46 thoughts on “May 21, 2021: Not Great”

    1. I wonder who gets bumped.

  1. My stepmom will be having surgery at Mayo today for a cancer discovered subsequent to a routine medical exam two weeks ago. Since it was discovered after a regular appointment, we hope that means it’s been detected early, but won’t know until after the organ’s biopsy. Two things:

    - Don’t put off your exams. Whatever exam is appropriate for someone with your biology, age, & family health history — take it. (Universal access to this type of care shouldn’t be a question given the wealth of our country, but I know we have a long way to go yet to get there.) Get your tests done. Please.

    - For the first time in over a year, I’m working somewhere other than my basement. This feels very strange. (I’m out to fill in for her; she’s the primary caretaker for one of my younger brothers.) I’ve also doubled the amount of people I’m responsible for cooking for (no sweat), but we eat radically different diets. (Very typical Midwestern-Central European descendent fusion for them, and “I really don’t eat enough goat.” for me.) This will stretch my creativity and their palates. A good challenge for all of us, I hope.

    1. Sounds like you're having a good attitude to the tough circumstances. Wishing you and your family the best.
      Maybe I'll go schedule that quintennial physical.

      1. Maybe I'll go schedule that quintennial physical

        Had mine yesterday. Went about as well as can be expected, except for the aforementioned covid-taste issues.

        1. as well as can be expected

          Yes, I've always felt like an idiot going in to talk to someone I've never met about health issues I (blessedly) don't really have. Nothing to find until there is, though...

          1. someone I've never met
            It has been nice, being in outstate, that we are able to consistently see the same provider. Plus, with Philosofette's memorable appendix issues a couple years ago, it's actually kind of fun to go into the doctor and have them continue to marvel at the mind-blowing (her words!) medical history of your family.

              1. Update, actually scheduled an appt. With the same guy I saw four years ago, even!

        1. I have an appointment in June to see the eye doctor. Last time was about 23-24 years ago.

          Yes, I do pay for VSP, why do you ask?

    2. Thanks for the good wishes, folks. She’s in recovery and the news is encouraging; sounds like it was indeed Stage I. Here’s hoping she’s on the road to full remission.

  2. Good article I read on disenfranchised grief. TLDR; acknowledge your grief, whatever it is, and don't compare it with other people's grief. It all matters, and we all need each other.

  3. National Waitstaff Day! "hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort?"

    zooom, et al...I've been meaning to ask (for a year or so) for citizens' thoughts on tipping for takeout. The norms here are ambiguous.
    Pandemic-lens, go big wherever possible, certainly. But what do waitstaff think about it, equity-wise, for relative effort of the task as compared to handling orders and taking up table-time?
    I find I'm inconsistent based on type of takeout and relative ease of throwing a tip on my order.

    1. I've asked the same question and it's all over the map. I usually round up to a number that close to 10 percent on takeouts.

    2. Before COVID I usually didn't tip on takeout. During the pandemic I've been tipping 20%. Even if it less work, most are underpaid and they've been putting their lives at risk for me.

            1. This was, I think, part of the question. If I throw a tip on an online order, who gets it, and is it fair? I assumed some common distribution under the circumstances.

              I also think there have been some places where I was expecting a “tip” option in the order process, but didn’t see one. I’m thinking Starbucks; maybe this was on in-store transactions.

            2. This. When I was in college, I was a fry cook and one of the waitresses was a good friend of mine. I found out that she was making about 4 times what I was making because she was getting tips and I wasn't. I mean, I cooked the meal. How is that worth 1/4 of what the waitress did?

              1. I was a busboy for a year in high school, there were usually 3 or 4 waitresses and me (plus the hostess) on any given night and I got a 10% cut of the tips. On a good Saturday night that was more than I earned in wages. Other bonus - the bartender was not reluctant to sell me a case of beer out the back door after work.

    3. I have really conflicted feelings about tipping. Because it's the industry/society norm and because I appreciate service workers I tip. But because tipping is a Jim Crow relic and in many ways is just a matter of consumers subsidizing low wage jobs, I'm really opposed to tipping in a big way. I'd rather the workers get paid a fair, living wage and employers set their prices accordingly. I really, really dislike the step n' fetchit mentality of tipping.

      1. Tipping is a great illustration of the social compulsion that underpins a lot of exploitation & injustice, as well as expectations of entitlement. Don’t want to be a pariah? Better toe the line of How We Do Things. Don’t think the person making less than minimum wage deserves 15%? Let’s talk about whether you think gratuity means “I appreciate you for taking care of my needs today.” or “You should be grateful I’m giving you 15% instead of nothing for ‘doing your job’.”

        Ever since I got my first kitchen job, it’s been interesting to me to see which workers business/society chooses to classify as working for tips for survival, which can be tipped in appreciation for doing their trade, and which are almost never tipped out of either appreciation or compulsion.

        1. Yep, all that. I've had arguments with my mom when she doesn't tip or leaves low tips due to bad service. Had to explain to her that that person may be getting starvation wages and she should tip if she's using that service so that they can make a living, not because you're rewarding them for being good to you.

