Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

How To Split A Check At A Restaurant

Eating dinner with a group of people at a restaurant can be fun. You know what's not fun? Trying to figure out who owes what when the check comes—when Jenny, like, only got the roasted beet and goat cheese salad, but Freddy got some stupid $38 hamburger (THE MEAT IS FROM PAT LaFRIEDA, OKAY?!), but Jenny had three cocktails compared to Gabby’s single glass of Pinot, so maybe Jenny actually owes more than everyone else, because those cocktails were $16 each (THE BARTENDER, EXCUSE ME, "MIXOLOGIST," USED ANGOSTURA BITTERS AND HAND-CHIPPED ICE, OKAY?!), but Franny says she owes less since she didn’t even order an entree on her own, even though she definitely took bites from half the main courses at the table, which was super annoying (ugh, such a Franny move), and everyone went to a stupid liberal-arts college so no one has the math skills to properly figure this out, and, you know what, this totally isn't even worth the aggravation, the waiter looks like he wants to stab us with a salad fork, why didn’t I sit at home and get a pizza delivered, I don’t even really like you people! So yeah, splitting the check can be stressful. Here's how to deal.

If you are under the age of 25…
You are probably poor! Because of this, it is OKAY to look at the bill and figure out exactly what you owe for the food and beverages you consumed, in addition to whatever tax and tip is appropriate. Some people will try to get you to split the check evenly because it's tedious to go through and figure out that Johnny owes $24 whereas Lisa owes $32 or whatever, but that $8 difference is a drink at the bar later, so stand your ground.

NOT OKAY, however, is to be that person who got a $10 appetizer and a $20 entree and throws in $30 and hopes that no one else notices. People notice! Don’t be that person. Everyone hates that person. (Why is it always the same person?) In this day and age, tax and tip add 28% to the cost of the meal, which is not an insignificant amount. Do you really want your friends to hate you over 28% percent? If you don’t have the cash, that's rough, but you'll have to put it on your card anyway, even if you're already behind on your payments.

(And I really hate to generalize/be sexist here, but young attractive females try to pull this off all the time. They're all, "Oh, ha ha, I’m sorry I’m a little short, smiley face!” I’m glad you have a nice smile, I really am, but if you’re not even sleeping with me, why am I paying for you? Your less cute friends don’t pull this shit; they're civilized and understand that not everything in life is handed out on a silver platter. This is one reason why there should be a law requiring YAFs to pass some sort of basic etiquette test before they're allowed to hang out in public with the gen pop. Honestly, is there any sub-species of human more ill-behaved than a young attractive female? I don't think so.)

Oh, and if you don’t have cash on you—which you probably don't, because you are poor—you'll probably have to ask the waiter to put different dollar amounts on different cards. Recognize how annoying this is and please leave a nice tip.

If you're under 25 and not poor, you probably work as an analyst at an investment bank and make a magnitude of 5x-7x as much as your friends. If this is the case, throw them a bone and just pick up the tab every now and then? They'll appreciate it.

If you are over the age of 25…
Did you not drink as much as everyone else? Was your pasta entree half as expensive as the steak? Did you not get dessert? I'm sorry, but no one told you to be a teetotaler, or to not get the steak, or to not get dessert, you pussy. When you agreed to go out to dinner with your friends, you implicitly agreed to the following social contract: “I, (your name), hereby agree that when the bill comes, I will pay my share of the bill, calculated as follows: Total cost divided by # of people, regardless of who got what and how many. I further agree not to publicly complain about this methodology, even if I get a little screwed, because there will be times in the future when what I end up paying is considerably less than the dollar value of what I eat/drank. It evens out over time. Sincerely, (your signature).” Granted, there are obvious exceptions—e.g., you showed up late and really did only order a glass of wine—when no one would expect you to pay a full share, yet even in these cases it's generally polite to throw in some cash.

Now, the observant among you have read this, processed it and realized that in a group-dining scenario, one is effectively incentivized to order lavishly and imbibe irresponsibly, because not everyone else will, and thus what you end up paying will be disproportionate to what you actually owe, meaning that you make out like a bandit while your schmuck pals who exercise restraint in the name of fiscal responsibility end up subsidizing you. This is correct! The guy who behaves like a reckless asshole always wins, so long as there are people around to bail him out. Have you learned nothing from CNBC's coverage of the myriad crises surrounding our financial-service industries?

So basically, when in doubt, go ahead and have another $16 Rum Swizzle. It's practically free!

Neel Shah notices that you go to the bathroom every time the check comes.

Photo by VolaVale.

216 Comments / Post A Comment

Pop Socket (#187)

Father Sarducci had this worked out years ago.

@Pop Socket
I think everyone should pay for their part, split shared things and tip on that amount. It gets a little strange with friends, but I think having a neutral party (like an app) removes the social stigma.

There's a good app on iPhone to help with that, it's called Splitt. http://www.getsplitt.com

IBentMyWookie (#133)

Or you could have just typed out "ask for separate cheques," but then how would you have randomly and unjustifiably railed against anonymous young straw women for not being everything you think is good in the world?

