In which I Pit the poor (overreacting)!!!!

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:

  1. Hand check to me, saying, “You figure this shit out.”
  2. I add 20% of the total to the total. I divide that total by the number of people eating.
  3. I say, “Everyone’s share is (amount). Pay up.”
  4. Each person hands over that amount, takes change as needed.
  5. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Hm. As a poor person I have a problem with the way you divvy the cheque up - by dividing the total by the number of people present. If I only want to spend ten bucks, and I buy a sandwich a la carte, and nothing else, if everyone else orders sandwiches and drinks and sides and desserts then my tab may soon exceed ten bucks - even though I haven’t ordered anything else ! I am so conscious of every five bucks that leaves my hand that yes, I will object if made to subsidise someone else’s two beers. It’s not a matter of “I will eat what I want and you will pay for it,” it’s “I can’t afford to eat more than this, so I won’t, and I don’t want to pay for what I forgo but you eat.”

Perhaps, cowgirl, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the cheapskate’s issue. She starts out with arguing the ~20% tip, including pre-tax and post-tax, and only then gets to the “but so-and-so ordered…” argument. If that was her issue, she should have told HSHP beforehand (since it’s always figured out the same) “Hey, I don’t think I can spend a whole lot this time, I’m just going to order (blah), can I just chip in a maximum of $10 then?” Then he could calculate the check while deducting her $10, say “everyone pays me $14”, and just take the $10 from her.

Plus he said “there is a relative parity among the cost of diner food”, meaning to me that usually everyone orders about the same amount. And she has no issue with this when her boyfriend is ponying up the cash for her and him.

Happy Scrappy Hero Pup: in a consequence-free world, you could have kicked her in the box.

Next time she quibbles over three bones, hand back her ten and tell the waitress the CAG’s picking up the tip. Sign for the check and run like mad.

Well to be honest the whole post glazed my eyes over to the point that the only thing I can remember is that’s a dim way to
divy up the check.

Sounds like you’ve thought about this way too much, I would suggest letting it go.

What a dork!

If she had decided not to spend more than ten bucks when she came, she should have asked for a seperate bill and paid for her own food - from the OP it sounds as if she’s been there before and knows the rutine - what she did was just cheap.


Furthermore, this is the way it’s been done for three years or so.

If the average at every one of those gatherings has been $10 and this time someone ordered the lobster thermidor (sp?) it would be different.

So while I agree that the method has an inherent element of unfairness, it should not have surprised this person. Also, if she had said, “Oh dear! I only have a ten, can someone spot me 'til next week?” it probably would have all gone smoothly.

If a person is somewhat tight on cash*, and they do honestly find that they ordered less than the group, then it would be more logical to ask for a separate check.

I know it could rise up an issue: we all would share the cost but X-person bailed out of sharing. If they were truly friends, they’d understand that person’s reasons.

*I’m not saying that was the boyfriendless-girl’s case.

Well technically no he couldn’t, because that would have been a consequence of her being a tight-fisted little whiner, and the posited world is consequence-free…

As for the OP, I admire your restraint. I think I would have called the bitch out then and there, consequences be damned. She’s a freeloading little weasel who’s more than happy to eat gratis when her sucker boyfriend is there for her to leech off of, yet when she’s suddenly on her own in the cold cruel world she can’t bring herself to follow the rule that’s been established over several years’ practice and tradition. I don’t much care for the idea of “divide the check evenly” over a large group but the point of this gathering is not just to eat; it’s to spend time with a group of friends in a communal activity and as long as no one abuses the process by ordering in amounts excessively above the average share I don’t mind subsidizing an order of fries every so often for a friend. The time for this little freak to object is at the beginning of the arrangement (although those who eat for free are to have their objections given considerably less weight from the get-go), not at the table after the check has been presented and the calculation of shares completed. The fact that she herself is a waitress and would dare to question giving a server a 20% tip on a party of 10+ people is even more disgusting, although if her behaviour here is any indication she’s probably such a shitty waitress that she’s never seen a 20% tip.

She’s a hosebag, a loser and a creep and I hope next time you’re out with that group you tell her unfortunate boyfriend that he has to pay an extra three dollars to make up for Skankie’s cheapass behaviour.

Whew, I thought this pitting was gonna be about me.

Sounds like she needs her own tab - problem solved.

Luckily my groups tend to calculate our actual amounts, rather than check-splitting, but since it’s the established pattern, she can’t claim not to have known what her share would likely be from the beginning.

