Why Eating Out In Large Groups Sucks

A column in the Sunday New York Times Style Magazine humorously confronts the all-too-common and obnoxious issue of splitting the check at a restaurant with a large group of people, especially when you don't even know half of them.

Back in the day, when I still thought it was fun to drag 12 people to dinner for my birthday, I remember fretting for hours to find just the right priced spot so no one would feel robbed. The stress (and guilt) of it all finally broke my will, and I stick to smaller gatherings these days.

But sooner or later, you find yourself at a table with a crowd, having to fork over way more than you anticipated. A split check among close friends is one thing. It all comes out in the wash. But among coworkers and casual acquaintances, the split check can create a lot of tension.

After paying $25 for a sandwich and water time after time with coworkers (it's always someone's birthday, isn't it?), I started ordering with less frugality. Appetizer? Why not. Dessert? Sure. Beer numero dos? Oh yeah. But I always felt bad for the holdouts, still carrying the dimming torch of separate checks.

Where do you fall on the spectrum of check-splitters? Go for the lobster since you know everyone's absorbing the cost? Stage a subtle protest and attempt to get the waitress to let you pay separately? Or are you one of those "it-all-works-out-eventually" types? Maybe you flat out refuse to eat out in groups larger than five? Sound off in the comments.

And we won't even touch the issue of group tip calculations. For another day...