Oh wow, strongly disagree. Separate checks! Those are for people under 25. (I have strong opinions about this, nothing personal, LOVE YOU.)

IBentMyWookie (#133)

Pah! It's so much more convenient, especially for those of us who can't divide without it ending in tears. Also, it precludes any of the above-mentioned resentments.
I will however grant you that there is a price ceiling on cheque-splitting. Anything over, say, $80 should be dealt with as a group.

"We'd like to split this $80 check 8 ways." No offense, but your server wants to kill you.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

well, my server can (a) just fucking deal;
(b) find me a wealthy husband to underwrite my meals*
also, you ask for separate bills before the main one arrives all they have to do is push a button, usually (mind you, I assume most everything is accomplished by pushing a button; maybe they have to do it all by hand. Either way, so it goes.)

*or get me a better-paying job, but I REALLY WANT TO MARRY MONEY.

Vicky (#7,168)

When I was a waitress, the splitting folks would sometimes write their last name and the amount to be charged to their card on the back of the check. This was totally cool, except for the fact that it *always* came up too short.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Yeah, separate checks are not a big deal usually (especially for me, because the majority of my multi-check meals are in couples – it is NOT a big deal or rude or unbecoming to ask for two separate checks for two separate couples). It's a button on a touch-screen in most cases.

They are not for people under 25, though people under 25 are more than welcome to utilize the separate check strategy if they like. But as mentioned, only utilize said strategy at the beginning of a meal – springing it on the waitstaff later is a dick move. And as boyofdestiny points out, some places automatically give you the option from the outset – I happen to live in an area that does so (northeastern Kansas, if you're counting).

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

I've noticed that in certain parts of the country (eastern Georgia, central North Carolina), separate checks is the default. This is obviously delightful for patrons, because I would never under any circumstances ask for separate checks if the option weren't explicitly offered.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

@CHL yeah Separate checks are only good in ADVANCE.

allyzay (#321)

As much as I actually think this article gives out awful advice, your advice is the worst! Not only is it irritating for the server (and no, it is not as easy as "pushing a button"), it screws up shit for the kitchen too. EVERYONE: DO NOT DO THIS. EVEN IF YOU ARE UNDER 25.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

I don't go to a restaurant to make life easy for the kitchen. Sorry. I go to a restaurant to eat and drink and socialize and have other people make and bring me my food. I will be nice to you and I will tip you generously, but don't operate under the illusion that I give a fuck if I've inconvenienced you.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

EXACTLY. If you're a waiter or waitress, I will be polite and patient with you and not put up with anyone at the table giving you attitude. I will tip generously (especially since i only RECENTLY discovered that 20% of $40 is not, in fact, $15) but other than that, do your fucking job.
And for crying out loud, if your main concern is how much your waitress likes you at the end of the day? Change your name to George Costanza and learn to cook.

caitface (#10,310)

Really, you only recently discovered that 2 x 4 /= 15? I am sort of impressed that you made it into adulthood with such crummy math skills! Bravo! /edited to add: sarcasm, not trolling :)

LondonLee (#922)

Yeah, forget that whole being considerate to another human being thing.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@LondonLee: Correct me if I'm wrong, Lee but I believe in England whoever has the biggest knife determines how the check is split and also, who lives.

City_Dater (#2,500)

But I bet you whine like a spoiled child when your appetizer shows up with your friend's entree and your other friend's salad because your meals are moving through the kitchen as food for three separate tables, because you can't sack up and learn to split a bill like adults. *eye roll*

IBentMyWookie (#133)

I'm flattered that you think I dine at places that serve appetizers. Unless that's the American term for "onion rings."

Morecowbell (#238,178)

@IBentMyWookie "I will be polite" entails not being a pain in the ass. Splitting checks at the end of the meal is being a pain in the ass. Therefore, you are not being polite.

cherrispryte (#444)

@Vicky – as someone who frequently dines out with large groups, and does the whole "last name and amount on the back of the check" thing, isn't it fairly standard that whoever's the last name down just puts "rest" on theirs, meaning "put whatever hasn't been covered on my bill," resulting in it being impossible for things to come up short? Or is that just something my friends came up with?

deepomega (#1,720)

If you can't do the math to figure out what 20% is, maybe you should just put down a crisp hundo and speed walk to a fucking GED course instead of quibbling over whether there's any reason to make the waitstaff's life easier.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

Oh blow me, Mathlete.

katiechasm (#163)

For the record, I'm a waitress and making separate checks is not that difficult. Your server knows exactly what you ordered and diners are right not to care about whether it's more difficult for the staff and kitchen.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Thank you, Katie. Nevermind all the waitsplaining going on in here.

garge (#736)

To add to the record, the difficulty is relative to the software, the sections-per-waitstaff dynamic of the restaurant, among countless other variables. If I have a section of ten tables, and my two eight-tops suddenly want separate checks, the dining experience of my other patrons will suffer. I could add another ten thousand words of musings, but I really just came here to state that I am not of the four people who thumbsupped Deleted by user's comment up there, FYI.

deepomega (#1,720)

@garge: I think that any attempt to claim that splitting checks is never a hassle is negated by the waitstaff I know who hate it. And as in all aspects of my life, I'm gonna come down on the side of "making life easier for other human beings", even if the particular human being I'm dealing with doesn't care about splitting checks.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

Quick question: when you're at a bar ordering a martini, do you just tell the bartender to combine whichever bottles are closest at hand? Otherwise, you're totally making him do too much!

deepomega (#1,720)

No, but I also don't insist that the bartender stand behind me, pouring the drink into my open mouth whenever I give her a signal. (The signal would be me opening my mouth.)

