April 1 2013 04:05 PM

How to handle stingy little check-dodging weasels, and other useful tips

Ed Decker

More often than not, when dining out with friends, the responsibility of figuring out the check typically falls on me.

It makes sense. As a sorta-kinda control freak who's pretty quick with basic math and has worked in the service industry for the past 25 years, I'm an efficient and reliable check-figurer-outer (CFO). And I really don't mind doing it, except, of course, when having to deal with stingy little check-dodging weasels.

You know about these people, right? These chum-sucking, check-ducking, cheap-ass charlatans who'll do whatever it takes to avoid paying their fair share? Such as the snake who conveniently slithers off to the bathroom moments before the check arrives; or the dastard who neglects to factor the tax and tip on his bill; or, worse, the rapscallion who pulls the old, "I had the frog-leg linguini, so all I owe is X," conveniently forgetting he also ordered three glasses of champagne, the coeur á la créme and the hunks of gruyere cheese aged in Catherine Deneuve's timeless vagina.

Then there's Jonesy, a "friend" who likes to play Mr. Big Spender when dining with a big group. Jonesy will run up the tab by ordering appetizers, extra sides, booze and desserts. He will order shots for the table and make grandiose statements like, "Y'all just have to try the Sumatran-orangutan tempura," then order five plates to be passed around the table, making everyone think, Wow, what a fine and generous fellow. Only, he ain't fine and generous. He's a conniving, lowlife bloodsucking scallywag—because 15 to 30 minutes before the check arrives, he'll announce that he has to pick up his wife at the airport, drop a wad of bills on the table and be gone. 

And you can't count the money before he leaves because that would make you the untrusting worm who's nickel-and-diming everyone. So it isn't until long after he's gone, when the bill arrives, that you realize the "wad" he left was composed of fives and ones and barely enough of them to cover his entrée, let alone tax, tip and five frickin' plates of orangutan tempura.

There are countless other ruses, but you get the point. We need to put a stop to this! Are you hearing me, you little weasels? No longer shall we fall victim to your chicanery. To this end, I have created the Ten Commandments of Check Splitting. I urge all you veteran and novice CFO's to laminate it and pass to your group whenever dining out:

Preamble: "Yea did the CFO climbeth Mt. Sinai and come upon a flaming soufflé. And the soufflé said, "I am the Lord thy God. Inscribed upon these tablets are Ten Commandments of Check Splitting, which I created one night after Satan ordered the pan-seared souls of bastard babies platter and expected me to chip in."

1. Thou shalt be truthful about what thou ordered: This is the first commandment for a reason. When figuring out what thouest owes, remember thine appetizers, thy dessert, thy booze and thy tax and tip.

2. Thou shalt not be a disappearing bathroom scallywag: If thou does leaveth the table to avoid paying, thouest should expect everyone to be gone upon return—except security and management—who will be waiting with bill in hand because when we left, we said, "The guy in thy bathroom is paying."

3. Thou shalt have no false CFOs before me: Do not alloweth more than one check-figurer-outer to figure out the check. There is only one true CFO, and it gets confusing if too many people try to do it at once.

4. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's appetizers: Did thou sampleth the appetizers ordered by others? How was the shrimp cocktail thou hath scarfed? Did thou enjoy the satay? Well, then, chip the fuck in, Rikki Tikki Tavi.

5. Thou shalt not say thy server's name in vain: Do not forget a generous tip when factoring the amount thee oweth. Do not complain of a mistake on thy bill unless absolutely sure. And, for crissake, do not ask for separate checks. 

6. Thou shalt honor thy vegans: Do not make thy vegan companion payeth as much as everyone else, because thy vegan only had a plate of celery and thou had the minced monkey pancreas marinated in the hormonal secretions of clubbed baby seal.

7. Thou shalt not screweth over thy teetotaler: If thou is having dinner with thy buddy who is on the wagon and drank only coffee, while thou had 10 beers, six cocktails and three shots, do not expect him to pay the same as you.

8. Thou shalt not kill—the festive mood of the dinner party by making a big deal about small amounts: If thou has been asked to pay $20, but feel like thou only oweth $19, pay thine extra dollar and suck it up already, thou.

9. Thou shalt honor thy CFO: Being CFO is a high-pressure job: Do not sass him with any of thy lip. Do not impugneth his credibility. Do not bellow to the gods if a mistake is made. Just calmly make thy case that thou would never have ordered the frog-leg linguini because thou art allergic to amphibians.

10. Thou shalt not commit adultery: Do not play footsy with thy buddy's wife beneath the table. It doesn't have anything to do with check-splitting, but I needed a 10th commandment.   

Write to ed@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.

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