'Sorry but I just had the salad?'
A big dinner out with a group of 18 friends was drawing to a close. Someone gestured at the waiter to request the bill. ‘How shall we do this?’ he said when the leather booklet was placed on the table. ‘Let’s just split it eighteen ways’ said someone else.
Nothing abnormal about that, except this ‘group of 18 friends’ were actually all supremely rich Formula One drivers – one of them Lewis Hamilton, whose net worth is around £140 million.
Lewis was pretty embarrassed about it all.
‘It was a little bit silly really’ said Hamilton later, ‘because someone said: “Let’s share the bill,” so 18 drivers shared a bill which is just insane. It probably wasn’t really that expensive. I did say: “Why don’t I just get it now, or two of us get it now, and then the next time someone else gets it?” And they are like: “No, no, no. I want to pay individually.”’
‘We all got a receipt, 18 receipts, 18 credit cards, it was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I have never seen anything like that before.’ Who exactly was the skinflint who suggested they all pay up individually, Hamilton was asked. “I am pretty sure it was Nico.” If you’re not clued up on Formula One drivers the Nico in question is Nico Rosberg said to be worth around £20 million himself.
And in case you’re wondering, the bill for dinner came in at around £900 a head. Twice the amount we’d pay for a large group dinner. But, you know, each.
It’s reassuring to know even multi-millionaires suffer from an attack of the awkward turtle when it comes to splitting the bill at the restaurant. In real, non-F1 life, here’s 11 things which inevitably happen.
1) Someone will say ‘can’t we just split it 12 ways?’
Half the group will agree to this.
2) But then someone just had the salad
And that was only £9.50 so could they pay less? Less than old £25 Fillet McSteak Face at the other end of the table.
3) So then someone will volunteer themselves to be Group Finance Director
While everyone else is sitting in a food coma, this person will dutifully pull out their iPhone calculator and start number crunching the shit out of all those mains, sides and puddings – possibly with another male member of the group looking over their shoulder – chopping off the wine bill and divvying that up by number of drinkers, offset by people who had coffee, divided by salad person, plus one plate of doughballs and a chips to share.
4) But if no-one volunteers then GFD will have the job thrust upon them
This honour will usually be bestowed on an accountant or maths teacher.
5) If it’s a group of over 15 people someone will conveniently just forget to pay
Or… you know, ‘forget to pay.’
6) There will be a lot of resentment towards ‘Wine Group’ at the end of the table who kept re-ordering and inhaling bottles of Merlot which increased the whole table’s alcohol bill by about £70
‘I only had two glasses. Why is it £25 for wine each?’
7) Someone will then appoint themselves sub-Finance Director
Picking up the bill when the Group Finance Director puts it down and re-scanning because ‘that can’t be right can it?’
8) Some joker will suggest they just play credit card roulette
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9) A whole load of people won’t factor in the tip to their final amount
So the whole thing comes up £20 short. Does anyone have cash? No? Fuck.
10) The waitress will hate everyone
It’s 11.30pm and now she needs to charge 18 individual people with a card machine when she’s also got to clear all those other tables and get to bed at some point before her triple shift tomorrow.
11) The discussion will continue in the taxi home
‘I’m going to put this out there. I’m pretty sure Sam didn’t pay.’