((On a slightly serious note, what we're really talking about is the hassle-to-payoff ratio here. Splitting a check is (I've been told by several waiter friends!) a pain, and the only reason to do it is lack of foresight on the part of the diners. It is very easy to avoid, by bringing cash or by dividing evenly. It is also what I'd consider a hack to the dining experience – akin to asking the waitstaff to bring you a glass of ice and pouring your own liquor into it.))

IBentMyWookie (#133)

Not really about lack of foresight; sometimes you don't want to, or can't afford to, pay for others' meals, but still want to engage in the communal meal experience. And comparing asking for separate cheques to bottle-feeding et al. is disingenuous as best.
At any rate, I should get back to my online GED course at this point.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

One more thing. If I drink more than my fellow diners, it's more of a dick move to make them pay for part of (by splitting one check equally) than it is to make the waiter/ess give us separate checks. If I'm going to inconvenience someone, it sure as shit isn't going to be my friends – it's going to be the person whose job it is to bring me the check.

(Hypothetically, of course, because I'm so not a lush. And really, all things equal, I'd rather just split one check equally. But I'm not going to feel bad for the times we get separate checks, just because some overly-sensitive blog commenters are horrified by the thought.)

carpetblogger (#306)

Given that it's the twilight of the human race and people have been trying to split checks since checks were engraved in stone, why haven't restaurants figured out a way to GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT? Shouldn't there be an app for this by now? Sheesh.

SeanP (#4,058)

Former waiter here, and I'm with the separate checks people. For one thing, every time I've gone out with a group of people in recent years (even in quite large groups), the first thing out of the server's mouth has been "do you need separate checks?" Back in the day, it was quite difficult to deal with separate checks for big groups. But we have computers now, people. If separate checks were still that hard, the wait staff wouldn't be offering them up to all and sundry.

katiebakes (#32)

I agree with all of this.

NinetyNine (#98)


Tyler Coates (#451)

Me, too, Katie. I think it has something to do with the fact that we are established non-Millennials.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I like the way the comments to which Katie's comment is a response keep changing. Because I am stoned.

dado (#102)

Once, while dining with a check splitter, we received a bill for $117.50. We asked the waitress if we could split it 50/50, she responded by asking, "well who's going to pay the $17.50?"

saythatscool (#101)

I really miss you, dado.

dado (#102)

We will always be digitally connected…

katiechasm (#163)

Hahaha, waitresses are dumb, 50 can refer to either percent or a dollar amount.

This is why I refuse to dine with people under 25, or in parties greater than 6.

doubled277 (#2,783)

This is why I never leave the house

C_Webb (#855)

My kids are always skipping out on checks. Luckily I know where they live.

Bittersweet (#765)

Yeah, my 2nd grader is a terrible that way. Welsher.

mat (#2,476)

As someone who is never That Guy who complains that something is offensive, this is offensive.

It doesn't help that the first paragraph is a parade of jokes/references that are, uncannily, almost exactly 20 months old.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

And Angostura is pretty pedestrian, as bitters go.

@SidAndFinancy: OH THANK GOD I'm not the only one who got to the end of the article and couldn't think about anything else. Seriously, calling out a drink for its fanciness because it's got Angostura bitters is like calling club soda "exclusive."

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

I think he may have Angostura confused with Angora.

Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters in a Manhattan FTW.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

I like the grapefruit, but yeah.

MollyculeTheory (#4,519)

I kind of like to add one drop of the Fee Brothers cherry bitters to Manhattans too *ducks girly head*

I only drink in places where the bitters are made "in house."

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

Honestly, is there any sub-species of human more ill-behaved than a young attractive female? I don't think so.


boyofdestiny (#1,243)

This is a true fact. Always get a salad. Always make sure you drink the last bit of wine in the bottle. Always get dessert. Always get bourbon/scotch/port with dessert. If you're not hungry, stay home and not eat!

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Hmmm. The world will never know what I considered to be a "true fact" up there.

Bittersweet (#765)

boyofdestiny, man of mystery!

The answer starts and ends with separate checks, with a detour about TWENTY EIGHT percent tip. I don't know if you're using that number just because you're in a group setting, or what, but I'm not tipping a third.

cherrispryte (#444)

TWENTY EIGHT percent was tax and tip combined, buddy.

face. palm. embarrassment.

allyzay (#321)

It includes tax and tip. If you are picking out just your line items, you need to then add 28% so you are including the tax at the bottom too. This does not apply if you are dividing equally, or if you are the absolute worst and doing separate checks.

joshc (#442)

you know, why not just go crazy and make it 30%? That math is much easier and makes up for the check splitting by 2%.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

I'm… not a fan of the passage about young attractive ladies, partially because feminism. In fact I'm also bored by the old har har about "I'm not even sleeping with you, hot chick" trotted out around here [ETA: by HERE I mean THE INTERNET], but I realize I'm like that.

