Thursday, August 05, 2004

Did I Invite You Or Did You Invite Me?

What is the proper length of time to leave a check on the table and wait for somebody else to pick up the tab? Here's the deal:

Being in the legal business, I frequently meet software vendors. In this case, my contact person I think was named Todd but I wasn't paying attention, had been wanting to meet me and take me to lunch for the last couple of weeks to give me his salespitch. His exact words were, in fact, "take me out to lunch". Cool. A nice meal and he's paying. Not so fast.

I met him at a place downtown for lunch a couple days ago, and when we were done, the waiter put the check on the table. I waited...and waited...and waited... Then I think to myself, "That motherfucker isn't going to pay!" Damn! Dude invited me to lunch and I'm going to be stuck with the bill.

Then I start to think that maybe he's waiting to finish whatever bullshit story he was telling, so I sit back and wait some more. No go. I try to make non-chalant eye movements toward the bill, as to maybe jog his memory that HE INVITED ME TO LUNCH! Nothing. Is he ignoring it? Pretending it isn't there? Making non-chalant eye movements in its direction hoping I'LL grab it up? Have I completely lost my marbles? Now this is getting awkward. I start to casually lean forward, trying to misrepresent the fact that I might be reaching for the bill. Suddenly, he leans forward and I shift my weight again and pull back. Dude was only reaching for his drink. I was out-flanked! This is war!

Let's try something different, more strategic, if you will. I slowly put my hand in my back pocket, another scheme devised to make the enemy think I'm paying. Holy shit! Now he's doing the same thing! What to do? What to do? Think quick. I cleverly grab the waist of my pants and give them a tug like I'm pulling them up a bit and rest my arms on the table. WTF! All he did was scratch his ass. This guy's good.

Maybe he's waiting for me to make give some subtle hint that lunch is officially over and that I need to get going. I put my napkin on the table and say, "I really enjoyed meeting you. Let's do this again sometime." "Same here.", he says....then it gets silent. Neither one of us is moving. Okay, this is bullfark. I start to think over and over, "Pick up the check. Pick up the check." like I'm casting some kind of spell over him. Hey, you get desperate in a situation like this. So now we're at a standstill. I hear music from the Outlaw Josey Wales in the background.

wa-wa, wa-wa, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

wa-wa, wa-wa, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

We're gonna be here all fucking day.

Beads of sweat start forming on my forehead and it's getting hard for me to swallow ('sup ex-wife?). I can't take it anymore and blurt out, "Let me get that." Curses. Foiled again. I do the "reach of shame" and slowly drag the bill in front of me and open it up to see what the damage is. Whoooo boy! All I'm saying is that it's Pabst for me at home the rest of the month.

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