Author Topic: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner  (Read 11354 times)

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CluelessBride

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #75 on: August 08, 2010, 06:14:09 AM »

The author explicitly states that he used to order on the lower end of the scale but, being unable to change the attitude of the group -- the majority of which were ordering on the high end -- he decided to stop subsidizing their meals while he goes without on his own.

"I developed this system after too many birthday dinners where I went home poor and hungry. This way, at least, you get the food you want."

Honestly, I can't blame him. Would you want to order $30 worth of food only to be expected to contribute $170 to the meal? That's nearly SIX times the amount you ordered. Meanwhile, you get only a small dish or maybe just an appetizer and drink water, so you're not completely full (unless you're a very small eater to begin with), don't get the drink you wanted, and have to eat Ramen for a *week* at the end of the month because the extra $140 has to come from somewhere in you're budget and if you're on a tight one (as many grad students are -- I seriously don't know a single one, who doesn't have a trust fund or very generous parents, who hasn't overdrawn on their bank account at least once to cover basic necessities) it probably means skipping on a bill or skimping on groceries.

Can you decline the invite? Yes, to the risk of you're friend feeling very hurt and like you're not as close as s/he thought you were.

Can you insist on only paying your portion? Yes, but you come across as a cheapskate and jerk because you're begrudging others. This can also impact your rel@tionship with your birthday having friend.  (And, honestly, I don't think anyone can argue that people aren't looked down upon if everyone else agrees to split the check evenly and they insist on splitting their portion only. People who go against the grain with money in such a way they're trying to pay less aren't looked upon fondly. It's more "I'm splitting the check evenly and I only ordered $150 dollars worth of food, so what's wrong with you that you won't suck it up for the group?")

At which point the only halfway reasonable option is to order food enough that you'll not be paying six times your own bill.



Again, I guess one of the issues I have with this is that if everyone acts like the author, the only winner is the restaurant - because everyone will just order more and more. It's like avoiding the issue instead of dealing with it. I think that there are ways to pay for only your portion without sending the message of begrudging others - because in fact you are indulging their desire to want to order lots of expensive things.  But most people would understand this.  

One tactic is to be pre-emptive, and actually excuse yourself before the check comes.  If you know what you've ordered, do a little math for the tax and auto-grat, and pull out what you know you owe while headed to the restroom and say "Excuse me, I need to use the restroom, this should cover my meal and drinks"  Be explicit - there is a really good chance others will follow suit.  In large group situations people aren't always aware that one person has significantly under (or over) ordered - and because people are lazy they opt for the split X number of ways.  If you wait to say, "I'm only paying $Y" until after someone has announced how much everyone owes - people will be annoyed because they've already figured it out and now they have to do more math.  If you address the issue head on, it's less likely to be an issue.  As I said up-thread, I've never been in a situation where the check was just split evenly if people hadn't all ordered the same thing.  That's not just luck, its also being upfront about expectations.

In terms of declining an invite, if someone doesn't learn to politely decline invites, they are going to be in a world of hurt later in life.  

Re: bolded  As a grad student, I know many grad students who have never overdrawn their bank account (necessities or not) without the help of mom, dad or a trust fund - myself included.  It's not necessarily an easy thing to do, but plenty of grad students do it.  Perhaps not the ones that haven't learned to say no to $140 dinners though...  Honestly though, I understand that money can be tight.  Which is why the writer's approach is so awful to me - it's not addressing the issue.  He's still blowing his budget on one meal out.  But then (unlike the rich lawyers he complains about), he has the nerve to gripe about how much it sucks that people order expensively - when he is doing the same thing.  Except without the plausible deniability that he was just ordering what he wanted to eat that the rich lawyer has.  

And I'd like to reiterate that for me it's about the attitude that he has in his article and his rationale.  If he went out and ordered with reckless abandon because it was going to be his one night out that month and he was going to have a good time, well then darn it, I'm with him 100%!  Just like I'm with the grad student that eats ramen for 11 months straight and doesn't turn the lights on so they can afford afford a fun vacation that year.  It's the "offensive ordering", while complaining about the whole practice and having to pay a large amount of money because he's basically forced to order the expensive thing because he's too immature to deal with the issue head on that bothers me.  And I'd also be bothered by the grad student who complained about the fact that they ate ramen for 11 months in the dark to afford to go on the cruise with a bunch of their lawyer friends who had more money. 
« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 06:20:35 AM by CluelessBride »

Moralia

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #76 on: August 08, 2010, 07:25:05 AM »
I went to a workplace birthday lunch and people wanted to "split the bill evenly".  I had only a salad at the expensive steak restaurant and said with a smile.  "Well, you can do what you like, here's the X for my salad + Y for the tip and Z for my share of B-Day girl's food."
I was never invited back out with that group, but honestly, if they only want me around to subsidize their meals, I can take the "ostracism".

noexitwounds

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #77 on: August 08, 2010, 09:01:35 AM »
It's the "offensive ordering", while complaining about the whole practice and having to pay a large amount of money because he's basically forced to order the expensive thing because he's too immature to deal with the issue head on that bothers me.

