Friday, February 1, 2008

Let me get the bill

Along the lines of yesterday's post on food, today's post is about what happens when the bill comes. Here in Malaysia, and many other Asian countries, there are often mini hand battles involved in fighting for the bill. Why?

1) Friends that haven't met each other for a long time often feel they need to give each other a treat. The problem arises when both parties feel the same way.

2) People who know that they earn more than the other party. For example working people vs student or people who have been working several years vs fresh graduates.

3) People who try to show that the HAVE lots of money. Whether or not they really do doesn't matter to them.

4) Finally, there are the genuine people who sincerely want to treat the other party to an enjoyable meal. I'm usually in this category. I love food and I like sharing it with others.

Sometimes, you think you have succeeded in paying the bill only to find out that the other party plays mahjong (or something) with the restaurant owner and all your money is returned to you so that he can pay.

The winners of these battles for the bills don't stay winners for long. The original 'loser' would then feel obligated to organise another meal so that they can repay the other party. Yes, if they had just agreed to go 50/50 in the first palce, all this would have been avoided but there would have been no 'face' in that. Sometimes these back and forth treats feel good but other times, they feel a little tedious and obligatory.


John said...

The same kind of thing goes on in the US but I think the battle of who pays is more of a male thing here than a female one. Women tend to be more like "Who had the extra salsa?" (for $.50) while men may be more likely to over cover their share making the waiter the real winner.

Waiters often ask how you want the bill divided or all on one tab.

I've learned to allow others the blessing of paying occasionally. I know that it gives me pleasure to be the one treating on other occasions.

Bilbo said...

I agree with John's assessment (as I generally do)...women will whip out calculators and figure each person's share to the cent, while men will just throw $20 bills on the table...the financial equivalent of beating our chests, I suppose. I have an ongoing competition with my son-in-law over payment when Agnes and I go to dinner with him and our daughter. Even if I declare days ahead of time that we are treating, he'll find some clever way to outfox me and pay the bill before I can get it. I've learned to follow him to the bathroom if he gets up after the main course (having learned he's probably going to intercept the bill), but he's gotten even sneakier over time, sometimes passing notes to the waitress or even arranging to get to the restaurant early so that he can tell them to give him the bill before we even get there. I just hope he does this when we're old and poor instead of now, when we can afford to pay our own way!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Oh yes, it's all about calculators when a group of people go.

Kellan said...

How funny. It would be nice to have all your bills paid for - but I guess it eventually comes back to you.

Hannah Montana is a girl (her real name is Mylee Cyrus) on TV that all the little girls watch - she has a show called "Hannah Montana" and she is a singer in the show.

Have a good weekend Amanda - see you soon. Kellan

number said...

Don't understand why Asians just can't "go dutch" when it comes to payment of meals?

Maybe it is a way to make the other party feel OBLIGATED and people can have continuous meals paid for by others next time??

NomadicExpat said...

Somehow, I feel tha this post was written as a reaction of our recent meals. Haha. Aiyah, I think #1 and #4 apply to both of us.

See, I really think we should go dutch next time, ok? It's really about enjoying the meal together and NOT who's paying. Also, I dont have to fight with your parents when the bill arrives. And, for close friends, those of us who make more money than the older folks (minus your dad and that includes your mom now that she has stopped working) should be paying.

Hmm... where shall we go eat next?