Author Topic: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner  (Read 12597 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #45 on: August 06, 2010, 10:19:24 PM »
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


I'm guessing that what the "cheapskate" did was to slip the waiter an extra $5 and promise an 18% tip in exchange to quietly, privately, breaking the rules. It would still be cheaper.

And I agree w/ Kareng57 about the girlfriend's--I'd have accepted thinking I'd be paying for my dinner and a portion of the b'day boy's--but I wouldn't be happy to find out that I have to pay for her, AND she isn't helping w/ the b'day boy's.

I will say that in any of my circles, there's a very serious effort made to be sure no one gets charged for more than they want to pay for. I'm very grateful.

I also think people who are about to get stuck w/ a bill they don't deserve should speak up, and quite loudly. "Wait--I didn't order all the expensive wine, and appetizers, and I didn't eat them. I ordered a sandwich, and dessert, then there's tip and tax, and my share if $35. Here it is." Plonk--onto the table go your bills.

Miss Understood

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #46 on: August 06, 2010, 11:42:56 PM »
I have been on both sides of this conundrum, as a starving student asked to put in an “equal share” when the rest of my co-workers were full-time employees and some had ordered several courses and wine while I had a side salad and water, and as a waitress who could not accommodate 12 checks per table (Pame encapsulated the difficulties with that perfectly – I don’t need to reinvent the wheel there – I will only add that my restaurant had a definite policy against separate checks, and any items that might need to moved from one check to another required manager approval, which then required severe manager disapproval regarding why the server was allowing separate checks in the first place).

This is really an etiquette problem, not a business problem – the restaurant isn’t wrong for not allowing separate checks for large parties (again, see Pame’s response, so spot on, I’ve been there).  The etiquette problem is that people are expecting others to pay their way, and that can (and should) be called out.  When this problem was occurring in my life, I was too young and non-assertive to call attention to it.  In DH’s and my social circle now, it would never come up, because we just trade paying with other couples and we do not associate with people who would take advantage of us like that.  I think in the end, that’s the solution to the problem – if you have friends who view you as their personal piggy bank, they aren’t really your friends at all and you should cut them out.  The “friends” I had who took financial advantage of me when I was young and non-assertive are not in my life any more.

shhh its me

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #47 on: August 07, 2010, 02:24:22 AM »

I am not getting the whole, "birthday parties suck," theme in the article. I've even enjoyed birthday dinners.

I didn't get a "birthday parties suck" vibe from the writer. I got an "I hate subsidizing other people's restaurant excesses" vibe from him. And I can't blame him much - if I can be allowed to pay just for what I ordered and a portion of the birthday person's meal, fine. If I have to fork over more than I can afford so that other people can order shrimp, lobster, and bubbly, then no. I'm not particularly interested.

I actually got more of a "I hate dinner parties AT RESTAURANTS for large groups ESPECIALLY when your connection to many of  group is an honoree"
............Responding to thread in general now..............

He talked  a great deal about splitting the bill but that can happen at any "Let's split the check" function. The other side  of the expense issue is just as valid if I have to pay for my dinner do I actually have to order chicken salad because that's all you can afford , when we could afford $150 dinner I would much rather have split the check too, I had no desire to stick you with the bill but I also don't want to pay for something I don't want either. BTW I would of solved it by being aware of what my total was and if the split came to less I would have said " oh, I got that $50 bottle of wine heres $50 now lets split the rest" or whatever ran my portion up.  The other point was just as valid if not more so, 10-12 people in a fancyish restaurant half of your guests most likely won't be able to speak to you most of the night. Dinner parties include more then dinner , mingling & cocktail before mingling and dessert after. I don't think wanting to spend time some with the BDay boy is a whinny idea.

Jolie_kitten

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #48 on: August 07, 2010, 02:42:40 AM »
In my group, should we do a birthday dinner, it's understood that everyone, including the birthday party, pays for their own meal.  Keeps the drinks from getting out of hand.

In my group (and pretty much in my culture) it is the person hosting the birthday party that pays for everyone; and also it is pretty much the norm to host your own birthday parties.
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Millionaire Maria

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #49 on: August 07, 2010, 03:05:08 AM »
This is quite an interesting spin on the whole "host your own birthday party" theme. So, it is now, apparently, acceptable to "host" a party in your own honor and then at the end of it "graciously" allow your "guests" to foot the bill for said "hosted" party.