    4. Sorry I missed this discussion yesterday, as I was out celebrating Kent Hrbek's birthday. A lot to unpack here. To answer Zee German's original question. Pre-pandemic, I tipped 10-15% on take out that I pick up at a restaurant. 15-20% on food delivered to my house. 15-30% in a full service restaurant. During the last year I find myself tipping 20-25% on take out I pick up as I know my industry has been hurting.
      Bigger picture conversation. My industry is broken in a way. Costs of doing business have grown faster than the prices we charge. I blame some of it on the chains like Applebees. For some dumb@ss reason, they have spent the last 15 years using value discounting as a way to draw more people in. As a result, restaurant menu pricing has stayed low since these same big chains pretty much set market price in a lot of communities. That is slowing changing with the trend of guests running away from chains and exploring new independent concepts. Hopefully this pandemic helps our industry re-set our pricing structure.
      In terms of wages, tipped restaurant workers are better off in Minnesota than most states. With no sub-minimum wage for tipped employees, a good server, in a place like mine, can make $20K+ in wages, and another $20-$40k in tips while working a flexible schedule. It is in the back of the house (kitchen) where nation-wide we are broken. I have just finished a 6 month period in which my average kitchen hourly wage has gone up about $5/hour. I have moved some great line cooks from hourly wage to salaries between $40K and $50K per year. (based upon a 40-42 hour a week schedule. If they work more hours, I bonus them more money. I have adjusted my pricing a fair amount and have banked on the theory that keeping my awesome kitchen staff and spending on a big remodel, will push sales high enough to pay everyone much more fairly and still yield us acceptable profits. My sales in Feb - May are up 40% over 2019 despite limited seating. I think my plan is working.
      The unfortunate thing about my industry is that a lot owners, or companies, are not top-line sales driven like myself, but bottom-line penny pinchers. Managers are constantly berated for high labor costs. So the incentive for many of them is to underpay as much as possible. Cut shifts. Keep people under the benefit threshold. (I worked for a company that instructed us to track hours and if someone is close to averaging 30 hours a week, we needed to cut their hours to keep them out of the benefits pool). I am part of several facebook restaurant owner groups, and most of these owners have such an adversarial relationship with their employees. It sickens me.
      My wife and I decided 6 years ago that we would do our part to break these industry norms. The first 3-4 years I wasn't sure it was going to work. However, we are now in a spot that I am very confident this business model works. In a nutshell, if I pay my people well enough for them to live a good life, I will attract better employees. As a result, our performance will be much better, which makes people more willing to spend more money at my joint.
      My personal feeling on tipping? I like the system in which I, as a customer, can tip my server or bartender based upon my experience. What I hate about it is the non-tipped employees behind the scenes working their butts off for pennies. THAT is the thing that needs to change. I am probably the only restaurant owner I know who supports a higher minimum wage. Solely based upon my joint, I would support bumping minimum wage to $15/hour right now, with a tip credit that keeps tipped employees at $10 or $12 an hour. Then tie it to inflation on an annual basis. This would result in high school hosts and busser making enough money to save for college or trade school. Adult staff would all be able to make $40K + per year. This would also force everyone to adjust their pricing to where it should be.

        1. "By exploiting the workers! By 'angin' on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society."

        2. Not a big fan of "big" water, so not yacht needed. Wouldn't mind a little fishing boat.

      1. Zooms, thanks for this.

        I wish the industry norm for management practices were in line with yours. My (low-information) sense is that lots of higher-end places and a few family-ish businesses value staff continuity and development the way you do. But that the industry is dominated by penny-pinching chains and independents run by short-sighted, poor managers who don't value their staff, instead seeing labor as merely a cost to be minimized. Which probably helps explain the high turnover (business starts and stops) in the small business sector and the mediocre experience offered by so many chains.

        1. No, we don't have unlimited breadsticks! brianS, one thing I do when I eat out in other towns. I ask staff if they enjoy their job and ask about ownership. It's amazing how you can get a straight answer from staff. I then use the info to make my next dining choice. I try to be loyal to businesses that are great employers.

  4. I've asked the same question and it's all over the map. I usually round up to a number that close to 10 percent on takeouts.

    1. In the Before Times, I rarely tipped on carryout. Now I am tipping 20-25 percent on the logic that it is helping my favorite places survive. I have no idea what I will do after "return to normalcy."

  5. Kiriloff and Dobnak called up by Twins. Bailey Ober and Ben Rortvedt sent down. So the Twins now have 6 outfielders (including Arraez) and Astudillo is now the only backup catcher. It will be intersting to see how Rocco divies up playing time. Kiriloff and Larnach need regular at-bats wherever they're playing. However, Arraez has always led off against RHP when he was healthy. We might actually see regular rest for players.

    1. With Astudillo as the backup, that presumably removes him from starts in the infield. I’d guess Larnach will start in a corner most days, and Kirilloff might shuttle between the outfield and first depending on rest days for Cruz or Sanó, a particular matchup, or judiciousness with his wrist. I’d still expect to see Arráez in the lineup most days in some capacity, but it seems he’s back to being the Tovar.

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