Pennywise & Pound Foolish

If you are not in the mood for a rant, please don’t waste your time reading this 🙂

As the old saying goes “Pennywise and Pound Foolish”, which means someone is always looking to save a penny but then loses the bigger gain.  A perfect example would be my father, who, in his defense, grew up during the depression of the 1930s (I was not born till he was 40, so you can do the math).  In any case, in the 1980s when the price of gasoline rose drastically, he would drive a mile out of the way for gasoline that was 5 cents less per gallon, completely defeating the purpose saving any money at all.  Another example would be if the supermarket charged my mother .10cents more for a yellow onion because it was rung up at the register as a white onion.  Sure, the supermarket was only a mile away… but for .10cents was it worth the gas, effort and time to get back the dime?  Or was it principle? Who knows.

So, today I was on the road all day.  Out at appointments, running around, I wanted to get to church since its Ash Wednesday but my older friend called to ask for a favor. He is more of an uncle, and is going through chemotherapy.  He needed a ride to the doctor because he was having problems with his eyes and his children were at work and already took time off this week to take him to other doctor’s appointments.  I could not say no.  So, I rearranged my schedule to help him out.  But I am not telling this story as an excuse to not get to church, not have lunch and/or not have time to cook dinner.  The real point is, I just wanted a hot meal, it couldn’t contain meat and eggplant sounded good since I had pasta yesterday.  So, I called one pizzeria, they were out of business, which is a shame because they were there for at least 30 years.  So then I called the restaurant closest to me and told them I wanted an appetizer and an eggplant parmesan sandwich.  However, I asked for half a sandwich which is still big enough for two people.  I told him I wouldn’t eat the whole thing and it would go to waste.  He said ok.  So I get there and he tells me it is $17.81, which seemed odd for an appetizer and a sandwich, half a sandwich no less. And, just for the record, the appetizer cost more than the sandwich though it costs less than half money and effort of what it takes to make the sandwich.  Remember when the most popular items were cheaper and only special orders were more expensive?  When did that change? I guess around the same time people in the food industry said “everyone orders this 95% of the time, so charge them double, we know they can’t pass it up at any cost, so we can charge them whatever we want, $11 seems like a fair price for something that costs us $1”.  With staff, maybe $2?  I think I am even being generous here since it takes 1 minute to fry .50 cents worth of calamari and no direct participation from the chef or cook.  Set timer, make the sandwich, timer bell rings, both are done.  Most people might not know this, but I do, which is why it makes me all the more resentful.

So, I did notice that the sub was smaller, by about 25% and I looked at the menu again and typically the two items together should have been $19 plus tax.  He brings me my change, so the meal cost $18 since he rounded it off in his favor (maybe for sales tax)?  Either way, I guess his knocking $1 off the $8 sandwich was his idea of “half”.  So why didn’t I say anything?  I guess I was dumbfounded and before shooting my mouth off I wanted to look at the menu prices again, plus, I had an entire day of “agita” (stress, traffic, aggregation, curveballs), I had a headache from not eating, and wasn’t about to get a sour stomach over what would have amounted to only $3 – I don’t need the $3, it cost me triple that gas and tolls to do an ill friend a favor.  I just wanted one decent meal today since it was my one any only meal of the day.  The only thing working in my favor today is that for Ash Wednesday you are supposed to fast and only have one full meal.

Since I could not make it to church, I figure I kept up my responsibility.  I am sure the Catholic church would agree that me taking an elderly friend to the doctor was more important than getting ashes on my forehead to show the world I am Catholic is a far more better gesture in the eyes of Jesus. Of course, one person asked me why I was not in church today to get ashes on my forehead, and I simply said I had to take a friend with cancer to the doctor.  Not because I wanted to look like a sterling human being of kindness, it was simply just a case of me knowing which was more important.  I didn’t stop to say “well what would Jesus do”?  It was more as if I knew instinctively the Catholic church didn’t need my donation, I had to help my friend in need.

So, aside from venting, I guess this brings me back to the original topic.  Pennywise and pound foolish.  I should have paid full price for a full sandwich and gotten two, and saved the second half for tomorrow’s lunch, but I hate leftovers unless its homemade meatballs and sausage.  I hate reheating and I hate microwaves. About the only thing that reheats well is meatballs since its impossible to over cook, because it was cooking for nearly 3 hours in the first place. If anything it gets better when you reheat it.  Ok, so I wasn’t necessarily being pennywise, I was avoiding gluttony.  I didn’t eat all day and I could have easily eaten a full eggplant parm.  However, this guy at the local restaurant who knows me, knows I am there often.  IN fact, on Foursquare.com I am the Mayor of this Eatery I am there so often.  I know thats just a silly footnote, and someone will replace me as the mayor next week, but it does demonstrate that I am a loyal customer.  But guess what?  I won’t be back there anytime again soon, ever.

Its just like the place directly across the street I wrote about almost exactly a month ago about “So Much for Healthy Choices” (jrcx.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/healthychoicenot) — these people wanted to charge me an extra $1.50 for beans instead of french fries, which is ridiculous since french fries cost much more after freezing, cooking, oil, energy, etc.  So, now to the list of my places to never eat again.  One place lost $12 in business for wanting to charge $1.50 (plus all additional business) and this other one lost all my business for overcharging me $3.  Sure, at the end of the year, that might have only been $100 in business for them more or less, not just in take out, but I do enjoy taking a friend or colleague there for lunch or dinner, and that alone is $50. But I know that they don’t think of that.  They think of the inconvenience of having to fill an order and still make full price during off peak hours (it was 5pm, well before any diners would be rushing in for dinner).  He got his $3, even though giving me a full sandwich would have only cost him .50 cents at most, and at the end of the day, if he does this to enough people, at the end of the year he will wonder why sales are down $2-3,000 – and no, its not all because of the economy, its because those loyal customers who were willing to spend the money in the slowest month of the year, were not treated fairly.  Maybe a restauranteur will read this and say “he’s just a businessman” but people like myself will say he is a bad one.  If he could not give me half a sandwich at half price, he simply should have said “I can’t do it, I still have to charge you full price (or) sorry, we don’t do half orders” – i would have been 100% perfectly fine with that.  And, if the situation were reversed, I would have thrown in a free side salad (a handful of lettuce and a slice of tomato) at the cost of .50cents just to show my appreciation of a loyal customer.

A prime example of “Pennywise and Pound Foolish”.  The good new is, there are 15 other pizzerias in town to get a hot meal from when I’ve had a long day and just want a comfort meal I don’t have time to cook myself.

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