Recently the New York Times explained how hard it is to live on $500k a year. Twice! Now the paper reports: nobody's paying for business lunches any more! Is this just a made-up thing? Yes.

After all this time it still is quite amusing how the Times, the biggest, most anal-retentive stickler for accuracy and propriety in real news, will just toss out fake trend stories based on premises that a reporter dreamed about, or thought about while high, or was told about in bed by a spouse who was dreaming, and high. Today: Take a recession. Add one part common sense, sprinkle a little "business angle," and mix with class anger, and voila! Hey, it's so awkward nobody has money left to pay for business lunches! Checks across Hollywood and Midtown Manhattan are simply lingering on tables for hours untouched, before all parties rush out in a mad dash. Even when people do deign to pay, etiquette dilemmas abound:

For those lucky enough to have jobs, meals with colleagues who recently lost theirs can bring a new social dilemma. Do you pick up the check? And if so, do you submit it to your company for reimbursement or does it come out your own pocket?

Yes and yes. Duh. Luckily, creative flacks have invented a thing called "coffee."

Now, grabbing a cup of coffee is a welcome compromise. First, it avoids the awkwardness of a reporter's having to pay for an expensive meal. And it allows for Mr. Thonis to maintain crucial relationships. Best of all, it costs less than $10.

Wouldn't you actually love to have someone ask you to a business lunch, only to try to ignore the check when it came, just so you could bore holes into their shameful, penny-pinching souls with your accusatory laser eyes? That would be awesome, but it never happens. So basically people are eating out less, or eating at cheaper places, but if they do eat out, somebody still pays, but still, this was all an interesting and worthwhile look into the intricacies of the mysterious, shifting corporate culture of Trendpieceland. [NYT]