Trying to find a comment about Chinese people paying a restaurant bill August 5, 2012 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a comment describing a Chinese or Chinese ancestry persons description of a family arguing about who would pay the bill at a restaurant.

I don't remember where on the site I read it or the time period it was written. I remember reading it during 2010 but it could have been written any time prior to that.

The commenter was (I think) responding to someone else in a thread who had described what it was like among his ethnic group arguing over paying a bill.

The commenter, using hyperbole, then described a scenario in which two male Chinese relatives would argue over a bill and how it would escalate from "No, I insist!" to both parties standing up and grabbing for the bill.

The comment included something about slapping the other persons hand if he had managed to get his hand on the bill.
posted by mlis to MetaFilter-Related at 8:33 AM (18 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Is it this ask metafilter answer?
posted by neustile at 9:04 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes! Thanks neustile!
posted by mlis at 9:12 AM on August 5, 2012

Incidentally, the cultural background to this sort of thing is discussed a bit in Act 2 of the "Americans in China" episode of This American Life (presuming that listening to TAL isn't what reminded you of the AskMe comment in the first place!).
posted by scody at 10:30 AM on August 5, 2012

The commenter, using hyperbole

just so you know, that's not hyperbole—that's what picking up the tab is actually like in a lot of asian countries, not just china!
posted by lia at 11:09 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not hyperbole, Mrs A was back visiting friends in Houston this week. She had her credit card swiped out of her hand by our friend so that she couldn't pay for dinner. This is a regular occurrence when dealing with Asian family members and friends.
posted by arcticseal at 1:03 PM on August 5, 2012

It sounds like the old "white elephant" gag where you inflict shame on a loved one by doing them a favor or giving them an extravagant gift. Nobody wants to be indebted to family, so they fight over the tab. It gets old really fast.
posted by Renoroc at 3:20 PM on August 5, 2012

Sook-Yin Lee told a story about her family members scheming to make sure that they got to pay when eating out, but I can't find the correct episode yet. The 2011 episode on fighting about food isn't it.
posted by maudlin at 3:28 PM on August 5, 2012

(Episode of DNTO, that is.)
posted by maudlin at 3:29 PM on August 5, 2012

My old college roommate at NYU (Sophomore year) had been roommates with Jake Hoffman (son of Dustin) the previous year. As his family was from around NY and the Hoffmans were from LA, my roommate's family took the Hoffmans out for dinner during that orientation weekend. Dustin Hoffman went off to "use the men's room" and snuck the waiter his credit card, telling him to just bill it for whatever the amount of the bill turned out to be.

When the check came already paid-for, my roommate's father was quite offended.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:39 PM on August 5, 2012

Navelgazer - I use that trick as well (sneaking the credit card to the waiter on a trip to the bathroom) and managed to offend friends of my wife once (though I cleared it with her before doing it) as they were paying for our accomodation and lots of other stuff on a trip we did together.
posted by Admira at 7:18 PM on August 5, 2012

It's not hyperbole. When I was a guest in China, I got tired of everyone treating me, so one time I tried to pay for the whole meal myself. My hosts physically blocked me from getting through a hallway to reach the counter. They are serious about hospitality!
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:27 PM on August 5, 2012

I work in food service, and I see this from many ethnicities, daily. Even had one college aged kid get me to lie to his parents and say their dessert was on the house so they wouldn't know he had paid.
posted by Night_owl at 11:31 PM on August 5, 2012

But is it forced generosity (like when I 'force' visitors to take the last biscuit because I love them) or is it manoeuvring yourself into a stronger position? I can't tell!
posted by woolly pageturner at 4:24 AM on August 6, 2012

It gets old really fast.

Not as fast as the one in-law who refuses to let her husband ever pick up the check, even when they're the ones who invited everyone out to eat in the first place.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:08 AM on August 6, 2012

The Italian way is to grab the check, and when the other party protests, puff yourself up and bellow "Don't insult me!"
posted by HotToddy at 2:02 PM on August 6, 2012

The British way is for everyone to say, 'No, no really, you mustn't, really, no, I'll, er, yes, well, um, must be my turn, oh really? well, perhaps, no, no, really I should' simultaneously for five long fucking minutes, at which point the person who first intimated that they intended to pay does so.
posted by jack_mo at 8:55 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: It gets old really fast.
posted by MattMangels at 11:10 PM on August 7, 2012

The other british way to handle the bill.
posted by zippy at 10:59 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

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