Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mastering "Chetiquette"

It is something everyone has to deal with, be it when you're with family, friends or at a work gathering--that dreaded check question. Who pays? Mastering the etiquette of the check, which I like to call "chetiquette," can be a tricky business. Family brawls have broken out over less than this, right?

Arguing about the check at restaurants is a common thing in my family, but not in the way you might expect...we argue over who GETS to pay! My in-laws take it to a new art form, making it a competition for who can pay first. Over the years, there have been a lot of covert operations performed in fine dining establishments across the Lone Star state. Here's just a sampling:

  • Handing the waiter your credit card before you've even gotten the food

  • Lying to the waiter about why your father or mother should not pay and why you must pay

  • Making sneaky "visits" to the bathroom, to actually stop off and pay for the bill instead

  • Switching the card before your father or mother sees that they in fact are paying with yours and not theirs.

Because we now live in the same area as my in-laws, most of this has died down, except for the "special occasion" dinners. We eat out several times a month with them, and it's fallen into a predictable and fair cycle of alternating who pays, thankfully.

I will blog soon about our birthday extravaganza for my 7-year-old this weekend. It was quite the party! But, to cap it off, my husband and I planned ahead to take our family to a nearby Mexican restaurant. I made reservations ahead, even, to make sure we'd have a table. My parents were there, as were my father- and mother-in-law, sister-in-law and my nephew, along with our family.

Before the meal was over, my Dad cuts off the waiter and us by insisting he pay for the check. I told him "absolutely not" and said it "was not acceptable" because it was our way of thanking everyone for coming to the party. We'd planned the dinner long in advance, and in my mind it was ours to pay for and nothing could change my mind of that.

My father did not budge and ended up paying, which made my in-laws feel totally uncomfortable and made me embarrassed, to be honest. Have you ever been in this position before?

My husband said we should just let it go, but it continues to nag at me. It was not appropriate for my parents to pay for everyone when it was our gathering and our party. And, some of why this bothers me has to do with the fact that I know some of this came from my parents insecurities about their financial level as compared to my in-laws' as well. That is probably why it bothered me so much.

I suppose this should be a good problem to have. I'd rather have this than the family free-loaders who never pay. So, tell me, what do you do in your family when it comes to the check? What is good "chetiquette" to you? And, lastly, would you have been bothered had you been in my hostess-who-is-not-allowed-to-pay shoes?


Blogger Andrew said...

Wow ... can't you just imagine the redneck joke that Jeff Foxworthy might make out of that tussle?

"If the waitress has to clear the table so your grampa can leg-wrestle your father to see who pays the check, you MIGHT be ..."

Interesting read! Thanks.

To Love, Honor and Dismay

9:13 PM, August 06, 2006  
Blogger Babs said...

omg, I feel your pain... I would've totally wanted it to be my treat for everyone! But maybe it's one of those things where no matter how old you get, you're still their little girl. And they want to take care of you by doing stuff like this.

9:57 PM, August 06, 2006  
Blogger Grandma K said...

My family does the same thing. When we eat with my daughter and her family, as we do almost every Friday, we alternate who picks up the check. I would love to hear other suggestions about this issue!

1:40 PM, August 07, 2006  
Blogger Nicole said...

Hey, I say just roll with it. But I can see how the financial status issue can be upsetting. But I am such a tightwad I could let it go and enjoy a freebie...

3:42 PM, August 07, 2006  
Blogger Babaloo said...

I'm more in the boat of "family of free-loaders," so someone else grabbing the check would be a welcome change! And, yes I would have been uncomfortable in that was yours to pay.

3:59 PM, August 07, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Yes, I would have wanted to pay too. But maybe it made your Dad feel good to do something nice for you and everyone there. Maybe next time when you have an occasion like that, go ahead and pay ahead before hand. sigh - families, we all have em....

5:52 PM, August 08, 2006  

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