Check Point

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I was at a bar in Myrtle Beach. A group of golfers, maybe eight or 10 guys, were at a table next to me. They’d just obviously finished a round of golf and now were having a few rounds. Standard issue, middle-aged guys having some laughs, burgers and beers. 

I don’t golf but I do play the 19th hole occasionally, especially if the sun’s still out. I was a little envious of the boys having such a good time though things were winding down. They reminded me of my pals and then…

And then they asked for separate checks.

What the…?!

A couple of them were insistent they only had two Coors Lights, not three. I was appalled. These guys. I mean, they can all afford a golfing getaway but they gotta quibble over a beer or two? If I had a golf club I might’ve come out swinging. I hated myself for wanting to join their fun ten minutes earlier. I ordered two more beers and one check.

On the same trip down south, I visited friends who’d moved to Charleston. I told them about these rubes who got separate checks and they told me it was kinda common in these parts. I immediately asked the waitress what percentage of people ask for separate checks and she said about half! The Civil War was not over.

So, wait a second. You’re with friends and you’re going to break out a calculator and say, Joe, you owe fifteen dollars and forty-two cents. And Bill, you had cheese fries, not just regular fries, you owe seventeen dollars and 25 cents. I want to fight these guys, not have a meal with them.

That’s not to say there aren’t chiselers out there if you’re splitting one bill. There are guys who order like it’s their last meal on death row knowing the bill is going to be split evenly.  If the bill is being split evenly, they have to order the Johnny Walker Blue and the most expensive entrée. This is usually the same type of guy who was identified as a “pile assassin” by our once-in-a-while columnist, Beefchip. 

A pile assassin learns there is a pool of money on the bar for the group of guys. Twenty or forty bucks and that’ll take care of a few drinks and tip for each guy. He tosses his money in.  But, but, but, he’s about to game the honor system. The pile assassin now takes the opportunity to buy drinks for other people, not in the group. Buy those ladies drinks, take it out of there, pointing to the pile. He’s generous with OPM —other people’s money.

Check-splitting and pile assassination came to mind because a friend tells me he and his wife have been having dinner with two other couples forever. One couple always, always, orders top shelf and have never, in a hundred years, acknowledged that they owe extra when the bill is delivered.

This ploy wears on the other couples. But they still go out with the play-dumb chiseling cheapskates. The fault, I tell my frustrated friend, is yours.

Eating out with friends is a team game. If somebody continually messes up the chemistry, they’ve gotta get the boot. How to give the boot? Well, he could just go out without them or better, do the unspeakable and ask for separate checks. That’s right. The one time separate checks is acceptable is when it’s used as a weapon. 

See, if your regular group gets it, they split the one bill evenly, and they make exceptions when necessary. If everybody’s drinking like fish and somebody’s not or somebody is not eating a full meal for whatever reason, everybody else knows they either treat or accept only a token chip-in. 

If you order a special that’s twice what everybody else ordered, you volunteer to toss in extra. If it’s a one-time thing, your friends might refuse the offer but they’ll appreciate the gesture and be reminded why they like going out with you.

You’re not with me on this? You like the idea of separate checks? Ok, we can still be friends.  Just don’t invite me out to dinner.

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