That said, I believe firmly in separate checks if (a) there are people under 25 at the table or (b) some attendees are unemployed/students of any kind. Otherwise, split evenly.

Luckier (#857)

also (c) if you're going out to eat with someone who has screwed you on the bill before. Like my friend Dave. Don't go out to eat with that guy.

mishaps (#5,779)

When there are people under 25 dining with me and my Olds, or unemployed/students of any kind, typically the Olds are buying.

Also, yes, to the feminism.

cherrispryte (#444)

Also, fuck you and your misogynistic bullshit, Neel Shah.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

What a jarring and completely unnecessary parenthetical aside that was.

C_Webb (#855)

Yeah, I don't see anyone administering an etiquette test to the UOM (Ugly Old Men) who have FUCKED UP THE ENTIRE WORLD.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

I believe Neil LaBute calls it "humor," cherri.

cherrispryte (#444)

I believe hiding offensive bullshit under the "humor" umbrella doesn't make it less offensive.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

Oh, cherri, I am not arguing with you there. If there's someone who believes a Neil LaBute comparison is a compliment it ain't me.

cherrispryte (#444)

Ah, oops. This is what I get for being remarkably culturally ignorant, sometimes.

neel (#239)

Sorry! I was just speaking from personal experience! I have been out on many group dinners where the party who is short happens to be a young, attractive girl, and her response, in my personal and not universal experience, is generally the same. What do you want me to do?

I am 100% certain there are Young Attractive Men who pull this shit, too. I just probably don't dine with them that often.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

There is a rather large abyss between "I was just speaking from personal experience/I am 100% certain there are Young Attractive Men who pull this shit, too." and "Honestly, is there any sub-species of human more ill-behaved than a young attractive female?"

You're gonna have to insincerely backpedal a little harder.

neel (#239)

"Honestly, is there any sub-species of human more ill-behaved than a young attractive female?"

I actually stand by that part.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

Just not the "sorry"? I think you'd be a great fit for AskMen.com, Neel.

cherrispryte (#444)

I want you to realize that just because you have had certain personal experiences, extrapolating them to assume they apply to an entire section of the population is wrong and not a good thing to do.
You've heard that stereotyping is a bad idea, right? I want you to not do that.

mat (#2,476)

actually, you weren't just speaking from personal experience, you were admitting you were generalizing

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

There is a big difference between saying "women are not nice to me" and saying "women are not nice". One of them is a lot easier to believe.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

It's less jarring when you consider that "Neel Shah" types don't see women who pay their own way (or even treat others to food and drinks) as "young attractive females" (to be fair, there is often a difference in presentation, but still).

MollyculeTheory (#4,519)

I pay/overpay my share. Oh god I'm old and hideous and nobody will ever lovvvvvve meeeee.

But I love you.

allyzay (#321)

Unless you are in a scenario where you have agreed upon in advance to split the bill (for example, a birthday dinner or going away party where the honoree usually is not expected to pay, so everyone shares the burden), it's completely and 100% normal at any age to just pay for your line items + tax + tip. I don't know anyone who thinks this is weird at all, and I'm neither poor nor still under 25.

And don't get separate checks! Bring cash (you knew in advance you were going to dinner, guys, I have maybe only been randomly ambushed by a group dinner like 3 times in my whole life) and just do a tiny bit of basic math, people. It's super easy unless you have gotten so trashy drunk that you can't read (don't ever do this at a dinner, wait til afterwards and go to a bar so it isn't so $$$$). I'm saying this as someone who failed math multiple times, so I'm certain it's easy to do.

djfreshie (#875)

Totesally agree. Just pay for your shit. Separate checks aren't necessary, and neither is paying for your friend's surf and turf. That's ridiculous, and the whole thing shows a lack of trust in your friends' abilities to calculate their own meal and tax and tip. "You only have 20s? NO BIG DEAL. You can owe me 5 bucks." That anyone thinks we need rules for this tells me there are a lot of people who are just terrible at being friends/a little bit altruistic. You don't have to be under 25, and to be honest, I think that if you're over 25 (and probably are friends with people who have massively varying incomes and lifestyles) then you have also probably developed the capacity to be sympathetic to your poorer friends, and your richer friends will probably understand that you didn't want dessert, can't afford the calamari appetizer, and just wanted to pay a little bit of money for a modest meal for the opportunity to spend a little time with people whose company you enjoy.

Also, carry some fucking 5 dollar bills and change with you at all times, assholes.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

> Also

Transportation out of the city follows regular schedules, which can be found online.

