Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Got This

I have joked (ok, semi-joked) over the years about how some of my favorite family traditions are arguing, gossip, secrets, etc. Well, our eating out together is no different. The times, places and occasions might change, but the one tradition we faithfully observe is the awkward moment we all share when the bill arrives.

The players can vary by outing, but the core players are usually my father, my cousin, her husband, and me. We can easily agree on when and where to eat. Sometimes, we even choose similar menu items. But when the bill comes, we're split into two separate camps.

My father and I are of the opinion that you tip well when deserved, and semi-well otherwise; but you always tip as though you might want to visit the restaurant again. In our minds, this means the tip hovers around 20% of the total bill.

Dad and I also think that we should just split the entire bill between the adults who are paying. We don't quibble over things like non-paying kids at the table, heavy bar bills, etc. [Note: Neither my dad nor I drink and neither of us brings non-payors to these events, so if we're not complaining, no one else should be, either.]

My cousin believes the bill should be analyzed and dissected as follows: If her step-children are there, her husband should put in just enough to cover their actual bill. Then she thinks we should split the rest equally - including her bar bill. Our total should include a tip that hovers around the 15% mark. This leaves my dad and me to compensate for the fact that the kids' meals weren't included in the calculation of the tip. Her husband goes along with her, after insisting he be the one to review the bill. [Also worth noting: He has, more than once, miscalcuated the tip and even the total. My dad has a bachelors degree in math and can do the whole thing in his head faster (and more accurately) than I can on my phone's tip calculator.]

I've tried different tactics; If the bill is handed to me, I do the calculation. This earns me the evil eye from my cousin, but she won't dare bring it up in front of my father. If I can, I offer to pay with my credit card, which allows me to control the tip, no matter who does the figuring. I've even gone back to the table after the fact to leave extra money.

But in the end, there's not much I can do. We don't choose our family - we get them, flaws and all. So, I grin and bear it; and I complain here. Thanks for listening.

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