Middle Class Problems: Should I question the bill or will the waiter think we're pulling a fast one?


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The Independent Online

Well, that was nice, wasn't it? Does anyone want coffee? No? Just the bill then, please.

(Appropriate pause to allow for digestion, toe-tapping and reappraisal of whether we do now want that coffee, to tide over this tricky interlude – is there time to start a new topic of conversation? – before the waiter returns.)

Excellent, so, you didn't have a drink, so you can pay £10 less, divide by five – who's got a calculator handy? – and I'll pay for us two, and that's… hang on a tick. What's this? Fifty quid for Negronis? Did we have cocktails? No, I'd remember that. Did you have one before we turned up? No, I'm not accusing you of anything. No, I do not think you'd have five cocktails on your own… No, I'm not saying you're a lush…

Should I tell the waiter? Will he think we're pulling a fast one? I don't want to end up arguing. No, £50 isn't nothing. OK, OK…

Hello, excuse me. Hi, hi… So, yes, hi, um… So. These Negronis. We, um, we didn't have them.

Well, yes, I am sure. And one of our group doesn't drink, so even if we notionally had had one, she wouldn't have, so we would have had four, not five… No, I'm not admitting it…

So it's a policy just to add them because you assume we've had a drink in the bar? That's ridic-… No, I don't need to see the manager. If you could just remove them… Oh, you need the manager to do that?

Maybe we should pay. I really want to leave before the manager comes. People are looking. Let's pretend it's a big tip, and never come back… Oh, they've added a discretionary tip, too. Just how discretionary do you think that is?