SeanP (#4,058)

The trouble with this theory: the aforementioned dumbasses who only throw in enough to cover the actual cost of their line items, and not the tax & tip. It's surprisingly hard (and really uncomfortable) to figure out who the guilty party is in a large group.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

There are direct flights to Atlanta now, I understand.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

You don't really appreciate the absurdist humor of this piece until you think carefully about the premise: large groups of people who regularly go out to eat in each other's company in New York without having some excuse for expensing it.

forrealz (#1,530)

deeply in love with most of this, BUT: there are YAMs in this world too, buddy.

pajamarama (#6,019)

Does anyone have any advice for what to do when eating with That Person? It's always just a couple more bucks he/she needs to put in, so it sounds petty and Dinner Police to ask him/her to put more in, but also like, shit adds up.

Luckier (#857)

Once when the check came, I put my lion's share down, and my friend put down a few bucks and said "I can't leave a tip b/c I'm broke." I pointed out to him that we were at my local and his failure to tip reflected poorly on me, put in an extra few dollars and then next time we went out insisted on separate checks. He got the picture. Another friend regularly does this so, when out with her and another group of girlfriends, we just automatically add everything up and tell her what she owes.

Bittersweet (#765)

We knew a guy like that in grad school, who paid *nothing* and said he 'had to hit the ATM' after dinner and never paid anyone back. We stopped inviting him after free dinner #2.

sigerson (#179)

Neel Shah! Neel Shah? Aren't you on the Early Show or something? What are you doing on my Awl? Douches are not allowed and I thought we were done with you after this abortion of a post:


It's just Neel's comically small penis talking.

hman (#53)

Or his small 'picnic basket' I guess.

good to know that international women's day isn't raining on EVERYONE'S parade.

CatsInBags (#3,656)

beat me to it.

jolie (#16)

@Maura: Yup! And I'll add a big ole shame-shame fingerwag at the editors for running this insulting mess.

sox (#652)

This is my favorite part of this whole thing and then some.

@jolie: Editshaming = NOT COOL.

#56 (#56)

Women's Day AND Fat Tuesday! I'd say the editors planned this one perfectly.

Abe Sauer (#148)

This whole thread gets a "Ha!"

kneetoe (#1,881)


kneetoe (#1,881)

That HA! was @Abe.

HA, you call that an edit function!

roboloki (#1,724)

just pick up the fucking check and say "this one's on me". see, math can be easy.

ejcsanfran (#489)

I'm confused. I just pay the person at the counter who takes my order for a double with cheese, biggie fries and a coke. Am I doing something wrong?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

If you are not an American this is the best part because you get to make fun of how stupid about it Americans are. Then, as you try to figure out what to do, you realize you are even dumber than Americans. Now at that point it gets really hilarious, especially in a diverse group where everyone gets laughed at according to the worst stereotypes for their ethnic/racial/religious/cultural background. Finally, you hit on waitstaff, give them a huge tip, and knock over and break a bunch of glasses on the way out.

cherrispryte (#444)

The best case scenario for these types of situations are when it's happy hour and everyone else just keeps throwing money on the table when they head out, and then you and your three (semi-alcoholic) friends are left at the end of the night and realize that nobody remembered that happy hour prices are really cheap, so there is in fact almost more than enough money and you only need to pay $10 after drinking for 5 hours.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I have absolutely been there and it is a sweet place.

cherrispryte (#444)

Oh the things that happen after a long night of drinking.

LondonLee (#922)

Me too!

I've also been in the opposite place which isn't so sweet.

KarenUhOh (#19)

Well, this pretty much explains why attractive people won't eat with me.

Grant Barrett (#10,312)


British people and other people who can say "cunt" without smirking or devoicing should leave 20 minutes before the check comes. You'll do that anyway, because of something involving "whip rounds" and "not your turn."

If you work in public radio, pay on your own at the register or the bar, for only your share, because you do not want people to see your smegmaed cracked-in-half debit card and because you're not even sure if there's enough money in that account. Pay to the penny. Tip next time.

If you work for a newspaper, ha ha. Just kidding. You do not have to pay. Your estate will pay because your liver killed you or you killed yourself or you're a media consultant now and everyone else killed you. So, free dinner!

If you work for a local news startup, you must pick up the tab. You have long since recognized that the startup funds are the only real money you will ever see. Spend it now! Some of the other eaters may have jobs for you after the implosion.

Bloggers should pay about 50% more than they owe to make people believe you when you say "Those Chitka ads are really bringing it in!"

Television people should pay with a credit card that still has the bank sticker on it with activation instructions. It's the perfect accessory to your hot date, your hints at a recent divorce, and your stories about the unexplained "club."

Everyone buys the photographer's meal, but the photographer pays in having his party pics posted around the Internet the next day without credit or a linkback.

LondonLee (#922)

Grant, you're a cunt.

Bryan Keller (#3,804)

Just meet everybody afterwards for drinks. Big group dinners are almost always horrible.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Jeepers, Thought Police. The author's remarks are entirely flippant and harmless, in this (female) reader's view. I probably will get yelled at now which, whatever.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

Well, if one lady diagrees with another that certainly cancels their opinions out. Not to "yell" at you.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Not the point of saying so at all; don't want to cancel anyone out (or be canceled.) Just, I'm sure you'll agree that my remarks would sound different coming from a guy.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

Not exactly, Maria. After years spent with feminists, who are always accused of having a "party line" on things, I really have a hard time believing women share opinions about anything.

