Dear Jeanne & Leonard:
My 92-year-old mother has a part-time caregiver who also has a housecleaning business. Mom pays this woman an hourly wage for caregiving. In addition, she pays her a fee to clean the house. The thing is, this woman cleans Mom’s house when she’s already being paid to be there as a caregiver. To me, this seems like double-dipping. Why should this person get paid for one thing while she’s simultaneously collecting a fee for being there to do another?
— Mary, Sacramento, California
Because she can?
Seriously, of course you’re right, in principle. But the question is, does it matter? Because how this woman bills is of less concern than the total amount of service she provides and the total amount she charges.
If your mother could hire a different caregiver and a different housecleaner and together their bills would be significantly less than what your mother pays her current helper, then you have reason to object. But if your mother is satisfied with her current helper’s care and housecleaning, and if this woman’s total bill is in the same range as what others would charge to deliver these services, why rock the boat?
Dear Jeanne & Leonard:
I meet my friend “Amanda” for lunch every week or so at a cafe that’s convenient to both our jobs. Since I like to pay with a credit card while Amanda prefers paying with cash, I put the tab on my card, and she gives me cash for her share. The problem is, her lunches invariably cost around $11 or $12, but she never has anything smaller than a $10 bill. Since I don’t carry cash, this means that unless I’m willing to get up and go to the cashier for change — a process which can take a lot of time and which disrupts our visit — I’m basically forced to return one of the two $10s she’s given me and tell her not to worry about the couple of bucks she owes. I don’t mean to be small, but I’m sick of being put in this position. I’m sure Amanda isn’t trying to stick me with a portion of her tab; she’s just clueless. But I’m also sure she’d think I was a cheapskate if I said anything. What should I do?
— Alice, Utah
Is there some reason Amanda can’t go to the cashier and get change? It’s her $10, after all, that needs to be broken.
Be that as it may. As much as we disapprove of Amanda’s self-serving cluelessness and as much as we hate to blame the victim, we have to say you’re being mighty stubborn to adhere so absolutely to a no-cash policy when carrying a few small bills would long ago have solved a problem that obviously annoys you. We know, it’s Amanda who’s created the problem. But maintaining a friendship invariably involves some give-and-take, and as give-and-take goes, having to carry a little cash seems fairly incidental — and far better than overpaying for lunch every week.
A final thought: Has Amanda heard of PayPal? Have you?