A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with a newer girlfriend who I had not dined with before. She chose the spot; I just went along. I should preface this whole story by noting that I am pretty much of a cheap ass when it comes to dining out. Not because I don’t want to spend any money – just that I don’t want to end up paying for food and drink that I didn’t eat or order.
When my friend and I sat down and opened the menu, I went into cardiac arrest. It was an upscale sushi restaurant but I was unprepared for the prices. I didn’t realize I was going to pay for the chef to actually fly to wherever, catch the fish, fly back and prepare it for me. I was flipping out. Particularly when my friend started firing off items to the waitress. Because I have had bad experiences in the past, I was nervous that I would order a $5 bowl of edamame and pay $100.
I am talking about the issues of splitting a bill. As I have come to learn in my life, there are occasions when splitting a bill means that the person or people you are with order many more drinks, expensive appetizers and entrees then you do then decide it’s easiest to just split the bill. No, no, no. Not so, not at all. Not no way, not no how. Of course it’s easier on them as it’s easier on their wallet. But cheap as I can be, I don’t want to pay for everyone else.
I’m sure that everyone at one time or another has encountered a bill splitter. Often times it’s when there is a large lunch or dinner group when someone secretly figures that since there will be only one check, they can over order things they normally wouldn’t, then it will get absorbed into the bill. Once the bill arrives and someone says lets just split it, that person is all too willing to keep silent about that extra 2 or 3 glasses of wine on the bill and that cappuccino they had to have.
When my husband and I were about to get married, we were saving for our honeymoon. We were having dinner with three other couples. We decided ahead of time to each have a drink and a reasonable entree. We didn’t want to appear cheap but we needed to be conservative. The other couples ordered surf and turf, numerous drinks and desserts. For the two of us we owed around $30 including tax and tip. We paid $70. I had that gagging feeling when one of the wives announced we would just split it and I couldn’t speak. I was kicking my husband under the table, hoping he would say something. His macho pride took over and he remained silent. We had 2 chicken breasts and 2 glasses of wine. Pricey.
The anticipation of this happening has spoiled many a meal. The way I see it, no one should ever assume that their dining partners can and should pay for their food and drinks. When you are out with a work group, pay what you owe. When you are out with another couple, pay what you owe. When the check arrives, look at it. Pick out the items that you ordered, add them up, add tax, add your portion of the tip and PAY WHAT YOU OWE. I am not beneath whipping out my IPhone calculator and adding it all up. Tacky? Maybe. Do I care? Not at all.
Wait staff may get annoyed but you can always ask for separate checks. If there are 20 people that may not be possible. Just don’t be the person that ducks out to pee when the check comes up short and extra money needs to be put in.
My meal with my girlfriend was spoiled because I let this issue worry me the whole evening. It was childish but I didn’t know what to expect. When the check came, I quickly took possession, added up what I owed and told her what I was paying. My share $40. Hers $80.The cost of that meal? A whole other blog.