I think that comments like yours sound, regardless of gender, like just agreeing with the status quo, in which the above passage somehow qualifies as "thought," to use your formulation? I don't see the brain gears turning in it that you're seeing. I just see lazy "bro"ism.

barnhouse (#1,326)

I respect your position but we just disagree about this, is all.

I'd like to hear Tionna Smalls weigh in on this.

neel (#239)

Sheesh. Thanks!

(Want to get dinner some time?)

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

I don't think that people who use the word "female" deserve to live, let alone to have access to a keyboard.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Thank you. This piece explains perfectly why I will never publish any writing on the internet.

@dntsqzthchrmn: Unless you're into EST training, in which case, FULL SPEED TO COMMENTS THREADS.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@Gef: I like to think of it as that group therapy show with Judd Hirsch, Dear John?

deepomega (#1,720)


cherrispryte (#444)

Wait, you figured out how to edit comments without it looking like a fuckshow?! HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!

deepomega (#1,720)

I was bit by a radioactive comment! (I have no idea? I've never had issues, aside from the old apostrophe duplication thing, and paragraph breaks get eaten when I edit so I have to be sure to add them back in.)

C'MON BIG 200. Dig deep, people!

hockeymom (#143)

The worst dinner splitters are not attractive young females.
The worst are middle aged, hedge fund managers out to dinner in Beaver Creek. These are the people who smoke cigars when it's a no smoking area, are complete dicks to the waitstaff and make a point of never ordering anything exactly off the menu. And then when they get it, they send it back. They have more money than they know what to do with and seem to have forgotten where they came from (even though you may remember them drunk, poor and passed out in a bar in college. And have the pictures to prove it.)

In any case, these people will order the most expensive bottle of wine. Then order more and more, trying to impress the rest of the table with their knowledge. They'll also make a big deal of tasting the wine before it's poured. And they'll be condescending to the sommelier. Then, after they've ordered approximately 3-thousand dollars worth of wine, they'll say "Let's just split the check", even if you just had a diet coke and your husband had a beer.
THOSE people are the worst.

hockeymom (#143)

Oh, and apologies to all 45 year old hedge fund managers who own homes in Beaver Creek, have part ownership in private jets and fly in private ski instructors from Australia to count how many vertical feet you ski each day.
I sincerely hope I've offended none of you.

roboloki (#1,724)

i hope they're not offended but i do wish them a slow, painful death.

cherrispryte (#444)

These are also the people who insist "you don't tip on alcohol!"

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Am I the only one who tips on coffee?

Tulletilsynet (#333)

The rule for tipping on coffee is the same as the rule for tipping at the bar: tip right and you get free refills when nobody's looking.

rich bachelor (#8,586)

Shit! You tip the Most on alcohol!
Lest you be served a Grey Snail…

atipofthehat (#797)

I also tip based on time. If I spend 3 hours in an empty bar doodling on napkins and drinking one drink, I pay for the hours as well as the drink.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@hat: Ah they disabused me of that one back at Limbo (olds, represent), where they also introduced me to the Noriega eviction-by-music tactic.

CaptBackslap (#10,313)

Does this article's author own a restaurant or something? Agreeing to split the check evenly is a great way to increase the total bill, since people will be more inclined to "get their money's worth" by increasing the cost of their own orders. And it's not true that it evens out over time; vegetarians and teetotallers (of which I am neither) will consistently subsidize the seafood lovers and drunkards.

And most times they forget the waiter has already added a 15% gratuity and end up leaving a double tip.

LondonLee (#922)

Well who wants to be friends with teetotal vegetarians?

Tulletilsynet (#333)

"I went to dinner with a vegetarian last night." — "I know, right? I went for drinks with a teetotaler."

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I expect the differences of opinion expressed in the comments section will be cleared up pretty definitely in tomorrow's posts to be entitled "How to Split a Goddamned Check" and "Splitting the Check Seems So Smart, But I Am Also Scared about Splitting the Check."

"Listicle Without Commentary: 16 Ways To Split A Check, In Ascending Order Of Awkwardness."

scroll_lock (#4,122)

There will also be an adorbs video of bears splitting a check by way of their huge claws.

The correct way to split a check is to eat dinner in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda and get the Awl's readers to pay for it.

I've got this one covered, just you wait.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Was there ever any doubt of it?

This comment thread makes me sad: I was looking forward to dining with some of you!

atipofthehat (#797)

Hey, I'm paying!

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Will you make us that 4th date steak instead?

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Yeah, this comment thread is going to make the next Awl Steakhouse Bawl pretty awl-kward.

I, for one, am fully in agreement with you, C-Ro. (In this, as in all things.)

theheckle (#621)

I don't need bitters. I'm a hipster. Bitters come standard.

I agree with Mr. Shah. I just find it funny that we are getting bill paying lessons from a guy who, probably, has not paid for a meal while dining out in NY for at least 3 years.


neel (#239)

@resipaloquacious @choire sicha


rich bachelor (#8,586)

And it still bears saying: a party of three can split the check. A party of eighteen may go fuck itself if it decides at the end of the meal that they can't figure out some better way.

