Tipping Sara

“No, Sara…nooo!!” I cried, again and again, as one by one the text messages came in.  I followed her progress intently, her movements visible only by the breadcrumbs she left on my phone.  I visualized her path, serpentine by my way of thinking.  Unstructured.  Purposeful but inefficient.  Now north, now west, then north again, only to go south immediately thereafter.  It would not have been the route I would have chosen.  It was neither sequential nor, to my mind, logical. 

But still the messages came in, unrelenting, unsettling, disquieting.  It is not easy to watch as things spiral out of your control.  Another hand on the rudder, another voice shouting as your ship tacks to and fro without you even being aboard.  It is the lack of control that drives you crazy.  This is action that you yourself have confidently undertaken more times than you can count.  You are good at it.  The results certain.  Dependable.  Pleasing.

“No Sara,” I cry again as the fatal text comes in.  Each previous text was a small incision, a mere papercut.  But this last is a slash to the juggler.  I winced when Sara had substituted another brand of hot dogs for my beloved Ball Park Beef Franks.  I whimpered when the Kraft deluxe mac and cheese was replaced with the store brand basic.  I cried when the chicken breasts were refunded, and I wept unashamedly when the family pack of T-bone steaks suffered the same fate, the fact that the Dinty Moore stew had survived unscathed being meager solace.  But now I am inconsolable. Devastated.  Stricken with a sadness the depth of which I may never escape.  I hold the phone in my hand.  The text stares back at me.  Tauntingly.  Remorseless.  The loss too painful to countenance, I look away.  The Breyers cherry vanilla ice cream has been refunded.  Life no longer has meaning.

And then the phone chimes again with one final, incongruously cheery message.  “Fry’s is on the way!!”  And now I am left to make the decision.  How much do you tip a woman whom you have never met, who may be saving your life, but has destroyed your will to fight on?