You gave one example of how to do it "without sending the message of begrudging others" -- and even the example doesn't work if the group defacto agrees that checks for this sort of event are split evenly. I really can't think of a way to say "I'm only paying $40." while everyone else is paying $180 and now has to pay $190 because of you that doesn't lead to hard feelings.

Again, the author states he's tried other ways of handling this and they didn't work. If there's a group consensus on how something is handled it is very difficult for one person to change that consensus. I wouldn't call that immaturity. And he only came to 'offensive ordering' because he was fed up with paying much more than what his own food cost and going home hungry besides. That isn't hypocritical -- it's assessing a bad situation and making the best of it. He can still be frustrated with the practice while handling it in a way he isn't taken massive advantage of. Why does he have to be getting taken advantage of to complain about the practice?
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mj

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #78 on: August 08, 2010, 11:35:53 AM »
I'm also one of those that was glad when the birthday dinner fell out of favor with our friends.  Often, you'd end up in a mixed crowd sitting with people you didn't know well and stuck supplementing other peoples drinks or expensive taste in wine.  After abou 5 or 6 of them, I quit going unless it was a small group of 4 or 5 people.  

On the split check, I would never ask a waiter to split the check for a group of 12 or more ordering multiple courses over many hours.  Just think of the logistics.  Normally, a waiter has a computer system that he pulls up a table number and places orders for them.  If he has 8 tables he's working, having 12 separate checks just increased his complexity by more than 100%.  So let's say, he's name your table table number 2.  He now has ticketing for 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h, 2i, 2j, 2k, & 2l.  You each order your first round of drinks, so he now brings up 12 separate tickets and enters them in.  5 of you decide to order apps.  He now has to remember which of you is 2a, 2d, 2e, 2i, & 2j... and just hope two of you haven't asked him to split the cost between two of you because your going to share.  Another round of drinks are ordered by 6 and again he's submitting 6 separate orders and trying to remember who is who.  You then get to the entree round and another 12 orders to place and againing remembering who is who.  More drinks, some desserts, coffee ordered and maybe another round of night caps.  I'm exhausted just thinking of the logistics of trying to keep up with these hungry and thirsty 12 individuals and their separate requests.

Also, in my experience, I think more people would be bothered by food arriving at different times than not.  I've always been trained to wait until everyone gets served before starting my meal, especially the entree course.  

I agree.  I don't think many people know the level of detail they're asking when requesting to split a check.  

Also, I do think it's something to be aware of before you get to the restaurant.  Whoever hosted should scope out and check with restaurants to see who will/will not split checks if it is that important to the party.  Otherwise, it's like dining any other time, order what you can pay for.

I get why it's complicated now, but I don't understand why it has to be.  With all of the advances in computers and technology, one would think this could be solved by a computer programmer with a free afternoon. 

I really think the restaurants count on people ordering more with unsplit checks - and that's why there isn't yet a simpler solution - but I'll admit that is an unfounded hunch  ;)

I don't think the technology is the problem.  The waitstaff would still have to enter the information into the program and that's where the problem is.  There are very few people in this world who could manage to remember that level of detail or manage to right it all down correctly -- at the same time not assign anything to the wrong person.

The restaurants I worked in didn't say the reason was b/c people ordered more, it was just a downright hassle.   Especially when considering if people shared apps, desserts....who do you charge then?  And why should one table monopolize the waiters time? 

It's not the restaurants that are the problem, I'm thinking it's more of the diners and companions problem.  If the group you're (general you) with can't or won't split the bill fairly, then it's not the restaurants fault.  They offer the service and the group agreed took them up on it.

CluelessBride

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #79 on: August 08, 2010, 01:22:56 PM »
It's the "offensive ordering", while complaining about the whole practice and having to pay a large amount of money because he's basically forced to order the expensive thing because he's too immature to deal with the issue head on that bothers me.

You gave one example of how to do it "without sending the message of begrudging others" -- and even the example doesn't work if the group defacto agrees that checks for this sort of event are split evenly. I really can't think of a way to say "I'm only paying $40." while everyone else is paying $180 and now has to pay $190 because of you that doesn't lead to hard feelings.