I mean, the whole, "I host my own birthday bash and pay for everything" I can certainly understand, while not condone. But I can not fathom inviting people to *my* birthday party and then expecting them to not only pay for my meal, but also subsidize the meals of people they may or may not know. Absolutely ridiculous.


As far as the restaurant's policy on splitting bills: any business has the right to enforce this policy. Any customer has a right to protest this policy by voting with their wallet. The problem arises when the customer doesn't have a choice between being a customer of that particular restaurant and not being a (paying) "guest" of a self-hosted birthday party. And that makes the biggest etiquette offender the birthday person.
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LifeOnPluto

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #50 on: August 07, 2010, 05:43:11 AM »
My thoughts:

1) If I read the article correctly, the total cost per guest was $168?! (not for the entire table). To me, that is an extremely high amount (and I say this as a lawyer earning a comfortable salary.) I think that "Simon" was rather rude in choosing such an expensive restaurant when he knew that some of his friends were grad students and probably could not afford such a place.

I realise the counter argument is "But those poor grad students had the ability to decline the invitation!" To that I say "But perhaps those grad students intended to order the cheapest meals on the menu, to save money." Which brings me to my second point.

2) I think in cases where there is a big difference in what people are ordering, the group should not split the bill equally. The author would have been fine in saying "Guys, I had a coke and the pasta. My share is $25 including tax and tip, plus a bit extra for Simon's meal - here's $35." If people protested at that statement, THEY are the rude ones.

3) I don't think the guests should have had to pay for Simon's girlfriend. I think the person who suggested that was quite rude, as they did not check with the other guests to see if that was ok. I also think the girlfriend should not have accepted this offer.

4) It was not Simon's fault the table was too big. I feel for the author, being stuck in an uncomfortable position. The guests on either side of him might have been rude (for not talking to the author) but I on't think this one was Simon's fault.

5) In general, I think it's rude for GoH to expect guests to pay their own way, chip in for their meal, AND expect a gift. So I hope Simon did not expect presents, and I don't think the author (or the other guests) were obliged to get him one.


Sirius

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #51 on: August 07, 2010, 01:43:35 PM »
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.




I think this situation is one of the unseen consequences of the computer age.  Back when I was a waitress we had to write our own tickets, so if a table of people all wanted separate checks it wasn't that big of a deal to flip to the next ticket and keep writing.  Nowadays, if a check needs to be split we have Mr. Sirius calculate it.  He can do math in his head faster than most people can with a calculator, and he can also calculate tip percentages (and sales tax, and shipping and handling, and etc...)  He's also scrupulously honest.  It's fascinating to watch him; you can almost hear his brain clicking away.

However, I do have to comment on one particular part of the article:  Being stuck between two groups where I don't know anyone, and no one is talking to me.  I've been there, and that can turn an otherwise nice party into a terribly boring evening.  I went to a wedding once when I was single and  unaccompanied, and if I was asked to swap seats once I was asked at least four times.  (I felt like a chess piece.)  I finally decided I wasn't going to move any more, which resulted in me sitting at a table of the bride's relatives, and after asking me how I knew the bride and groom they never said another word to me except for asking me to keep an eye on their kids while they mingled.  I said no, and left soon after.   

Cellardoor14

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #52 on: August 07, 2010, 02:11:12 PM »
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.
However, I do have to comment on one particular part of the article:  Being stuck between two groups where I don't know anyone, and no one is talking to me.  I've been there, and that can turn an otherwise nice party into a terribly boring evening.  


I've been there too... It's really frustrating when, like me, you don't get a chance to get out often.  Last time it happened, I was stuck between two separate groups of perfectly nice, but unknown to me, folks, and the background music was so loud I could only hear every third or fourth word either side.  I spent most of the evening, picking the food, as there is only so many times you can say politely "Pardon?" and "Sorry, what was that?" to a group of relative strangers.  By the end, you do start wondering what was the point in going out in the first place, as it's not quite the image of fun you pictured you'd be having as an adult.




Lisbeth

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #53 on: August 07, 2010, 02:21:34 PM »

I am not getting the whole, "birthday parties suck," theme in the article. I've even enjoyed birthday dinners.

I didn't get a "birthday parties suck" vibe from the writer. I got an "I hate subsidizing other people's restaurant excesses" vibe from him. And I can't blame him much - if I can be allowed to pay just for what I ordered and a portion of the birthday person's meal, fine. If I have to fork over more than I can afford so that other people can order shrimp, lobster, and bubbly, then no. I'm not particularly interested.

