When I was in college, one of my friends — “Henry” — had a lot of other friends, and I was casually acquainted with a few of them. One Saturday night, about 15 of us were hanging out together (a few of my close friends, plus many acquaintances and other random people who knew Henry), and Henry suggested that we all go into town for dinner and drinks at a restaurant. Everyone thought this was a good idea, so we all drove into town, picked a nice restaurant, and sat all together at one big table. The place wasn’t exactly cheap, so I only ordered an appetizer and one drink; many of the others did the same, but there were a few who ordered expensive entrees plus appetizers, desserts, and several drinks.
When the bill came, Henry announced to all of us that “Jane,” “Kelly,” and “Bob” were all celebrating birthdays within the next week, and instructed everyone to throw in some extra cash to cover their meals and their shares of the tip. Neither Jane, Kelly, nor Bob were my friends — I only knew them because I had seen them with Henry, and I certainly had no idea when their birthdays were. And of course they had all ordered expensive meals. Not one of them said anything or offered any money as the rest of us passed the bill. Henry then counted up the cash and announced that we were still short $30, so could everyone please add a few dollars more. It was awkward and unfair — if I had known that I would be expected to help pay for the expensive dinners of three people I barely knew, I probably wouldn’t have gone. We were college students — none of us had very much money! But nobody said anything, the bill got paid, and Jane, Kelly, and Bob got free meals. I wish I had known what to do, but we were put on the spot. 1018-10