to calm wife down and that he doesn't feel he can be honest with her about his female friendships - though I tend to think co-worker always had a crush and this fed his ego, which says to me that he really shouldn't pursue a friendship, even a casual one.
That' being said, this is theory only, and I have to apologize to the LW if I read to much into this or if there was pertinent information cut out of the letter. Additionally, if the husband is having an affair, stalking him and treating him with suspicion is not going to change his mind. If people are intent on having outside relationships, they will find a way, and PI's and all that other tracking crap will only send them deeper into hiding, or provide a forced end (and who wants a man that didn't cheat cause he had no choice? - just my opinion.
Comment: #44
Posted by: kristen
Wed Mar 7, 2012 10:02 AM
I don't understand why tips should be a % of the cost of the meal. The server works just as hard whether I order the $10 chicken or the $50 lobster. The "appropriate" percentage keeps going up and up. Since restaruants no doubt increase prices to at least keep up with inflation, than the percentage doesn't have to increase in order for servers to get a "cost of living raise".
Serving one couple and getting a $70 tip is ridiculus since servers would also be waiting on other tables who would in most cases also be leaving tips. Three tables an hour at even $200/table would be $120 in tips if they all left 20%. People in extremely difficult and/or skilled jobs don't make anywhere near that much. Maybe you're charged that much for a plumber, accountant, etc., but that's not what the employee is getting paid. If you're the owner so what you charge is "your" money, you also have a ton of expenses to pay out of it, so it's not like you pocket that much, like servers do.
I waitressed, so I know it's not all that difficult. We bussed our own tables, did the dishes, etc. Big deal - what's wrong with working for your pay. I often made $10 in tips working for three hours at a hometown cafe in the '70's. Add that to my wages and it was pretty good pay for three hours in those days.
Large parties should leave larger tips because the servers are probably constantly at the table bringing them drinks and/or not able to wait on other tables, but 20% on a $1,000 tab, even if they are there two hours? Too much.
I eat at less expensive places often leave more than 20%, because I base it on the amount of work and the servers skill, not the cost of the meal.
Comment: #45
Posted by: C Meier
Wed Mar 7, 2012 10:33 AM
LW1—“"Bill" and I have been married for 43 years.” Really, does any more need to be said? In spite of your obvious insecurity, your husband has stayed with you for a very long and I would wager the two of you have had a very productive and happy marriage. You so much as say so yourself if not in so many words. So what if your husband had lunch with a colleague who was also his friend. You said yourself that you didn't socialize with your husband's coworkers and didn't know them, so why would ‘Betty' have thought to address her holiday card to both of you; she only knew your husband and her friendship was with him. If ‘Bill' truly didn't think he was doing anything wrong, then why would he mention the lunches with Betty at all, especially if you were so indifferent about his coworkers? If your husband knows you as well as I think he does, then maybe he knew the mere mention of his having lunch with a female would make you have kittens! Apparently his instincts were correct. If Bill did eventually hide his holiday lunch with Betty, then your extreme reaction, jealousy and insecurity were probably the reason why. My advice to you is to forget this holiday card, the lunches and Betty and let it go.

LW2—It's good manners to always tip your servers regardless of what proper etiquette says or who pays the tab. These people worked hard waiting on you and make very little in actual wages; they should be tipped accordingly.
Comment: #46
Posted by: Chris
Wed Mar 7, 2012 10:36 AM
@C Meier, the recommended % tip has been between 15-20% for a while now, so it hasn't really increased. The cost of living has since the 1970s, though, so of course servers should make more in tips than they did back when you were a server.

Also, in most restaurants, the server doesn't get to keep 100% of their tips; rather, they are pooled and then split with the other members of the team, like bussers, bartenders, the cooks, etc.

Serving varies in difficulty depending on the clientele and the establishment.

You should, of course, leave a tip based on what you are comfortable with -- but if someone is having a $1000 meal, they probably are a little more "high maintenance" than someone going to Applebees for a $20 meal, and so I don't begrudge the servers an appropriate tip in that case. Servers in such restaurants also tend to have fewer tables so they can give more personal service, so they don't tend to have the same volume of tips that you did in your small hometown cafe.