A.R. Chrisman (#2,964)

I'm not even sleeping with Neel Shah, why am I clicking through and getting him a cut of the ad revenue?

scroll_lock (#4,122)

This has gotten ugly. Check, please.

HiredGoons (#603)

"everyone went to a stupid liberal-arts college so no one has the math skills to properly figure this out"


cherrispryte (#444)

And yet, if you pull out your iphone to use it as a calculator, I WILL FUCKING KNIFE YOU.

HiredGoons (#603)

Madam! As if I wouldn't use an abacus!?

SeanP (#4,058)

@cherrispryte: are you opposed to the iPhone calculator in general or just to figure out restaurant bills? I agree that trying to get your share of the bill figured out to the cent is lame, but I do use the calculator in a lot of other circumstances.

cherrispryte (#444)

Just for figuring out restaurant bills, really.

Maybe my arithemetic is better because I tutored a lot, but if you're a fully grown, educated adult and can't add and subtract in your head, I'm judging you a little bit.

carpetblogger (#306)

Uh oh. I don't use an Iphone though, just a regular phone calculator (what did we do before those? I don't know). Does that make a difference? I can't add or subtract under the best of circumstances — alcohol consumption renders those higher faculties completely inoperative.

Flaneur (#998)

This all makes me feel old. It's been years since I've been to a group dinner where this came up. My friends and I just order whatever, split the check evenly regardless and make sure we confer on the tip if it's not already included (generally 20% of the total).

But back in the day, yeah, nightmare. One time on vacation, everyone at a table of eight agreed to split evenly–except one woman, who insisted (while her boyfriend, who didn't yet know what a horror she was, was conveniently away from the table) that she owed $10 less than everyone else. So finally someone else put in $10 more.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Ugh, people like that are the worst. I've run into that on more than one occasion. "NO, I DON'T OWE THAT MUCH. I ONLY HAD A SIDE SALAD AND A WATER. YOUR MATH IS WRONG."

SeanP (#4,058)

Separate checks, people. This kind of wrangling isn't just horrifying for the diners, it's a real pain in the ass for the waiter too – probably more so than just making out the damn separate checks.

HiredGoons (#603)

my dinners come with a pre-nup.

Aatom (#74)

I'm a "split evenly" kind of asshole. But fatties and uglies have to get the tip.

piminnowcheez (#10,327)

So, poor vegetarians/teetotalers over 25 should just stay the fuck home, is what I'm taking away here.

freetzy (#7,018)

Yes, and they should really take a few minutes to think about their life choices.

osmium (#7,705)

always eat alone fuck humans

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Always eat alone are belong to fuck humans. Fixed.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Our favorite element is referring to the tasty snack "alone fuck humans"

HiredGoons (#603)


Miles Klee (#3,657)

Neel Shah Is Moving To Restaurant City

hephep (#10,335)

So basically this advice isn't, like, advice.

elm (#10,340)

Right. So, you know there's an app for this, right?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Holy shit, 180 comments. Way to work the controversial angle. You should show this to Denton or somebody.

Doug Henwood (#6,729)

The dismal science makes its contribution: http://management.ucsd.edu/faculty/directory/gneezy/docs/splitting-bill.pdf.

The abstract:

Uri Gneezy, Ernan Haruvy and Hadas Yafe
When agents are ascribed selfish motives, economic theory points to grave inefficiencies resulting from externalities. We study a restaurant setting in which groups of diners are faced with different ways of paying the bill. The two main manipulations are splitting the bill between the diners and having each pay individually. We find that subjects consume more when the cost is split, resulting in a substantial loss of efficiency. Diners prefer the individual pay to the inefficient split-bill method. When forced to play according to a less preferred set of rules, they minimise their individual losses by taking advantage of others.

mrschem (#1,757)


William (#142)

Gneezy taught me.

Speedy Gray (#6,451)


troisturtle (#10,346)

I think all of this is incredibly gauche. I'm 22 and think asking for separate checks is beyond tacky let alone fighting over the bill. I always just want to split it down the middle although some people try to hem and haw about it. My biggest irritation though: lousy tippers. Tip is 20% unless the food is terrible, service is non-existent or you're eating at a bottom rung chain or diner. I have a friend who leaves a dollar no matter how much she has paid for dinner. This is why some restaurants won't split bills for large groups because they immediately include a 20-25% gratuity and it can be lost in the shuffle.

This whole thread is complete hell. I'm paying for the hot chick and myself plus tax/tip and an extra $20 for good measure. The rest of you can go fuck yourselves.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Read this as "hot chick and myself plus taxi" which, yes.

knifey (#10,360)

cheapies can suck it. You think you're gettin in on this fancy champagne I brought to the next party to share? Or invited even? Pincher, PLEASE

I'm sorry, but no one told you to be a teetotaler, or to not get the steak, or to not get dessert, you pussy.

So those of us pussies who don't drink should just never go out to eat with others unless we want to pay for their drinks, which we should probably do as penance for being such pussies who don't drink, because we are pussies?

