Having lunch with coworkers can be a worthwhile use of your time, depending on the circumstances. It’s often fun to get to know people just for the sake of meeting new people, and sometimes friendships can be forged over time spent having lunch together. Other times, you might choose to have lunch for networking purposes. Yet other times, you might go because you simply have to and have no real choice in the matter.
The latter was a situation I faced when I was just starting out working after college. Now, I did make some friends there that I’m still in touch with many years later. We had lots of laughs through our times as new, entry level people. Of course, that was balanced by dealing with a higher than average number of interesting characters as well, who we just had to deal with. This type of person played a role in what I’ll share as another Squirreling Gone Wild story.
This was back in the late 1990s, which seems like it might as well be the stone ages. I say that because when a group of people was going to lunch, there wasn’t an email sent to the group. Rather, people walked from one cube/office to another to spread the word about a Friday departmental lunch. Well, since it was Friday already, that meant that you pretty much had to drop whatever lunch plans you had (including a lunch you may have brought) because there were some senior people going. You just had to show up – at least that was the strong feeling that many of us seemed to have.
So, I went with the group. We went to some local restaurant, probably a chain restaurant, and had a long lunch together as a group. There must have been at least 12 to 15 people, possibly more. It’s been a while so I don’t recall exact numbers, but suffice to say the group was large.
The group was a mix of people at different levels of responsibility, as I alluded to earlier. This meant entry level people, some experienced people, as well as some more senior people.
How Everyone Usually Paid
Usually, there were not individual bills for each person. Restaurants didn’t seem to like to do that, which makes sense as it makes it time consuming and a hassle for them (and other customers too). So typically, one bill would come to the group, and the most senior person would manage the process. This might mean that she (or he) would either:
- Go through and tell each person what they owed; or
- Just take the bill and divide it by the number of people there.
Either way, as I said, one senior management member handled it. Everything was done via cash.
How Everyone Paid This Time
This particular time, there was one senior person there who had a negative reputation. I never worked for her, but had been told that she was not a particularly nice individual. People spoke about her being selfish, taking credit for others’ work, ill tempered, and things of the like. Like I said, I never worked with her or interacted with her much at all, but saw her walking the hallways with a sneer permanently affixed to her face.
Anyway, at this particular lunch, she told everyone to give her the cash for their share, and then she would take care of it. Okay, nothing unusual there. However, she said she would just take the cash and pay by credit card. She never really asked if anyone cared.
And frankly, it shouldn’t be a big deal to do it that way. I’ve done that with a group that before, where I handled the bill, so I certainly didn’t have an issue with it. However, I do have an issue with what she actually did.
She had told everyone to add extra for the tip – but asked for only about 10%. It’s been a number of years, but I recall her then saying that the waitress was making enough as it is with a big group, so why pay a high percentage when we didn’t have to. I thought that was weird and unfair, and assumed that a tip would be the same. In some places, in fact, a mandatory percentage is applied to large groups.
Anyway, once she actually collected everyone’s share – including tip – she paid by credit card.
Here’s the problem: she never paid a tip.
That’s right – she collected everyone’s money, asked for enough to cover a tip, and then charged the amount on the bill while neglecting to add a tip.
The way I see it, that’s simply ice cold.
Now, I didn’t actually see her sign the bill and put zero or a dash on the tip line. Rather, I was told this by someone who sat next to her and was a reliable person who also didn’t work with that lady. In other words, she was credible with axe to grind with that lady.
Can you imagine? With a lunch group that size, she pocketed enough to get a free meal of her own. As I think of it, her behavior totally reminds of me of these infamous people I ran into years later, and ceased to dine with again. Yuck!
I have to say, it made me believe all the negatives that were said about her!
My Questions for You:
How do you handle paying the bill when having lunch with coworkers?
Have you ever seen anyone play any games when it comes to tipping at restaurants?
What’s the shadiest thing you’ve seen or heard of someone doing when it comes to paying a restaurant bill or leaving a tip?