Serving the public is often a thankless, difficult job.
Comment: #47
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 11:18 AM
@ Jo
Your idea of a voice-activated recorder is great, and reminded me of a couple I know who were going through marital problems. The man was sure his wife was cheating on him, so he placed a voice-activated recorder in the couple's minivan before she went to work waitressing at a local bar. He ended up with an earful! Not only was she cheating on him, but was using the minivan instead of a motel room, and his recorder caught it ALL on tape. Mind you, he is a heavy drinker, and acts like an ass most of the time...but I digress.
Thanks for digging up that information - I hate to ask, but do you have any idea about Canada's history regarding same? If you don't, no worries.
I, too, hope that the system is improving, but a recent story in the news doesn't make me think so. Jessie Sansone, a father of two, was arrested, held in custody, strip searched, his house searched, his children taken away by social services, and his pregnant wife forced out of their home, for, get this, a crayon drawing made by his 4 year old daughter of her daddy scaring away monsters with a toy gun. And that's exactly what the cops found in his house - a Nerf gun. He was released eventually, and his kids returned, but social services is keeping an "open file" on the family, and no apology is in sight. Sad state of affairs.
Comment: #48
Posted by: Barbara B.
Wed Mar 7, 2012 11:23 AM
@Alexandra, just out of curiosity, I went to the Smith&Wollensky Steakhouse website, and priced out two salads, two appetizers, and two entrees -- choosing the most expensive of each I could find -- and got to $180, pre-tax, with no alcohol of any kind nor any dessert.

With a bottle of wine or two, and two desserts, I'm sure that could get to $250-$300, and I know there are more expensive restaurants in New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Heck, I probably didn't even choose the most expensive restaurant in New England, but it was the most expensive one I could think of.

Now, is the food REALLY that much better? Or are people paying for the experience and exclusivity and the attention of a much more highly trained and responsive waitstaff?
Comment: #49
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 11:28 AM
TIPS= "To Insure Proper Service". Tips are not an entitlement. They are a bonus for exceptionally good service.

Now before everyone thinks I am being mean or a scrooge, let me assure you I am not. I happen to own a pub/restaurant in Key West. My menu is priced by what I have to pay for product inorder to make the meals on the menu. I have servers and bartenders that are paid above the minimum wage for servers and bartenders.

When I have had in the past, servers who complain about the size of a tip that was left, my first question to them is, "Did you give the best service you could or the bare minimum?" Of course the answer is always, "I went way above and they were so demanding..."etc. My response has been, "Well while you may have thought you did a great job, the patron didn't." Here is a news flash...You are paid to provide a service and if you do an excellent job, are friendly etc. patrons will usually leave a tip. But a tip is NOT mandatory. I have told more then one previous employee who complained about a tip that if they needed more money, then they needed another job.

It is not the patron's responsibility to see that your bills get paid. It is however, your responsibility to provide great service.

TIPS= "To Insure Proper Service..i.e., a bonus in addition to what you are paid for doing a great job.

Comment: #50
Posted by: Broom
Wed Mar 7, 2012 12:30 PM
Mike - I'm certain that someone having a $1,000 meal is MUCH more high maintanence, epecially since I was referring to parties where there are often many drinks ordered, appetizers, dessert, etc. If it's a party of 10 and they order what the two in the letter did, it would be a $1,750 ticket, which would mean a tip of between $262.50 and $350.00 based on 15% - 20%. I just cannot justify that being an appropriate tip based on what other people that work just as hard or harder make. Also, since that kind of price would mean it is a swanky place, and they do hirer the best of the best as servers, they are probably paid a good wage to start with.
You said "The cost of living has (increased) since the 1970s, though, so of course servers should make more in tips than they did back when you were a server." But like I pointed out, the cost of meals increased a lot, so they would be making more in tips even if the % didn't increase, since 10% if $30 is three times as much as 10% of $10.
If people feel it's right to leave that high of a tip, fine. Just don't slam me if I don't, especially when I often leave an even larger percentage at a less expensive restaurant. You made a point not to do this, Mike, which I appreciate, but a lot of people do.
Comment: #51
Posted by: C Meier
Wed Mar 7, 2012 12:42 PM
Re: C Meier, "The server works just as hard whether I order the $10 chicken or the $50 lobster." I never thought of it that way. You're right.

