Some relatives were visiting us for the weekend, which was nice. Of course, this inevitably led to fighting over who would pay for the check when we dined out. Over the years, I have observed this mostly from the kid’s point of view, but now as a full wage-earner I must also assume the duties of this time-honored tradtion. Foremost rule: always grab the check first. This may require a keen eye and a swift hand.
If you don’t grab the check first, here are the various levels of fighting, from easy-going to serious, that I’ve discerned so far:
1. Nice/Half-hearted – this method rarely works.
You: I’ve got it.
Friend/Relative: No, I’ve got it.
You: No, really, it’s ok.
Friend/Relative: I insist!
You: Ok, but I get to pay next time/tomorrow/later today.
2. Snatch method – whenever the person let’s go of the check for any reason, such as looking in their purse for a credit card, you must snatch the check away and pay yourself. This works best if you have your credit card at the ready.
3. Reverse-psychology Switch – Use method #1 to begin, and pretend to relent and let them pay. Then, after they’ve put their cash/card in the black check-holder, wait for them to avert their attention or go to the bathroom. Then sneakily switch their payment for yours. Return your friend’s money when the receipt mysteriously gets returned to you by the waitperson.
4. Pre-emptive strike – About 15 minutes before people are done with their main course, excuse yourself to the bathroom. On the way, hunt down your waiter and give him/her your credit card (and if convenient, review the bill). Return nonchalantly, and await victory as the check arrives.
Of course, there is a delicate balance of not always paying, as this may offend your relatives. Adjust due to age, host/visitor status, and sometimes even who’s more well-off (students can get off). You must always put up some sort of fight though, if only method #1. Beware of counter-strikes. It’s crazy out there!