That was the vibe I got too.  I think everyone should have cleared it with everyone else what the limits were, so that the lower-income people aren't expected to subsidize meals for others that they can't afford-especially when the others aren't paying, like the girlfriend.  That was rude.
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CluelessBride

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #54 on: August 07, 2010, 02:31:05 PM »
I really see this as two separate issues:  organizing your own birthday dinner at a restaurant and check splitting craziness.

The situation described in the article could have occurred at a "let's all meet up at Chez Fancy for dinner" event - regardless of whether or not it was for a specific occasion.

The guys share was $168 - there were 10 shares (instead of 12), meaning even if Simon and GF had paid, the bill would have been $140 per person - not much better than 168.  I do find paying for the GF odd, (if she hadn't been exempt from paying, it would have been $153 per person)  Usually, when I attend these types of events, if the guest of honor has an SO, the SO covers the guest of honor and everyone else pays their own share.  If the guest of honor doesn't have and SO, usually one or two of the closest friends announce that they are covering the guest.  One time the guest of honor had a birthday coupon entitling her to a free meal - so the restaurant picked up her tab!

The larger issue is the idea that the bill is split evenly - regardless of what people order.  I've done this before - but only if the difference in what we ordered is only a couple dollars.  And I would never suggest it if I was the one who should owe more (although I have accepted).  I consider a few dollars here and there to wash out over time between friends.  Personally, I think it's asking for trouble.  In a situation like this, I think the polite thing for the high spenders to do is to insist on covering their full share of the bill (based on what they ordered), because it's a lot less awkward than the person ordering the garden salad having to put her foot down and refuse to pay for more than the food and drink she consumed.

I would not dine out twice with someone who ordered expensively to others inexpensive orders and then thought splitting the bill equally was fair or right.


ETA:  And I don't actually feel very sorry for the author.  He's playing into the system by ordering more expensive food/drink because he doesn't want to be the one paying more for less.  Which makes him just as bad as those with deep pockets.  Possibly worse since the deep pocketed people might just be clueless to the fact that not everyone was in the position to spend as much money as them.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 02:33:43 PM by CluelessBride »

TootsNYC

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #55 on: August 07, 2010, 02:56:53 PM »
I really see this as two separate issues:  organizing your own birthday dinner at a restaurant and check splitting craziness.

The situation described in the article could have occurred at a "let's all meet up at Chez Fancy for dinner" event - regardless of whether or not it was for a specific occasion.


I agree, but I think the difference here is manyfold:

- for a b'day dinner, you don't get to pick all the dinner's participants. So you can't refuse to spend time w/ the sorts of people who stick you w/ the check.

- when the dinner participants are for a third-party guest of honor, they will likely include several people you don't know well at all--and people nowadays are really lousy as making conversation w/ people they don't know, so even if YOU are able & willing, they likely aren't.

- because the dinner participants aren't your own circle of friends, there isn't any "over time" for things to wash out in.

-for a b'day dinner, you may not feel that you can say "no" without hurting their feelings, or you may really want to send the "you matter to me" message that comes with attending; the pressure to go is higher.

I also wasn't in love with the Writer's tactic of ordering a lot more than normal.
I would have admired him more if he'd said, "I simply resign myself to making this be my one expensive meal out, and I don't try to pinch pennies, but instead join in the 'indulgence' theme. I go along with the crowd, resigned."
That may be what he's really doing, and he just phrased it in a more punitive way.

bopper

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #56 on: August 07, 2010, 02:57:34 PM »


Its not a restaurant being lazy to have a limit to how many checks a table can have, its called business - extra checks take time, are more work for the staff (timing one check to have all the food at once is less communication to an already harried kitchen staff, whereas making sure the kitchen knows these 5 separate bills all have to be ready at the same time...) plus it means they can't as easily add on the large group gratuity, which means the waiter, who is working extra hard, because yes one table of 10 is more work then 5 tables of 2, might get royally stiffed.

I am an American living in Germany and in Germany it is quite common for them to ask "Zusammen oder getrennt?"  which means Together or separate checks?  If it is a split check, then the waiter quickly adds up what you ordered.  In some restaurants you get a little receipt for each item you order so you just gather up all your receipts and pay them.    Mostly they get all the food out at the same time.  Mostly. ;-)

CluelessBride

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #57 on: August 07, 2010, 03:14:53 PM »
I really see this as two separate issues:  organizing your own birthday dinner at a restaurant and check splitting craziness.