LW1, Having him take down the card because it came only addressed to him was very telling to me and speaks volumns about the relationship. Then dragging the children into it? What do you suppose she told the kids? (adults by now) Why would anyone ask their children what to do? I'm sure they've heard it all before,"Drop it Mom!" Whether he had/is having an affair or not Betty is looking better by the minute. Running an errand for 2 hours doesn't seem excessive to me, but then I daudle. Accually 2 hours is a pretty small amount of time to leave go meet Betty, order food, eat, chat, take his viagra, get a hotel room and get back home. Getting out of the house away from the snoopy wife seems like a more likely to me. I don't think she needs a PI - she is one. "And all for the want of a horseshoe nail!"
Comment: #52
Posted by: Penny
Wed Mar 7, 2012 12:52 PM
Anyone who thinks 2 hours isn't long enough to go meet Betty order foot eat chat take viagra get a hotel room and fool around hasn't ever had an affair. And that's probably what's colouring the responses here. People who have had affairs or been cheated on see the possibilities, people who haven't shrug and assume the best. Yeah no way this side of hades would some woman's card to her former coworker aka my husband full of blather about missing their special lunches and never once mentioning "hope your lovely wife is well" be hanging in my home. Oh hell to the no. I know exactly what the kind of special attention to the precious male ego is all about. No way. Not buying it. And if he was a husband interested in preserving and respecting his marriage, he would have actually gotten rid of the card, not hid it with her contact info on it.

I'm betting a good deal was cut out of that letter.
Comment: #53
Posted by: wkh
Wed Mar 7, 2012 1:00 PM
Re: Barbara B.
My sentiment exactly. That story you're retelling illustrates exactly what I'm talking about - a bunch of busybodies hugely imbued with their great power and very busy pulling rank, regardless of whom they hurt.

Comment: #54
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Mar 7, 2012 1:00 PM
You have an image in your mind of Bill making goo-goo eyes at Betty and this is causing you to feel unloved, regardless of what is actually going on. It is time to discuss this with your husband. If you have been married for 43 years, you have a lot of history that can't be undone in a hurry. Talk with him - with a counselor if necessary and rebuild the trust between you. Worrying, imagining and talking to your children instead of Bill will only drive you further apart.
Comment: #55
Posted by: Word A Day Mate
Wed Mar 7, 2012 1:29 PM
@C Meier, nope, I won't slam you for your opinion -- if there were really hard and fast rules about tipping, there's be no need to have different opinions on this issue!

One twist that I forgot to mention is that for many larger parties, the gratuity is automatically included, and I believe at a lower percent oft-times. So that you could be extra generous if you chose, but you could also leave nothing at all, because the server would still get that automatic tip.

Here's my own personal take on tipping, which I don't think should be a mandate by any stretch, but I will say has worked really really well for me over the years. If I'm at a restaurant that I regularly go to (or if it's the first trip but there's a chance it could become a regular hangout), and the service rates between good and great, then I'll tend to leave approximately 20% on the pre-taxed bill.

I do this for a few reasons:

1) 20% is easier to calculate off the cuff than 18% or 16%, and for whatever reason I'm just not a fan of pulling out the calculator app on my phone when divvying up a bill.

2) I figure that the average server on the average night is going to have one or two tables that tip low or don't tip at all, so I don't mind tipping on the higher side to make up for it.

