Friday, December 26, 2014

Bob Dunning: Go wild, the next guy will pick up the check


From page A2 | May 08, 2014 |

“Welcome to Danny’s Davis Diner, ma’am. My name is Lucas and I’ll be your waiter this evening.”
“Nice to meet you, Lucas.”
“Are you dining alone tonight?”
“Yes I am, thank you. I’m just passing through from Tillamook and getting to know the town.”
“Tillamook? Is that far away? I’ve never been outside the Davis city limits myself. The sun rises and sets here, you know.”
“Tillamook is in Oregon. Way up north.”
“Do they have light rail there?”
“No, most people drive pickup trucks.”
“Yes, We all rely on Portland Gas and Electric.”
“Well, welcome to Davis. Can I start you out with something to drink?”
“Yes, um, there’s a nice pinot from the Willamette Valley I’m particularly fond of and …”
“It’s Will-lamb-it, dammit.”
“Please watch your language, ma’am. This is a family town.”
“OK, but how about that pinot?”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we’re strictly a farm-to-fork operation here. If it wasn’t raised, grazed, grown, sown, baked, barbecued or butchered within 30 miles of Davis, we won’t serve it.”
“No Copper River salmon?”
“No Tillamook cheddar?”
“No pinot?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“In that case, I think I’ll just have the crumpets and a cup of tea.”
“Fair enough. The crumpets come with locally sourced strawberry jam and the tea is made with dandelions from Rochelle’s front lawn. The water for the tea is a special blend of boron-infused deep well water and pesticide-free runoff from the Sacramento River.”
“Lovely. By the way, who’s Rochelle?”
“She’s our head chef. Nothing comes out of our kitchen that she hasn’t personally approved. She’s back there training Brett and Krow right now.”
“That’s just what we call him. Some people think he looks like a crow.”
“Can I bring you more tea? You went through that first pot pretty quickly.”
“No, actually, I think I’m ready for the check.”
“Here you are. That’ll be $101.69.”
“$101.69 for tea and crumpets? There must be some mistake.”
“Oh gosh, I should have explained our billing policy here. The $101.69 is not for what you ordered. It’s the bill for the party of six that was at your table previously.”
“But, but …”
“Yes indeed, they did order up a storm. A pitcher of margaritas made with locally grown John Meyer lemons, smoked trout sliders from Putah Creek, sliced and diced sugar beets with pistachio paste and two servings of our dessert specialty, a scoop of Yolo Polo Tomato Ice Cream on top of warm and luscious hackberry cobbler.”
“But that was their order, not mine.”
“That’s right, but under Danny’s Davis Diner’s unique billing system, you basically ‘rent’ your table by paying for the last person to use it.”
“But that’s not fair.”
“Quite the contrary. It’s completely fair for everyone. Even a Yolo County judge has signed off on it.”
“But you can’t charge me for food that was consumed by someone else when I was still on the road here from Tillamook.”
“It’s the only way we can guarantee enough income to pay for our recent expansion. It’s called the CBFR. Certainly you must have heard of it.”
“Yes. The Consumption Based Food Rate. You pay for what the previous table ‘renter’ consumed, and he pays for the ‘renter’ before him and so on. And the next person at this table will pay for your tea and crumpets. It all evens out in the end.”
“It may even out for you, but …”
“That’s the whole point, ma’am. It evens out for us, even if it’s unfair to the occasional customer.”
“I’d like to see the manager.”
“You mean Pink? He’s gone. He left for a job in Lake Tahoe the day before we instituted the CBFR.”
“I think I’ll probably just go back to Tillamook.”
“That’s fine, but we’ll need that $101.69 before you go.”
“That’s outrageous.”
“Maybe next time you’ll be more careful with what you order.”
“But my bill has nothing to do with what I ordered.”
“That’s your problem, ma’am, not ours.”

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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