Again, the author states he's tried other ways of handling this and they didn't work. If there's a group consensus on how something is handled it is very difficult for one person to change that consensus. I wouldn't call that immaturity. And he only came to 'offensive ordering' because he was fed up with paying much more than what his own food cost and going home hungry besides. That isn't hypocritical -- it's assessing a bad situation and making the best of it. He can still be frustrated with the practice while handling it in a way he isn't taken massive advantage of. Why does he have to be getting taken advantage of to complain about the practice?

He himself admits he hasn't tried the first method he discusses (seceding from the check).  He doesn't even discuss offering to pay for only what he consumed wish out getting a separate check.  So he hasn't tried tons of other ways.  Just the subtle way of ordering cheap and hoping other people will also order cheap (even if they happen to want and be able to afford more expensive entrees.)  And I'd point out that the ordering cheap strategy only works if everyone else obsesses over this as much as he does (instead of just not realizing that there is an issue).  He also barely addresses declining invites, although it is his new plan - and I think it's a much better one than "offensive ordering".  Honestly, if it's such a problem decline invites to places that are this expensive.  Other methods include being upfront with your friends *before* the event (someone who doesn't understand that I can't/don't want to afford to pay for their share of a meal when I'm not ordering so extravagantly, is perhaps not someone I would want to dine with anyway.)  Another option would be to organize events and meals that are inherently cheaper or flat rate per person or more easily paid for individually.     

Regarding the bolded, it's because he is making the choice to participate in the system.  And this type of system relies on participation - he is as much to blame as the lawyers he claims have expensive taste.  Arguably more to blame because while there is no indication that the lawyers know not everyone is ordering and consuming on about the same level - he could just be getting what he/she would normally get at Chez Fancy.  The letter writer, however, is aware of the system, but still buys into the keeping up with Jones' attitude of it all.  He is condoning it by not doing anything to try to counteract the overall issue of "everyone pays the same no matter what" (except write a whiny article).  He can't claim to hate that people order with reckless abandon and then do the same thing - it is hypocritical.  It would be like claiming you hate it when people include registry info in their wedding invites, but then do it anyway because you don't want to get screwed and get weird things because no one knows where you are registered. 

I mean, I don't think he is the worst person ever, I just don't feel sorry for him.  It's like a bed, made, lie situation to me.

noexitwounds

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #80 on: August 08, 2010, 01:39:19 PM »
Arguably more to blame because while there is no indication that the lawyers know not everyone is ordering and consuming on about the same level - he could just be getting what he/she would normally get at Chez Fancy.

The lawyers would have to be terminally stupid or self-absorbed not to realize that the grad students are on tight budgets. It's common knowledge.

He is condoning it by not doing anything to try to counteract the overall issue of "everyone pays the same no matter what" (except write a whiny article).  He can't claim to hate that people order with reckless abandon and then do the same thing - it is hypocritical.  It would be like claiming you hate it when people include registry info in their wedding invites, but then do it anyway because you don't want to get screwed and get weird things because no one knows where you are registered. 

He wrote an article condemning the system that leads to it. He acknowledged he was part of the system, which is usually how it works with someone protests a system. It's not hypocritical to dislike a system you participate in because you don't see a better choice.

Declining invites - he doesn't get to celebrate his friend's birthdays/special occasions/what not because of the thoughtless well-funded persons.

Saying "I don't want to pay as much so you need to pay even more now" -- can lead to resentment by other people in the party.

Until someone provides an example of how to do this without punishing the author (like paying when he only consumed a small portion or declining invites he wants to go to) or potentially leading to resentment/the perception he's a cheap skate, I'm going to hold my position. He's reacting in a logical way to a system that sucks.
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baglady

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #81 on: August 08, 2010, 02:22:44 PM »
Quote
The lawyers would have to be terminally stupid or self-absorbed not to realize that the grad students are on tight budgets. It's common knowledge.

But this party was made up of several different groups of people who didn't know each other. The author said he was seated with people he didn't know. The wealthier people in the group may not have had a clue that there were struggling grad students among the guests -- they're at Chez Fancy, after all, so the assumption is that they can afford to eat there. Heck, I don't even know what most of my friends make, let alone strangers.

In a smaller group where everyone knows each other well, someone who doesn't want to split the bill evenly could speak up. In a big group with strangers, I know I couldn't do that without feeling either cheap or playing the pity card.
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noexitwounds

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #82 on: August 08, 2010, 02:38:17 PM »
Quote
The lawyers would have to be terminally stupid or self-absorbed not to realize that the grad students are on tight budgets. It's common knowledge.

But this party was made up of several different groups of people who didn't know each other. The author said he was seated with people he didn't know. The wealthier people in the group may not have had a clue that there were struggling grad students among the guests -- they're at Chez Fancy, after all, so the assumption is that they can afford to eat there. Heck, I don't even know what most of my friends make, let alone strangers.