The situation described in the article could have occurred at a "let's all meet up at Chez Fancy for dinner" event - regardless of whether or not it was for a specific occasion.


I agree, but I think the difference here is manyfold:

- for a b'day dinner, you don't get to pick all the dinner's participants. So you can't refuse to spend time w/ the sorts of people who stick you w/ the check.

- when the dinner participants are for a third-party guest of honor, they will likely include several people you don't know well at all--and people nowadays are really lousy as making conversation w/ people they don't know, so even if YOU are able & willing, they likely aren't.

- because the dinner participants aren't your own circle of friends, there isn't any "over time" for things to wash out in.

-for a b'day dinner, you may not feel that you can say "no" without hurting their feelings, or you may really want to send the "you matter to me" message that comes with attending; the pressure to go is higher.

Well, most of the time when I go out to dinner, I don't pick all of the participants.  It's generally, one person says, "we should get a group together to go X" and then a bunch of people get added to the group. Even if I'm the one to start the ball rolling, it's generally pretty open invite.  Of course, the types of places we go are not the sort where it would be easy to rack up a $150+/person bill without someone passing out drunk. 

I'm really bad at making conversation with strangers in general, but I actually do better when meeting them in a group setting, like a mutual friends birthday - because we have something in common.  I'm also a great listener (even though I'm not the best talker), so I've never had a problem in these situations, even if there are many people I don't know.  They are certainly easier times to get through than weddings, because I feel less out of my element.

I agree on your 3rd point, which is why I think it is particularly important for these types of things to be everyone pays for what they order, instead of everyone pays for 1/(#of participants) of the bill.  If someone wants to offer to pay for more, that's fine.  But the "oh we should just split it evenly" should *never* come from some one who would be getting a discount from this approach - because it's basically asking someone to cover your meal. 

On your fourth point, I get that some people feel this way, but I sort of think it's their own fault.  There are plenty of ways to say "no" without saying "I don't care".  One of those is of course not getting upset when people can't/don't attend your gatherings.  Another is immediately suggesting a private celebration. ("Sorry, I won't be able to attend your dinner at Chez Fancy, but I'd love to take you out for dessert at Awesome Chocolate Place to celebrate your birthday.  I'm free Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday night of this week if any of those work for you")  Or remembering to call (instead of just a facebook wall message), or even sending a card in the mail.  I've never had a huge issue with declining invites because I'm either not close enough to be involved in the planning/scheduling, so I can beg off on a "previous commitment", or I am close enough to be honest about why I can't attend.

June24

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #58 on: August 07, 2010, 04:16:31 PM »
I really sympathize with the person who wrote that letter. Even if you're not strapped for cash, it's beyond annoying to have to pay for someone else's extravagant meal if all you ordered was a small amount of food. It's easy for me to say since I wasn't in the situation, but I think that the letter writer could have spoken up and said that he was only paying for his portion of the bill. I can see how that would be really difficult to do, though - not only do you get branded as the "broke one" (which can be embarrassing), but you're seen as the Grinch who spoiled the festivities. It doesn't really matter what people on ehell think - there ARE a surprising number of people out there who would think this way (and maybe even say something) if one person refused to split the bill.

CluelessBride

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #59 on: August 07, 2010, 06:23:46 PM »
I really sympathize with the person who wrote that letter. Even if you're not strapped for cash, it's beyond annoying to have to pay for someone else's extravagant meal if all you ordered was a small amount of food. It's easy for me to say since I wasn't in the situation, but I think that the letter writer could have spoken up and said that he was only paying for his portion of the bill. I can see how that would be really difficult to do, though - not only do you get branded as the "broke one" (which can be embarrassing), but you're seen as the Grinch who spoiled the festivities. It doesn't really matter what people on ehell think - there ARE a surprising number of people out there who would think this way (and maybe even say something) if one person refused to split the bill.

But just as a point of clarification, that's not what's happening here.  According to the column article, the guy actually orders expensively - with the theory that if he's subsidizing others, they can subsidize him too.  Which means if there is a person at the dinner who *actually* ordered a small amount of food - the writer is doing just as much to screw them over as the supposed deep-pocketed guests.  Except that whereas the deep-pocketed guests may just be ordering what they like and not even thinking about how others might be subsidizing it, the writer is knowingly doing it for the purpose of being "even".