3) Since my group rapidly gets a reputation at our regular restaurants as "good tippers", we *always* get fantastic service. The experience is so positive that it's well worth it. It's a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

I tend to go out to eat once or twice a week on average, occasionally more during special weeks, because my group of friends has a standing Friday night get-together. The restaurants we choose rotate among 4-5 that we all tend to like and are almost all non-chain restaurants, but we'll often try a new restaurant if someone hears of something opening up. Poor service is certainly a major reason we don't return to a new restaurant, and good managers will make sure they keep their servers happy if they want my repeat business.
Comment: #56
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 1:52 PM
@ wkh

While your points are valid I have to wonder if LW1 would have even given the card a second thought it it were from a male colleague. Why is it (and I'm asking sincerely) that women feel so threatened by another woman befriending their husbands? I mean honestly, what's the difference? I regularly go to lunch with male and female colleagues one on one; we discuss intimate details of our lives, our relationships, our problems, etc. I also have received holiday cards from some of these coworkers that were addressed solely to me and my partner didn't bat an eye. I have no desire to sleep with these people; we're good friends, nothing more. My guess is that 'Betty' idolized LW1's husband, perhaps viewed him as a mentor figure and bonded with him over the years. After 43 years of marriage I find it highly implausible that this relationship was anything other than platonic. Sure, it was an intimate relationship but I think it's okay for spouses to form such relationships outside of their marriage. The LW is coming off as extremely paranoid and overly insecure. She can't handle her husband having a female friend. It's plain and simple and she's having a nervous breakdown thinking about the possibilities. While I do agree that a long heart to heart is in order, I also think the LW needs to step back and put things in perspective.
Comment: #57
Posted by: Chris
Wed Mar 7, 2012 2:34 PM
Golly, some people here aren't 'old fashioned' as much as they are narrow minded and suspicious. If people say that men & women "can't be platonic friends", that is better translated as "I myself would never have a member of the opposite sex as a platonic friend; if I don't have to have sex with them, I'm not interested".
If Betty wanted to have an affair with Bill, I can't imagine she'd start it by something as detectable as sending a holiday card to his house where his spouse could easily see it and get her PI working on it. It would be much better to email him or contact him via facebook or " just happen to" run into him somewhere. The LW sounds pretty possessive & controlling to me; right or wrong, that would drive me to secrecy just so I didn't have to explain every detail of my day. I think a key detail is that she wouldn't let him display the card with the other cards because it wasn't addressed to her, too. How petty & insecure is that - he can't even display a card from a friend in his own home. The LW says she & hubby always tell each other everything so why doesn't she tell him - and not their kids - about this? It's pretty low to go behind someone's back and tell his children that you think he's a lying cheat. Plus I guess she thinks some of what he says is actually a lie since she feels the need to interrogate him and double check his answers. Suggest the LW tell her husband what she's thinking and feeling and see what's happening. If he did reconnect with Betty & says it's innocent, they should all go to lunch together.
Comment: #58
Posted by: kai archie
Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:06 PM
Broom, I'm not in the restaurant biz, but I do like knowing where words come from. Your theory: To Insure Prompt Service as the origin of TIPS is incorrect -- although people do like that catchy little acronym. The Oxford English dictionary verfied this with an etymology.

I live in city that's probably on some server's top 10 list for "Worst Tippers Ever." My daughter was a server for several years here, and also a hostess, and it's very common practice for the tips to be split, as Mike H. said. Also, in high end restaurants, the servers are taking care of fewer tables per night than their counterparts at Denny's, so factor that into calculations.

Comment: #59
Posted by: hedgehog
Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:27 PM
By-the-way, why would Bill display the card from his mistress for all to see if he were having an affair? Certainly not with Mrs. Nosey around. And making him open it in front of her? I am guessing if he is involved with Betty he would have recognized her handwriting, said "thanks dear" when handed him the card and walked away to open it in private. If he opened in front of her he wasn't concerned that she saw it. When I am handed mail I don't stop and open it immediately. Hmmmm, something smells fishy here and it ain't Bitey.
Comment: #60
Posted by: Penny
Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:28 PM
I personally hate the practice of tipping; waitstaff, barbers, hairdressers, etc. should be paid fair wages by their employers and the price the businesses charge for their services should be enough to compensate them. And automatic gratuity? Don't get me started on that one! It's like walking into a retail store, buying a bunch of items, and the store owner telling you he has to add $10 to your bill so that he can pay the cashier.

And LW1's husband has either A) previously had an affair with Betty, B) is currently having an affair with Betty, or C) would like to have an affair with Betty.
Comment: #61
Posted by: toypixie
Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:48 PM
Re: Mike H
You don't need to get the calculator out to figure out 18% or 16%. For 18%, you calculate 20% and then substract 1% twice. For 16%, you calculate 10%, then add half of that, then add 1%. You can all do that in your head easy-peasy, and the more often you do it, the more you'll pick up speed.

