I went to dinner with six friends last weekend, and we all ordered appetizers and desserts, and a few side orders. One of our party only eats gluten free food so ordered two starters as a meal. We split the bill and it came out to $36 each. But our gluten-free friend cried foul and asked for a separate check to pay $22 for his gluten-free dish. I was outraged and almost felt physically ill. I kicked my husband under the table and said under my breath, “Can you believe that?”
Tin you believe it Do you think I should have paid the $35 instead of asking for a separate check? Adding insult to injury, he left the waiter a $10 tip. Why not pay $35 like everyone else? I told my husband I would never go to dinner with him again. Don’t you think I should have paid $35 like everyone else? It was a great crowd. If everyone did it, you’d need a forensic accountant to figure out how many sticks someone ate.
On the other hand, we had a nice evening and it was a bring-your-own-bottle restaurant. I work as a teacher and my husband works in technology. We have a house together and have three children. Our gluten-free friend is a freelance consultant and divorced with two children. He had a very privileged education. I have worked hard for everything I have. I’m not saying any of us are rich, but when we go out to eat, we like to share and share equally, and split the bill down the middle.
When did it become so full of these eat-out-worthy moments?
Equal invoice divisor
I’m sorry to say that the most distressing moment happened when you kicked your husband under the table. I’m not a big fan of under-the-table communication in a group, and while we could debate the pros and cons of asking for a separate check for a $13 difference, I don’t think there’s much gray area when it comes to that. to call someone at the dinner table, especially when the other guests might catch your eye and your disapproval.
As for your friend, $13 is a lot of money to pay when you don’t eat all the food he ordered at the table. It may not seem like it to you or anyone else reading this column, but your friend is divorced with two kids and is self-employed, so we’re assuming his income isn’t always steady. Could I have split it in half and paid $35 and another 15% or 20% for a tip? For sure. But it has good financial limits. I applaud him.
The real issue here may go back to your respective upbringings and could explain your dramatic, and I would argue disproportionate, reaction to your friend asking for a separate $22 check. You worked hard, and maybe your friend had an easier start in life, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to pay for what he ate and watch every dollar. Divorce is like a recession. You may end up struggling to get back on your financial feet for years.
Maybe your friend always intended to pay $22 for his gluten-free dish and tip the server 50%, or maybe he has a well-trained eye and caught your reaction when paying for his own order and decided paying closer to what everyone else had paid. But I suspect that asking for separate checks will become more common as prices continue to rise, even at a slower rate, and people feel uncertain about spending money at restaurants.
Believe in equal bill sharing. I suggest you apply this equality to all dinner guests, regardless of educational and dietary restrictions, and allow them to make their own decisions about what they pay for the dinner. People often have problems (financial or otherwise) that we’re not aware of, so try to make room for that. What if your friend saw your eye-rolling and under-the-table antics? I’d like to think it made room for your behavior as well.
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