Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Top Tip: Take Change

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Top Tip: Take Change

Article excerpt

Byline: gary BAINBRIDGE

OWING to an early morning appointment near my place of work, and an early afternoon start at my place of work, I found myself with a couple of hours to kill.

I suppose I panicked a little, overwhelmed by the freedom, and decided that I would find somewhere to have breakfast. There was no money in my pockets because of a last-minute trouser rethink. So I found a cash machine and withdrew a PS10 note, because I am not afraid of ostentatious displays of wealth.

The cafe was one of those wooden ones they have these days, in which everybody behind the counter has a beard and/or tattoo, and you have to pay for your meal before you have it, just in case.

At the counter, I ordered a full English breakfast - without beans because I am not a barbarian and beans have as much place on an English breakfast plate as Nutella or pine cones - and a cup of normal tea.

It was considerably less than PS10, but I am stupid and forgetful, and when the man behind the counter suggested I pay, I handed over my card. Before I remembered I had actual paper money, he had made a contactless payment with it, so I went back to my table and waited for the grub in question.

It arrived and I tucked in, enjoying the single sausage and field mushroom - I prefer field mushrooms; they are more honest and street-smart than desk mushrooms - and a number of horrible realisations coalesced into a single cringe, like Superman crushing in his fist a piece of coal into a diamond.

First, that I did not have any change because of my late trouser rethink and my forgetfulness at the counter. Second, that I am not a rich man like Paul Daniels or the Barefoot Contessa's husband Jeffrey, and so am never going to give a PS10 tip for a PS9 meal.

And third, that this was the sort of establishment where the staff say goodbye to customers as they leave, and the tip jar is on the counter.

The breakfast turned to pine cones in my mouth. I forced it down, and worked out my plan of escape. I was going to have to wait until every member of staff was engaged with a customer and race out of the door. …

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