"Why is it (and I'm asking sincerely) that women feel so threatened by another woman befriending their husbands?"
In answer to your question, I would say that millions of years of women having to compete for the best providers have taken a toll and there is some atavistic imprinting still present in women's make-up, with some instinctive reactions as a result. Just like the suspicion towards anyone unfamiliar is a normal reaction all babies go through at some point, these are things that are deeply ingrained but can be successfully worked on on a conscious level. There is a matter of personality involved also, with some women more possessive and/or suspicious than others.

And, in terms of even today's context, I'm afraid that, in my humble experience, the proportion of people I have seen who are truly, genuinely capable of having a platonic relationship with a member of the opposite sex are still the in minority. Not the exception - but the minority nevertheless. If you add to this equation the fact that the great majority of men are quite vulnerable to sustained female attention, especially past a certain age, the suspicion is not without grounds as it is statistically very often quite justified.

And BTW, thank-you-thank-you-thank-you for your help. I did everything you said, including calling my server to configure it. I had to talk to three different people, but the last one was finally able to help, and that's even though I apparently unwittingly downlodad the latest version still in beta version, and my server's tech people didn't have any documentation to support it and he had to play it by ear. But now my e-mails have started arriving in my inbox and I sure hope they continue to do so without problems. A gazillion Thank Yous again!

Comment: #62
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Mar 7, 2012 4:15 PM
@Lise, you're neglecting to consider the fact that by that time of the night, I'm one or two cocktails in... ;-)
Comment: #63
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 4:22 PM
I'm not sure where you got the idea that "To Insure Prompt Serviice " is my theory, as I never said it was my theory or that it was even my definition. Not to mention I wrote "To Insure Proper Service" not "Prompt". I also don't get your snark. Is there a particular reason you felt inclined to prove your knowlege base on etymology? Because, there is most ddefinately more than one etymology as to the origin of "T.I.P."

For Instance, I was taught that particular version of TIP when I was in Chef school...Today after I read your snarky response, I googled the origin of tipping and here is what I found...

:The origin of tipping is lost, like so many things, in the Mists of Antiquity. There's evidence that tipping goes back at least to the age of the Romans, but human nature being what it is, it could just as easily date from the invention of money.

Luckily for us, etymologists have managed to come up with a selection of deeply fascinating etymologies for the phrase "to tip." The dullest and most likely has it coming from the Latin stips, meaning "gift." In the days of Geoffrey Chaucer and Middle English, "to tip" meant simply "to give"--as in "tip me that cheate" ("give me that thing"), immortal words penned by one Samuel Rowlands in his 1610 Beadle of Bridewell.

The most charming explanation refers us back to the days of Dr. Johnson and his eighteenth century circle of wits. Upon entering his local coffeeshop for a session of epigram-flinging, Dr. Johnson (or rather, one presumes, his flunky, Mr. Boswell) would drop a few pence in a box labeled "To Insure Promptness" ("T.I.P."--get it?) in order to encourage a greater display of vigor on the part of the generally listless attendants".

So according to multiple definitions of "TIP" be it "To Insure Prompt or Proper Service", the whole point of it is simply this...a tip is a gift, not a is by the graciousness of the patron to leave a bonus gift of a tip to the server for doing a great job. It is by no means an entitlement which many servers seem to think. That they are entitled to a tip regardlesss of how well or not they performed their dutie when infact they are not entitled one bit..