Personally, if she totalled up her bill and it came to 7 or 8 bucks, then I would not be pissed at her not wanting to pay the $13 - but if we’re only talking a difference of a dollar or so, then that’s different.

And 20% is a good amount to tip, unless the waitress totally sucked, and even then, in a large group, you should tip well.

I agree she was being cheap, but I also think the OP is getting a little too upset over the whole thing.

It’s three bucks dude. Chill. Be the bigger person. To make such a huge honkin’ deal over it makes you look as cheap as her.

Of course, this is the Pit and I realize that a little hyperbole is neccessary for a good rant, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t actually this upset over it. If you are, see my comments above.

If not, rage on buddy. Rage the ever loving fuck on!

I think your lecture scared all your anti-fans off. :smiley:

Well, we’ve done this for so long it evens out in the end.

lezlers, I agree with you. It’s just three bucks. So she should pony up. Even if she was on the short end (which we have all been and in this case she wasn’t), it’ll always come back.

There is some discretion. If there are nine orders of steak-and-eggs and one order of dry toast and coffee, then the toast person isn’t expected to pay a full share. If there are nine orders of chicken soup and one order of lobster, then lobster-person pays more. Most times, toast-person will be told not to pay anything or half the tip, and lobster-person will insist that the soup people only take the tip. We’re friends first and foremost.

And if it’s only three bucks, then why short in the first place? Oh yeah, it’s HER money and not someone else’s.

She should have definately explained the situation beforehand. She should have said “I can only budget ten bucks tonight, so I’m going to order the grilled cheese sandwich and no soda- which with tax and tip should come out to nine-fifty, okay?” You can blame her for that. But as for the rest…

Although you can’t be expected to substidize other people’s entertainment, sometimes you have to make exceptions because the point of hanging out with friends is to have a good time with people you know, not be a fairness machine. If she has special circumstances, she ought to be given a bit of leeway. If her order was indeed worth ten bucks, it wouldn’t be too difficult to say “Hey guys, XXXX paid for her meal, so the rest divides up to YYYY.”

If you truly can’t afford to go out thats one thing (but even the poorest of us can afford a cup of coffee) but you shouldn’t be barred from company if you can’t afford to give up more money than you budgeted and planned for. Some people honestly don’t have the ability to throw three bucks around. If personally had to spend three bucks more than I ordered, that’d mean I’d have to skip my three dollar burrito for lunch the next day. And I get pretty hungry between breakfast coffee and dinner.

And her boyfriend is a non issue. My boyfriend makes about 100% more than me (I’m unemployed) and of course he can afford to take me places I couldn’t go on my own. And he likes to see me have a good time and would feel bad if he couldn’t treat me to at least as much as he is having. But I also have to go out on my own someitmes. And when I do that I have to stay within my tiny means.

But don’t get me started on my friend who consistantly says "Oh, well may share is $6.75, and then pouts when you remind him that his share is $6.75 before tax and tip, and that extra money isn’t coming out of nowhere. He’s independently wealthy to my unemployed as well…

If this has been the tradition for so long, she should have known what to expect and showed a lack of class in handling it the way she did.

Maybe an appropriate response from Happy to her would have been: Sure, that’s fine. Which one of us do you want to pay the extra three dollars?

Another possibility is letting her handle the bill and tip sometime. Or just ask her each time if she wants to be included in the usual splitting of the check. It make make her boyfriend a little curious, but why assume that he is going to pay for her every time?

I think that pooling your resources and sharing the food gives all of you something much more valuable than the money – a bond.

She doesn’t sound as if she’s poor, she sounds CHEAP.

CAG: Here, this is what I think I should pay.

Happy: […hands her ten bucks and the check…] Great idea! Me, too.

When I was a broke waitress in college, I stopped going out with some of my college buddies for this reason; a group of us would go out, and I was always the girl who figured out the check…

And I would say, “Bob, you owe me $12, Vince, you owe me $14, Shelley, you owe me $8,” etc., etc…

And somehow, when the pile of money was finally all in front of me, it would be mysteriously short. So I’d either have to ferret out the cheapskate, demand that everybody chip in a bit more, or pay the difference myself.

And THAT’S when the big “tip debate” would come up. sigh It’s just a safehouse for cheapasses.

So I called a halt to it. I wouldn’t even agree to go out with separate checks, because I don’t want to be seen with a whole group of cheapasses.

Feeling your pain, Happy Scrappy!