This past weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with my cousin, his wife, and their kids. They live across the country, and were in the area to visit her family. We got to meet up with them for brunch, and have a short visit and reconnect.
We agreed to meet a place I had suggested, in the same town where they were staying, but about 40 minutes from my home. My thought was that I wanted to limit their driving, and plus I knew a good place for brunch for us to meet. As it turns out, the place at which we met – the one I suggested – had a 1 hour wait. Not ideal for a group full of young children! So, we got in our cars and headed over to another local place where the wait was maybe 15 minutes.
As we were getting seated, the waitress asked in passing if we wanted one check or separate checks. My cousin quickly replied that we wanted one check. At first I paused and thought “wait a minute, I hope he doesn’t think he’s picking up the tab!”, but then I quickly forgot. Figuring out where the adults will sit and where the kids will sit ended up distracting me a bit. Such is the life of parents of youngsters:)
Anyway, we had an extended brunch, talked about a few family-related tings, and then the check came. At that point, I assumed that I would be picking it up.
Why, you ask?
Well, you see, I think that if people are from out of town and are taking time to meet you, it’s being kind to try to pay for the meal. I realize not everyone would see it that way, but I do. Now, they didn’t travel to the area specifically to see my family, as we were a side visit for them. That said, they are my relatives, and they don’t live around here. So, I wanted to buy them brunch when I met them.
So with that in mind, let’s review the options to be considered in this situation.
- I pay, since I live locally and they’re from out of town (my preference)
- He pays, since they’re from out of town paying us a visit
- We split the bill
- We pay for what we ordered (they had 5 in the party, my party had 3)
The most equitable and fair approach for any meal regardless of circumstances would be #4 – we pay for what we buy. However, I just didn’t want to do that with family from out of town, even if it’s the most fair approach.
Thus, I just felt like the best approach was to treat them.
Well, it didn’t go down that way!
When the waitress brought the check, my cousin pounced on it like a tiger going after raw meat. He insisted that they buy, and his wife chimed in a bit as well. Despite my protestations, they bought the whole meal.
Those of you who read Squirrelers regularly might remember my article on The Extractor, where a couple I know regularly skipped out of paying for meals. I hated that. So, the idea that I let my cousin and his wife pay for the whole meal clearly isn’t something I would have chosen!
Anyway, they were well-intentioned and gracious and I hope I accepted the meal graciously, and that’s that. Of course, I have a long memory, so he won’t be able to pull something so easily in the future:)
My Question For You
How would you have handled this situation?
Would you have been like me, feeling an automatic need to buy them brunch – and a bit guilty afterwards when they bought?
Keep in mind that he may be reading this:)