It’s All Fun & Games Until the Check Arrives

My turn, I believe.

My turn, I believe.

I’ve often said that going out to eat is my favorite indoor, non-contact sport.  I might need to rephrase this.  Oftentimes a lovely meal with friends or family morphs into a no-holds-barred wrestling match as soon as the check arrives.  I’m considering wearing protective gear the next time I go out to eat.

Here are a few of the games people play when it’s time to pay:

Hockey:  Sometimes the waitress drops the check in the middle of the table when you have a big group.  It’s like the puck being dropped at a hockey game and the players all start jabbing and sticking to gain control.  Diners should wear big, padded gloves in case they take a fork-jab to the hand.

Hide and seek:  If the waitress brings the check early while people are still eating, often only one person will notice.  That diner hides the bill under his or her plate.  By the time everybody else starts looking around for the check, the sneaky benefactor announces with a smirk that it has already been taken care of.

This happened at a recent family event where someone else had called “dibs” on the check.  That meal ended with yours-truly sandwiched between the two brawlers like a ref at a WWF wrestling match, yelling “break it up!” and trying to get them to go to their own corners.  Both were slinging the generosity around so ferociously, it was a wonder I wasn’t knocked out cold!

Capture the flag: We went to dinner with 2 other couples and at the end of the meal, the three guys separately excused themselves to go to the men’s room. Perfectly understandable after a big meal.  This was merely a smokescreen, however, as my husband whispered to me when he came back.  Each had detoured to the waitress station in an attempt to capture the check.  He and Checkout Man #2 were neatly out maneuvered by Potty Planner #1.

Tug of War: When dinner is clearly over, and everyone is refreshed and ready for battle, they start in on the waitress when she’s still halfway across the room carrying that tell-tale, padded envelope.  The poor girl gets tugged, threatened and pleaded with from all sides to hand over the check.  No matter what she does, someone is going to be mad. She can’t win!

Hot Potato:   It’s annoying when someone insists on picking up the tab every time.  Even more annoying, however, is the person who never offers to pay.  We all know someone like this.  When the check arrives he or she beats a hasty retreat to the bathroom, or makes sure they’re deep in conversation.   If the bill somehow winds up in their hands, they drop it like a hot potato. It would sit there until the paper disintegrated if someone else didn’t pick it up.  You suspect that Freddy the Freeloader didn’t even bring enough money to cover his own tab, let alone treat anyone else.

The problem with any of these games is that they never end.  You need a score-card to keep track of whose turn it is to snag the check at any given meal.

We go out with the same group of friends every week, and I like the solution they developed early on:

Double Dutch: Nobody jumps up to pay the tab – we all pay our own and skip the fuss.  Without the threat of mortal combat at the end of the meal we can relax, enjoy each other’s company, and leave the football pads and helmets at home.

 

 

 

 

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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39 Responses to It’s All Fun & Games Until the Check Arrives

  1. Sounds like you are engaged in a combined contact, strategy sport after all. Maybe you should bring paintball derringers to your next family dinner.

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  2. List of X says:

    You’re obviously all adults, so there is probably some wine and/or beer at the table. So why not do a round of Spin The Bottle to pick the one who picks up the check?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. susielindau says:

    Card Toss: We all throw our charge cards into the middle of the table and split it up. Super easy!

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  4. When you go out to lunch with me again, I promise I won’t pay for your meal. But I will buy you a couple blueberry ales and dessert. (I like my friends drunk and happy.)

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  5. Al says:

    There’s a dinner check?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. melissa says:

    Great read, Peg! This line was perfect, “Both were slinging the generosity around so ferociously, it was a wonder I wasn’t knocked out cold!”

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  7. franhunne4u says:

    To go dutch is what Germans usually do. Why should somebody else pick up your tab? Unless it is for a special occasion, I even split the meal costs for cooking when we cook at my place – and they do the same at their places. So everybody is more free to choose from the menu what they really like in a restaurant -and we do not have to limit our recipes when cooking to equal the sum of the ingredients each time (roughly) …

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  8. With family or close friends then it’s nice to take turns paying, but when it’s like a group of work colleagues going out, like we sometimes do (“we” is me and my work colleagues, not me and you Peg, although you would of course be very welcome, but I digress…) then I think it’s much fairer to each pay for what you’ve had, because the other popular option of splitting it equally, supposedly to make it easier, is very unfair on the poor person who just had a small salad and a glass of water vs the one who had three courses and two bottles of wine.

