The post about separate checks really touched a nerve judging by all the comments. It seems that most servers don’t mind doing them as long as we know up front and can prepare them in advance. With the computers that most restaurants use today, it’s not that difficult to do. Where I work, our computers are so old that it’s still a pain in the ass. Our machines are one step up from taking the order with a chisel and stone tablet or writing it on a cave wall with the blood of a woolly mammoth. The last post was all about separate checks from the perspective of the server, but this post is from the customer’s point of view.
When I eat out with a large group of people, I too like separate checks. It just lets me know that I am tipping what I want to tip. If it’s just a big pile of cash and I add a 25% tip for my portion of the food, someone is always going to take that as an opportunity to only leave a 10% tip for their portion. No one likes to be the one who handles all the money at the end either because invariably it is short and you either have to add extra dollars yourself or call out some cheap ass friend in front of everybody. Either way, it’s awkward.
It reminds me of this guy in college. Whenever we would do a show, we would all go out afterwards and celebrate. I’m sure that the waitress at Racine’s loved seeing a group of ten college kids show up and order frozen drinks and french fries. God we were obnoxious. We’d leave our stage makeup on so everyone would know that we were actors and totally cool. Embarrassing to even think about that now. Well, we never got separate checks. We would all just figure it out and pay cash. All of us except for one guy. He always put it on his credit card and kept the cash so he wouldn’t have to go to the bank that week to get money. I was never sure about what kind of tip he was leaving and it was before I was a waiter so I probably didn’t care that much anyway. It happened all the time. “Oh, let me put it on my credit card and you can pay me cash.” We were all young and it was a time that most twenty-year olds didn’t have credit cards.
Months later, when I was having a conversation with Mr. Fancy Credit Card, he let slip some vital information. He mentioned that the credit card he always had with him was actually his father’s card and it was his dad who paid the bill. Wait, what? It all clicked. Every time we went out with him, we were just giving this guy our money and he knew that his dad was going to pay for everything. It was quite the nice income I imagine. Basically, he could convince a group of people to go to dinner with him and he could pocket a hundred extra bucks. What an asshole. I quit falling for it. From then on, I insisted that we all pay with checks or on our own tabs. He surely felt the cut in his income seeing that his friends were no longer giving him his spending money. Other than that, he was a nice guy. Sneaky, cheap, dishonest and he looked like a lizard, but nice.
In conclusion, separate checks are a good thing. The customers are all paying for what they got and tipping what they want. The server is not going to get screwed by someone who decided there was too much money in the pile and he pockets it himself. The only time that separate checks are absolutely pointless is when two women (yes, it’s always two women) order two Diet Cokes and two house salads and their bill is exactly the same and they still demand separate checks. And then they give you twenty dollars apiece and say keep the change. What the fuck is the point of that?