‘Breakfast Mondays’ have kind of deteriorated into ‘Butterfield’s Mondays’, since it’s the most convenient place for my friend and I to go to. But fear not – we shall brave the famous International House of Pancakes (which is really not that international) next week!
I think we’ve had enough Breakfast Mondays to call it a tradition, and although it often starts differently every week, it usually ends like this:
Waiter: Would you like anything else?
Friend: Could we get two boxes? Oh, and the check, please?
Waiter: Sure. I’ll be right back.
(insert random conversation between Friend and I)
Waiter: Here you go ladies.
(I grab the receipt like a ninja)
Friend: What the – hey, that’s not fair! It’s my turn to pay!
I: Ya snooze ya lose. (grin wickedly)
Friend: ….Nicola. Give. Me. The. Check.
(Friend tries to look serious but fails miserably by LOLing like crazy)
Yes, very childish, grade-school behaviour can be found in the little booth of Butterfield’s Pancake House. But I find it fun. It’s a pretty accurate imitation of what I saw while I was growing up in a Chinese family, anyway. Parents fighting over the bill always made the kids roll their eyes and/or laugh at such antics, so I kind of missed that here. Here, you often find that no one bats an eye when you offer to pay for the meal – instead of getting any sort of resistance, they’re more likely to say, “Oh cool. Thanks!” It leaves me feeling a little deflated. So some good advice for those planning to visit any Asian country – FIGHT FOR THE BILL! Or else everyone would think you’re being a little rude. Meals are Serious Business in Asian culture, so if you want to charm others, this is the way to go.
I grew up playing the game Snap! a lot with my overly competitive brother, so I have pretty fast reactions. There are other tactics I’ve seen being employed by various family friends and relatives. Some such tactics include:
- The Regular Customer. Person uses his status as being a regular customer at the restaurant to make a deal with their server beforehand, ensuring the bill never reaches anyone else but him.
- The Reasoner. Person brings up the fact that the other paid for their last meal together, therefore it is only fair for him to pay this time.
- The Deal-Maker. “Let me pay this time, and you can pay next time.”
- The Waiter-Whisperer. A variation of “The Regular Customer”, only there are no regulars in the party of people. In this case, one person brainwashes the server into bringing the check to him.
- The Flash. This is the tactic I often use, which involves lightning-fast reflexes to grab the check out of the waiter’s hands. Only works if you have a faster reaction time than the people in your party, though. Best used in parties of two (because the waiter can approach between the two of you instead of walking up to one side of the table).
- The Wishbone Fighter. Happens if the bill is snatched up by two people. In this case, whoever manages to tear off the bigger, more important piece of the bill wins. Not ideal, as it may just end up destroying the bill.
- The Senior Citizen. In most Asian cultures, social hierarchy is automatically decided by age, so the younger generation is expected to defer to the older generation. Plus old people tend to be super-stubborn, so trying to pull a Wishbone Fighter against one is not a good idea. A slight variation of Senior Citizen is the “I’m-older-than-you” tactic, which is the same thing, only that the oldest person in the group isn’t old enough to be called a senior citizen. Of course, this tactic only works if you’re the oldest person in the group.
- The Money-Maker. Only works if everyone else in the group doesn’t have an income. The person makes the excuse that they have a job, and money to spend, therefore they should be the one who pays. Good ol’ logic usually wins in the end.
- The Distraction. “LOOK there’s a three-headed flying monkey over there!”
- The Opportunist. Person pays for the meal while everyone else is busy chatting or visiting the washroom.
Of course, different scenarios call for different strategies. Make sure to factor in the number of people going, where you’re going, and where you’re sitting, because it’s the details that matter the most! But whichever tactic you use, I bid you good luck, and happy hunting! And remember the MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF ALL: Be absolutely, positively, one-hundred-and-ten percent sure that you actually have enough money to pay for the meal! Or else you’ll be horribly and irreversibly embarrassed for the rest of your life!!!