Category Archives: separate checks

The Argument FOR Separate Checks

There is always an ongoing debate about separate checks. History tells us that servers do not like to deal with them, but with advanced technology in restaurant computer systems, separating a check is now as easy as pushing a few buttons. When servers really get their aprons in a twist is when customers do not tell them in advance that they would like separate checks and wait until the last minute to throw a wad of bills and several credit cards on the table while yelling out what they are paying for. I understand the point of separate checks, I really do. Sometimes, you just want to pay for what you had and not a penny more.

Last week I had a six top in the restaurant. Some people were ordering apps and cocktails while others were not. When it came time to pay the check, I heard the blow hard at the head of the table belch out, “Hey everybody, let’s just divide it six ways; 28 bucks apiece.” From my point of view it was great. Their bill was $142 which meant I got a $26 tip, or 18%. Yes, I earned that tip with my stellar service and for not cutting a bitch when a a six-top showed up 20 minutes before closing time when there was no one else in the restaurant and my side-work was already done. They gave me mostly cash and and one credit card and it was all easy, breezy and beautiful. Well except for the one guy who got totally shafted by the “let’s all pay 28 bucks apiece” plan.

The man who had the great idea of splitting it equally had two cocktails ($18.00), a calamari ($8.00) and a burger ($10.50) His total was $36.50 before tax and tip, but he was getting off with paying a fraction of that. Meanwhile, Mr. Milquetoast on the other end of the table had mussels ($8.00) and fries ($3.50) and water for a total of $11.50 before tax and tip. He was being screwed sans lube with a basket of fried calamari and he was just going to take it. Maybe he only ordered $11.50 worth of food because he only had $11.50 worth of money. I watched the man struggle with the decision of whether or not to speak up about it and then hand over twenty-eight dollars. It was clear he did not want to do it, but he didn’t want to be that friend in the group who looks like a cheap ass bitch.

I would have been the cheap ass bitch who said something. The guy at the head of the table was a real loud-mouth son of a bitch who monopolized the conversation and cracked way too many unfunny jokes. The man on the other end of the table seemed quiet and shy and probably chose to sit as far away as possible from Mr. Douchey. Had it been me, I would have declined the invite as soon as I found who else was going to be there. But this guys wasn’t me. If he was me, he would have said:

“Um, guys. I hate to be the cheap ass bitch at the table, but I only had an app and some fries so I’m only gonna pay for mine. It was $11.50 plus 8.87% tax makes it $12.52 plus a 20% tip is $15.02 so I am leaving a total of $17. Yeah, I’m leaving two extra bucks to help cover which ever one of you skanks is gonna to try to stiff the server. Here’s a ten, a five and two singles. Outta here, buh bye.”

But he wasn’t me. So he basically said:

“Um, okay, here’s my money. I only have a twenty and a bunch of singles. Twenty-eight? Is that right? Okay, here’s twenty-eight  dollars, I guess. Next time, can you please use some lube or a pat of butter before you screw me because this is rather uncomfortable. You’d think I’d be used to it by now because I have no spine or backbone which makes it all the more simple for me to get fisted right here in the restaurant. Oh, what’s that? We’re short four dollars? Let me reach into where my balls used to be and see if I have any more money. Okay, I do. Here it is. Sorry it’s wet from my tears of pussification. Thank you everybody.”

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Separate Checks, Continued

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?

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Fat Waitress

I went out the other night in what was meant to be three or four of us of us at a bar and it quickly turned into eight people who wanted food so “could we find a restaurant instead?” I was not in the mood to go to a restaurant but majority ruled so I sucked it up and went along with the group. We ended up at a sports bar that added salt to my my wound instead of my margarita. Wait, I wanted to go to the piano bar across the street with five dollar frozen drinks and now we are dragging my ass to a freaking sports bar? Come on.

We showed up at a place that was an hour from closing and there were about three people in it. We were those people who showed up when you ready to get the fuck out and we ask for two tables to be pushed together. And then someone in the group uttered those words that make my skin crawl and my face sweat: “can we have separate checks?” I was mortified. But I guess the waitress was used to this request because she didn’t bat an eyelash and said it would be no problem. Out of the eight of us, two people ordered fries. Why did we need to scour the area for a restaurant so two out of eight people could order fries? Why didn’t they just pop their ass into a McDonald’s on the way to a bar? Grrr.

We ordered our drinks and it took fucking forever to get them. I have a lot of patience for servers as you know, but when it is clear that we are your only table and it takes you more than ten minutes to get drinks, I get grumpy. The waitress was really fat. Like The Biggest Loser fat. Like the kind of fat that made her legs cave in resulting in a serious case of the knock-knees. I guess the kneecaps were so tired of supporting 400 pounds of Criscoand carbs that they finally had to lean against each other for support. I looked around to see where Corpulent Connie was with my mother fucking margarita when I saw her huffing and puffing to put chairs on top of tables. As our drinks sat on the bar. Bitch, do your sidework after I get my drink. She finally waddled over with our cocktails and gave one person a frozen rita when they had asked for a rocks one. She said, “oh, I suck.” No one contradicted her. “I guess I’ll just have to drink this one,” she burped. Uh huh. We all know that trick. I invented that trick: tell the bartender you rang in the wrong drink so you can pour it into a coffee cup to drink as you do your paperwork.

She brought our check over forgetting that someone had ordered a dessert. He mentioned the missing caramel whatever-the-fuck and she said, “oh, did you still want that?” He ordered it didn’t he? My own theory is that she rang it in, ate it, and then had it voided off the check saying that he changed his mind. Another tired trick that I invented.

I had one drink for $7.00. I gave her a ten which was about a 40% tip. She sucked and all, but we were in there late at night and I know what that’s like. She deserved that $3.00 tip. Plus, I happen to know that the local grocery store is having a sale on Lean Cuisine frozen dinners for $3.79 each and I thought it was good start towards the diet she needed to go on.

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