Kudos for calling teetotalers "pussies," though. That is a totally original and mature move that I have definitely never seen before.

digitaljoe01 (#10,388)

Hey guys – For those that often go out with groups, I wrote a program for this very same thing. It's free, I'm not trying to make money on it – just had a problem and tried to fix it and share it. I even wrote in the ability to split with a birthday guest (so everyone else pays for them) splitacheck dot com. Happy for comments and questions.

Tracy King (#10,410)

I'm currently a waitress. I have also recently acquired my Education degree and have been waitressing for the last four years. It must depend on the restaurant if splitting checks is difficult or not. At the restaurants I've worked at, it wasn't that hard. It may take a few minutes to make sure everything is right. What makes it hard is when people move about the table and change seats and order random food and drinks throughout the dinner. Then is it extremely hard to figure out who had what… and those are the times I want to strangle the people but usually those are people that are rude anyway. For those people that "don't give a fuck" if they make it harder on the waitress… that's your own demons. I always think of other people. Maybe that's because I have worked with the public for so long. You learn to love the people and hate the people. Tips have paid for my school, my apartment, my car, food, electricity, water, clothes. It has been my way of life. This job has also given me the flexibility to work and go to school. It is definitely not an easy job, it is the most stressful job I've ever had and I hope to ever have.

Asa Hawks (#5,190)

Or, you know, you could pay what you owe plus tax and tip. And not come across as a misogynist asshole. Just saying.

Bullet Mouth (#10,437)

For straight-to-the-point advice on matters of a similar nature, check out Bullet Mouth at http://www.bulletmouth.com.

F_You (#10,438)

What an ass, seriously, on so many levels. Misogynistic, narrow minded, sophomoric …etc…
Not even worth the read…

harimirch (#10,439)

I strongly disagree with the over 25 rule because that rule a) assumes that people over 25 can't be poor and b) expects the assumed to be rich people to just pay because they can afford to… which i believe is the general theme of this article: If you're poor be frugal, if you're wealthy just suck it up and pay… I'm sorry but it sounds like some sort of messed up Robin Hood story gone to hell. All's fair in EATING and PAYMENT. Earlier he wrote something like "if you're an investment banker making 5x – 7x the amount everyone else is making just pick up the tab once and awhile…" is he insane?! Which brings me to my next point. If you're a poor less than 25 something year old, actually scratch that if you're poor IN GENERAL, and you KNOW you're poor, why are you buying a $38 dollar hamburger? Slap yourself. This is why we had the housing crisis. People were duped into buying homes they couldn't afford thinking they'll just deal with the payments later… and then one day soon later, they're homeless… shocker. So people, in general, LEARN early through paying for your meals at restaurants with your buddies and your "YAFs". I don't believe in this robin hood CRAP. "take from the rich give to the poor." Shut the hell up. Everyone, just pay for your shit. Grab your stupid calculator on your phone (everyone has a freaking smart phone now and if not your rich over 25 something year old buddy sitting next to you will have one) add the shit you bought add the tax and PAY THAT SHIT. it's not hard! How to pay in a group setting: 1. know how much you can afford, 2. calculate your shit 3. add tip 4. PAY THAT SHIT. The. End.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Neil Patrick Harris' character from How I Met Your Mother has a byline at The Awl now?

Bos'un's Mate (#2,461)

With a large group, I'll ask my fellow diners to toss me the cash they owe. "Don't worry if you're short", I'll say then drop the total onto my company's charge card.

DuchessDana (#10,468)

hirimirch..FANNED AND FAVED TO THE 10TH POWER! It seems as though the author is saying "If you're over 25, then subsidize everyone else!" F**K THAT! What needs to be said is "If you can't afford to pay for EVERYTHING YOU CONSUME + TAX + TIP, THEN STAY HOME! Why should I be penalized because I have a good job, have worked hard and can pay for my entire meal. As far as seperate checks, most established restaurants have computerized systems in place; however, this request should be made at the start of the meal.

Taber Andrew Bain (#10,506)

I'll echo others that have pointed out that how to best handle this is very much a regional thing — here in Central Virginia, checks are typically separate unless you ask for them otherwise explicitly, whereas in Boston, you'll get ripped to shreds by the waiter or bartender if you dare ask to split them, even before a single item is ordered. I don't see the evil in separate checks, personally — it makes everyone feel more comfortable, and makes sure everyone pays their fair share, so what's the great harm?

Skoffin (#10,511)

You know what mobile phones come with these days? Calculators. Perhaps you should learn how to use one.

Personally, I don't hang out with schmucks and thus do not have to be concerned about this 'even split' nonsense. It's not hard to figure out who should be paying what and you'd be a pretty pathetic adult if you actually expect other people to cover your bills.

Meghan Nicole (#12,077)

Yikes! I remember the days when paying the dinner bill with friends was this much of a mess. But now I've been using http://www.paydivvy.com to split the bill and it makes things so much easier. I'm no longer left with fronting the entire amount and I can just pay my true share. So even if I just ordered a salad, that's all I pay for.

Harsh, but true

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