In a smaller group where everyone knows each other well, someone who doesn't want to split the bill evenly could speak up. In a big group with strangers, I know I couldn't do that without feeling either cheap or playing the pity card.

The thing is -- he was just using an example to illustrate a larger problem. So, in this instance, yes, the lawyers may not know there are those among them who can't afford extravagance (though I think it's fairly common sense to round down rather than up when you don't know and I doubt it wouldn't come out they were grad students during the dinner if anyone in that situation talked to the other side), but in other situations -- which are just as aggravating to the author -- people would have/may have known and done it anyway.
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evely28

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #83 on: August 08, 2010, 02:42:08 PM »
It seems like this guy went to the dinner and would have been happy except:

     1) For the amount of expensive left over food.

     2) Someone spoke for the group and offered to pay for the girlfriends dinner.


His definition of ordering "offensively" sounds like ordering in a way that there won't be a huge disparity in the price range. He sounds like if the others ordered chicken or mid range that that's what he would order. If the other's are ordering lobster he might as well do the same. I don't see how he can be faulted for this.

Danismom

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #84 on: August 08, 2010, 04:06:47 PM »
I find it interesting that so many restaurants still claim their technology won't allow for split checks.  14 years ago I worked for a popular TX seafood restaurant that had computerized checks (POS system).  One of the basic functions was how to split a check.  With a large group you simply asked discreetly if it was separate or together.  Then if it was separate, you asked who was on which check and went from there.  It all went into the computer on 1 ticket and the server used any downtime to breakdown the check into the separate tickets (abcde...).  It really wasn't very hard at all.  And for shared items, I would ask whose bill they went on. 

I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's job.  Management has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.

C0mputerGeek

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #85 on: August 08, 2010, 05:46:36 PM »
I find it interesting that so many restaurants still claim their technology won't allow for split checks.  14 years ago I worked for a popular TX seafood restaurant that had computerized checks (POS system).  One of the basic functions was how to split a check.

Does every restaurant use the exact same software? Somehow, I think not. I think restaurants purchase software that is (1) within their budget and (2) meets the needs that they have prioritized. Just because Restaurant A has software that splits the checks for large parties does not mean that Restaurant B will.

I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's jobManagement has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.

Bolding, mine.

I would like this would depend on the restaurant. Not all managers/owners may consider providing separate checks an essential part of the wait staff's job.

Surianne

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #86 on: August 08, 2010, 06:23:02 PM »
I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's jobManagement has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.

Bolding, mine.

I would like this would depend on the restaurant. Not all managers/owners may consider providing separate checks an essential part of the wait staff's job.

Dansimom specifically said she was only talking about restaurants where cheque splitting is allowed, and thus it's part of the service the waiter provides. 

Miss Understood

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #87 on: August 09, 2010, 12:19:22 AM »
I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's jobManagement has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.

Bolding, mine.

I would like this would depend on the restaurant. Not all managers/owners may consider providing separate checks an essential part of the wait staff's job.

Dansimom specifically said she was only talking about restaurants where cheque splitting is allowed, and thus it's part of the service the waiter provides. 

True, and I would agree, in a restaurant that allows separate checks.  This would apparently require a software system that would allow servers to move charges from one check to another without manual manager approval, which was not the case where I worked (and since restaurant policy was against separate checks, that was always cause for a reprimand). 

She also indicated that this moving around would be something that would be done during “downtime,” an unknown term where I worked.  I think it probably comes down to the same thing as in my “no reservations” thread a few months ago – if the restaurant is turning away business to begin with, it doesn’t need to attract more by burdening its servers with extra work.

blarg314

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #88 on: August 09, 2010, 05:27:51 AM »

$168.51/person for a dinner out?!?

I've never spent that much for a dinner in my life. Doing so as a grad student would have been impossible - that was about 1/3 of my monthly rent, or about 3 weeks of groceries.

I don't mind going out for someone's birthday within reason. Within reason means that there is the option for someone on a tight budget to order separately, or that the venue is chosen with the budget of the most cash strapped member of the party taken into account. In general, graduate students don't go to upscale steak houses unless someone else is paying. Graduate students also rarely order from a wine list.



Venus193

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Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
« Reply #89 on: August 09, 2010, 08:24:14 AM »
When Eunice and Steve helped me with my mother's house 5 years ago I took them to the Firebird:

http://www.firebirdrestaurant.com/

We didn't order a bottle but we did have caviar, cocktails, and a couple of glasses of wine.  The bill was $405 and I tipped $100 because of the imperial-level service.

So it is possible to spend $168 per person.  Which doesn't necessarily make it a good idea.