I will thank you in advance, that if you wish to challenge me in the future about posts I may make, to mind the snark and read it carefully before attributing something to me that I did not claim, in this regard, the origin of TIPS, which I will also point out to you the the Oxford dictionary is not the be all and end of of sources to quote and determine what is right or wrong.
Comment: #64
Posted by: Broom
Wed Mar 7, 2012 4:23 PM
Re: Mike H
Only one or two? You should be able to handle such simple calculations then. But that too, comes with practice! ;-D

Comment: #65
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Mar 7, 2012 5:00 PM
@Lise, unfortunately I've turned into a bit of a lightweight in my 40s... ;-)
Comment: #66
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:40 PM
Hear, hear, Mike H.! I raise my wine glass (#2) to you!
Comment: #67
Posted by: Casey
Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:47 PM
LW1: What you've described doesn't necessarily sound like he had an affair, but he probably became very close to this person at work. We all have a good friend at work, and she might have been his. It's possible he thought of her as one of his guy friends, but there doesn't seem to be any real evidence of an affair. I've gotten, and given holiday cards to former male coworkers, and I dno't necessarily write their family's name on it, because I don't know them at all. I only know my former colleague, who also became a friend.

If you are suspicious, come out and ask him if he had an affair with her. You could be right, but think things through first. Has he lessened his affection for you? Does he sneak out at night? One single time that he ran into a buddy, doesn't mean he was meeting this woman. I don't want to dismiss your feelings, on the off change you could be right, but I'm just saying, from the little you've presented, there seems to be little there.
Comment: #68
Posted by: Salty
Wed Mar 7, 2012 7:47 PM
Chris, keeping in mind I am writing this from a heteronormative perspective, since that's what the letter was too, to put it bluntly I find other women threatening because my hussband isn't gay.

I have no desire to be the LW from the other day who was struggling to make ends meet and give her kids the best while their father was enjoying beach front vacations with his new wife and HER children. I prefer my husband's sexual, financial, and romantic energies be focused 100% solely on me and our family. I will tolerate zero intrusion. You may have noticed I am a rather demanding partner (grin) but he's equally so! I've been there before on all sides of the equation and know how a little "mentoring" in the boardroom more often than not leads to the bedroom. 80% of marriages experience infidelity. Maybe because of our foolishness all the way around from every angle we came close to losing all we valued most.... so no we're not very kind on hidden opposite sex frienships around here. Note the word hidden. We both have opposite sex friends (in fact my husband's very best friends are females) and they are well aware of and known by each other. That's what friends who are respectful of our marriage do. The women who were all buddy buddy with my husband and barely knew me? Yeah funny that every one of them ended up in bed with him, go figure!

But since you bring it up the only friend I have ever banned for disrespecting me/our marriage was actually... a man! He treated me like an annoying little sister who was a bump in their bromance. He didn't respect my husband was a married man. He was rude to me in private, in public, and was a rather foul asshole. Eventually I told my husband if he ever communicated with this jackhole again for any reason other than to tell him to cease communications he could move out. I actually walked out of a marriage counselling session over this, it was my hill to die on. The guy is gone now. And hates me even more. And I don't care. I no longer have to deal with him being around my husband. You don't have to like me to be his friend but you damn well have to be civil and polite.

Do I think men and women can be friends? Absolutely! But IME it's the woman who decides that... and sending some married man a mushy woo card is a sign she hasn't decided that, sorry. How many times do women write some stupid letter here and say "my former boss's wife is upset we have lunches together. He's retired and we get together for drinks. I just feel good around him! He really understands me! We're not doing anything wrong are we if we keep lunching and don't tell our spouses?" Please. Talk about denial.
Am I paranoid? You bet. Because I know how easy it can happen.
Comment: #69
Posted by: wkh
Wed Mar 7, 2012 8:49 PM
Re: Mike H
So have I in my 50's, at least compared to what I was at the university, where I had a reputation and nobody could drink me under the table. ;-)

"It's possible he thought of her as one of his guy friends,"
You're right that this is entirely possible, but I get the impression that Betty feels quite differently. What she wrote in that card sounded... a little too personal. And, even if HE starts out with perfectly innocent intentions... if the woman is relentlessly after him, given that he's recently retired, ageing, bored, feeling useless... chances are extremely high that she'll eventually get what she wants. Not a good bet.

Comment: #70
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Mar 7, 2012 9:30 PM
@Casey, cheers!

@Lise, indeed, although the flip side is that it's now cheaper for me to have a night out as compared to when I was in my early 20s and 5 or 6 cocktails were more the norm.