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    • pegoleg says:

      Exactly, VJ. Once,early in our marriage, we went out with 5 other couples to a very fancy Chicago restaurant called Chez Paul. One couple had an anniversary coming up. The hubster and I each ordered the cheapest thing on the menu and had only coffee because we were pretty much broke. One high-flyer ordered a $90 bottle of wine.
      When the bill came, guess who suggested not only splitting the bill, but splitting it 5 ways so we could treat the soon-to-be-anniversed?

      There was no way out of this gig without looking like total cheepos.

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  9. When the waitress drops the check onto the table, it’s like a hockey face-off where everyone is trying to get to it first. I wonder if anyone has ever been injured….

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    • pegoleg says:

      Tonight we’re going out with our usual large group and the place will NOT give individual checks. Good think we’ve got a banker in the mix to figure out the total – higher math will be required for sure!

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  10. Did you have this experience out in Seattle? It is a challenge if someone doesn’t do their share. Otherwise, it’s all good. But then, again, we don’t eat out much. 🙂

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    • pegoleg says:

      We had the problem that our generous hosts were trying to pick up EVERY bill. I had to resort to some sneaky tactics to make sure at least a couple of the checks came our way. 🙂

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  11. Wish I could edit a posted response.

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  12. TamrahJo says:

    I’m okay with Double-Dutch – BUT also like the ‘my turn, your turn’ flexible option with gracious acceptance when you say, “Let me get it, will ya? Cuz the last few hurried meals, to connect, we caught fast food lunch and seriously, I’ve never forgotten that wonderful evening at the steak house….” LOL

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  13. I’ll never forget the time my father and my husband fought over paying the bill. I was mortified. My husband is the guy who always has to pay. He never wants to “owe” anyone, and can not graciously receive and just say thank you.

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    • pegoleg says:

      That’s a tough one, especially when it’s your father. Dads are programmed to pay for their kids’ bills. Good point about being gracious and saying thank you. Although I do sometimes suspect the other person wants me to protest at least a couple of times before giving in. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. My husband always pays. He pays for this own birthday dinner, that others arranged. He would try to pay for his own surprise party. SMH

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    • pegoleg says:

      Now that’s ridiculous! On the other hand, there is this really expensive restaurant in town I’ve been wanting to try. What time are you guys free for dinner?

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  15. I’d like to go out with the people you hang out with!! I don’t have a lot of over enthusiastic bill payers in my circles! What’s worse is the person who nickels and dimes and will ONLY pay for their exact share even though everyone else is willing to do an even split. Awkward doesn’t describe it! You nailed the different scenarios! I laughed so hard at you sitting between the two ‘wrestlers’!! 😜😍

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  16. PiedType says:

    If you’re always with the same group, then going dutch is the obvious way to handle the check (s). Ask for separate checks to begin with.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I shamelessly and without compunction ask for separate checks. What a relief!

    My favorite is when there is agreement to split the check and then one member of the party commences to ordering bottle after bottle of wine, which you are on the hook for whether you wanted it or not. That’s a big thing in Manhattan.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. ” Without the threat of mortal combat at the end of the meal we can relax” Well said!
    With my dad and ancient relatives on fixed incomes ( but still having some pride), myhusband taught me to either whisper to the waiter taking orders (whispering not really necessary as most of them can’t hear much) that I was paying for it/the old ones – or to excuse myself and grab a waiter outside of eye sight.
    With others, I’m pretty fast with the “separate checks please” right at the first order – keeps things more friendly – and affordable for me.
    Always a trick, though. Had to laugh when you said your article was published and a couple of individuals stopped speaking.
    Hope your Holler-Ring is spooktacular!

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  19. So true! My favorite dinner out check paying time is when you’re with someone who always wants to play King of the Hill and insists on being the King! I’ve been buried deep in all the things life throws at a person, but I needed to carve out some time to visit my Peeps! Miss you!❤

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