I have noticed some pretty underhanded behavior recently with regard to eating and paying. Sure, this doesn’t deal with theft per se but it is evidence of an overall lack of tact, and I want to see who agrees with me on this.
I have an acquaintance who is a member of a large (10-15ish) group of my friends. We spend an inordinate amount of time with one another, and most weekend days and some weeknights this group ends up in one diner or another eating breakfast, lunch and/or dinner together.
Since there is a relative parity among the cost of diner food, the standard accepted (and by this I mean for three years) way of divying up the check is as follows:
- Hand check to me, saying, “You figure this shit out.”
- I add 20% of the total to the total. I divide that total by the number of people eating.
- I say, “Everyone’s share is (amount). Pay up.”
- Each person hands over that amount, takes change as needed.
- Wrap the money in the check, hand to the waiter/waitress.
Now, a couple weeks back, I am in the group and this acquaintance (we’ll call her CAG for “cheap-ass grifter”) is also in the group, but she’s WITHOUT HER BOYFRIEND for the first time. I’m putting the check on my card and everyone is giving me cash. The per-head share is thirteen dollars, which I announce in the traditional manner.
CAG hands me a fucking TEN and says, “Here, I think this is what I should pay.” I look at her blankly. I show her the check. She begins to question the tip amount (whether the tip should be on the pre- or post-tax amount, whether the waitress earned it, etc.) and then the old “who ate what” thing. I don’t want to get into it with her, as the night is young, so I just say, “OK, you can give me the rest later.” She shoots me a look, but wisely lets it drop. Here are my problems, and boy am I steamed.
Most importantly: when her boyfriend is in the group, he pays for her, and she has absolutely no problem seeing that he ponies up two shares. In fact, when I have announced the shares, she has said to him, “You have (2 x share), right?” So it’s not the method of calculation that’s got her up in arms.
She’s a waitress herself. I don’t think she would characterize a 20% tip (especially on groups as large as ours get) excessive. I know she wouldn’t because she’s complained about groups that large giving her such a “small” tip before. So it’s not the tip amount that’s got her worked.
So it’s about the money. She mentally committed herself to spending ten bucks before the meal started, ordered what she wanted, and then got antsy when her share came to be more than what she wanted to spend. So she tried to find a morally acceptable way to get out of it, but, as you can see by points 1 and 2, she had none. Now, here’s why I’ll never eat with her in such a setting again:
If you’re only committed to spending a certain amount of money- only order what’ll fit that. Going overboard and then expecting to have your slack picked up by someone else is slimy.
If you think that what you want to spend is going to be less than the per-head share, either (if the anticipated share is 50 bucks and you have six bucks) DON’T COME OUT, or (if the anticipated share is 13 and you have 10) say, "I might be short. Got three bucks? (Mind you, she had plenty more money in her wallet.)
People like this get under my skin. A lot of times there’s almost a sense of entitlement to it. “I have a shit job and you have a good job, so I can sit and eat what I want and you can pick me up.” No, I can’t. Or maybe I won’t. One way or the other, it’s not gonna happen. I have a good job. I have friends who have GREAT jobs. Eight times out of 10, when they invite me out, I feign sickness or promise to join them after dinner because I can’t hang with them and don’t want to put them on the spot. If I want one of my friends to come out in a situation where they might not be able to keep up, I will invent a reason to thank them or I will just tell them that I want them to come and buy them dinner, but I sure as shit don’t EXPECT this to be done for me, and people shouldn’t EXPECT that I do it for them. If you think the fact that you’re less economically stable than me entitles you to reach into my pockets, too bad.
Here’s what I, in a consequence-free world, would have said:
“Either you pony up the three bucks or you can wait here until I go to an ATM and get the cash to pay only my share. Now, I see the disgusted look on your face, like, ‘why all this hate for three bucks?’ and I’m here to tell you that I’m disgusted with you because if it were somebody else’s three bucks you wouldn’t have a problem with it. And don’t even open your mouth to ask me whether our friendship is worth three bucks because it’s obvious that your integrity is not.”
I won’t eat with her should her boyfriend not be present again. Should I be unable to avoid this, I will use any means necessary to ensure a full-share payment, including leaving my share and walking out.
Three bucks. Get a fucking grip.