@wkh, on a more serious note, heteronormativity aside, the best comparison for gay men would be whether or not gay men in a relationship can maintain friendships with other gay men without sleeping with them -- and we certainly can. I have more gay friends that I haven't slept with than gay friends that I have. I think it's entirely possible for men and women to maintain a non-sexual friendship, but I'll COMPLETELY agree that keeping friendships secret from your spouse is a Very Bad Thing To Do.
Comment: #71
Posted by: Mike H
Thu Mar 8, 2012 6:38 AM
Re: Mike H
"I'll COMPLETELY agree that keeping friendships secret from your spouse is a Very Bad Thing To Do."
AND an indication that the "friendship" is more than just that.

Comment: #72
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Mar 8, 2012 6:52 AM

I'm with you; men and women have to be very careful about friendships because of sexual attraction. That is very strong in most people and you have to consider it.

Comment: #73
Posted by: jar8818
Thu Mar 8, 2012 7:02 AM
@Lise, well... not necessarily. It could be a sign of other problems in the marriage, though. A man married to an overly paranoid woman might start to keep secrets from her for no other reason than he doesn't want to get involved in another ridiculous unjustified argument. (Something we've actually seen in the letters before, I believe).

Not in any way suggesting it's GOOD, mind you -- but that keeping secrets isn't automatically an indication that the friendship is more than just a friendship. But that the secret-keeping IS a warning sign that something is amiss in the relationship, absolutely.
Comment: #74
Posted by: Mike H
Thu Mar 8, 2012 7:37 AM
Again, my post has been eaten by the posting monster. I've had it. Even if this goes thru
I'm done. It's too hard.
Comment: #75
Posted by: Samantha Kimmel
Thu Mar 8, 2012 7:49 AM
LW1: Based on your version of things I would say its completely understandable that your husband is lying and or cheating on you. Marriage doesn't equal ownership. You are not one entity. Get some therapy.

LW2: Your wife is cheap and will be waiting tables in hell.

LW3: I think some people truly don't want to get involved while others are afraid they'll make things worse.
Comment: #76
Posted by: Diana
Thu Mar 8, 2012 2:22 PM
Broom -- no snark intended. I just frequently see people claim that this was the origin of the word -- To Insure Prompt Service or To Insure Proper Service, and it wasn't. For one thing, unless you are taking out a policy, you don't "insure" anything, you "ensure" it. (I'm going to ensure you realize this post is meant for you by putting your name at the beginning.)

I can see that people in the hospitality biz might want to think of it that way as a means of training their employees to think of a tip as a reward instead of an entitlement, because the employer, and not just the employee, benefits when the guest receives good service. It's a clever way to remember, but it's not the meaning of the word. .

And the result of your Google search, even though you didn't cite the sources, even backed up the Oxford dictionary:

Luckily for us, etymologists have managed to come up with a selection of deeply fascinating etymologies for the phrase "to tip." The DULLEST AND MOST LIKELY has it coming from the Latin stips, meaning "gift." IN THE DAYS OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER AND MIDDLE ENGLISH, "to tip" meant simply "to give"--as in "tip me that cheate" ("give me that thing"), immortal words penned by one Samuel Rowlands in his 1610 Beadle of Bridewell.

The most charming explanation refers us back to the days of Dr. Johnson and his EIGHTEENTH CENTURY circle of wits. Upon entering his local coffeeshop for a session of epigram-flinging, Dr. Johnson (or rather, one presumes, his flunky, Mr. Boswell) would drop a few pence in a box labeled "To Insure Promptness" ("T.I.P."--get it?) in order to encourage a greater display of vigor on the part of the generally listless attendants".
I'm not jumping on you, or snarking or anything of the source. As I said, I enjoy knowing where words come from. I get that not everyone does.
Comment: #77
Posted by: hedgehog
Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:23 AM
I have NEVER had any good experiences in so-called fancy restaurants. The food was hyped so much that there was no way that it could live up to the expectations. The atmosphere is usually crowded and noisy that I've developed headaches before the food is served. And the wait staff always seems to be actors who used the emoting method when placing my order. I truly find my happy meals at McDonald's.

$350 for one meal? That's my grocery money for two months. You bet I wouldn't tip either!
Comment: #78
Posted by: TheRichcraft
Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:41 PM
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