Disclaimer: I tip a lot. I know this, everyone that knows me knows this. My husband and I are also pretty generous when we go out to eat with friends – if we don’t just pick up the tab, we always throw in an extra $5-$8, just in case. That being said, most of our friends are the same way. MOST.
I worked in a restaurant for most of my college career. I worked my butt off, and if it weren’t for the NY tourists that came through and didn’t adjust their tipping scale, I probably would not have made any money. Instead, I was very lucky and made lots of money. It was a valuable experience, because it taught me a lot about courtesy and tipping your servers well.
Now that I don’t have to wait tables to make ends meet, and being more or less able to afford to go out to eat frequently, we tend to take advantage of that and enjoy a meal out a few nights a week. When we go out with friends, 99% of them are just as generous and fair as we are, and we usually leave a pretty decent (20%-22%) tip. If we pick up the tab on a credit card, and our friends give cash, 99% of them never shortchange us – more than likely, they will give us a few dollars too much.
However, we have one friend in particular who either sucks at math, or just doesn’t understand the politics and social norms of splitting a check. Friend rounds to the nearest 5 or 10 (whichever is closer) and “that should cover me, tax and tip.” It never does, and we are always left picking up the rest. I know it’s only a few dollars here and there, never more than $10 at a time.
We went out for Indian food in the city (tapas style), with another couple and Friend, and the bill came to $220 before tip. Friend had to catch the last train out, so $35 out the door, we and the other couple were left to split the remainder. We had a total of 8 drinks – the other couple picked up 4 (for them and us), we paid for one ourselves, and Friend had two. Friend’s contribution was certainly not enough to cover the entire portion of food and drink – let alone tax and tip. Even the other couple mentioned something after Friend had left.
It’s been going on for the past year or so, and I always noticed it, but forgot about it since we are all close and spend lots of time together. But most recently, we went with Friend to a burger place, and we all had a burger and a beer. Friend had the most expensive burger and beer, by $0.50 each. It’s a small amount of money, but when the bill came, it was $58. Plus a $12 tip, $70 should have been split evenly. Friend’s portion of the bill came to just under $18, plus tax and tip. We only had a credit card, so Friend pulled out a $20, which somehow was supposed to cover everything? PJ and I paid $50, while Friend paid $20, when we all had the same things.
I brought this up to PJ, who reacted defensively and basically told me I was being cheap, bitchy, and focusing on negative. And Friend has picked up the tab once or twice, so that’s obviously repaying the favors. But I brought it up to my sister-in-law, because it was honestly bothering me, and she said every group has someone like Friend, and she has noticed this as well, so it’s probably habitual, even if it’s not malicious or intentional. She advised me to either get separate checks, or to just not hang out with Friend as much – which is difficult because we do spend lots of time together.
I think my only option is to always take the check and add it up myself, and just dictate what people owe. I really don’t think there’s any graceful way out of this 😦