Sunday, 3 May 2009

Why we still don’t live in a post-feminist world: Reason #2398

My partner and I went out for dinner the other night for a treat, and it was very nice indeed. Good food, nice service, lovely warm dining room, lots of cheesey 80s music.

Then we finished the meal and the wait staff asked my partner if we’d like the bill now. I said yes please. The little black folder (why do they do that?) was brought over and placed by my partner. We discussed how we would pay for the meal* and my partner put the appropriate piece of plastic in the folder. The wait staff returned and carried out the transaction, throughout smiling at me but talking about the payment with my partner.

When it’s regular practice to put the bill in between diners, rather than automatically giving it to the man at the table, that’s when I’ll believe we live in a post-feminist world. We’re clearly not there yet.

* Our finances have been married for many years, so it was about which account to use.


Cactus Kate said...

I think staff are trained to spot couples. You obviously looked like an old married couple so of course the man would pay. Why would any woman pay to take her husband out for dinner?

katy said...

I can see how irksome this must have been if you were the one leading the bill paying. Maybe worth saying something next time? Maybe they weren't aware they were doing it?

"Why would any woman pay to take her husband out for dinner?"

I can't say that it makes me feel any less special if I use my card from the joint account rather than him using his. In the division of labour in our household I end up looking after the finances which my husband loves because it means he doesn't have to think about it. My guess is that this isn't that unsual?

Random lurker said...

Next time you visit a restaurant try the following:

Greet the waiter on the way in, with solid eye-contact and a polite smile, preferably with a handshake (your parter may also greet the waiter, but only after you). Ask to be directed to your table. During dinner make sure if something is needed you do the asking and if either you or you partner needs to attract the attention of the waiter, make sure it's you that does it. You don't order for your partner, but you direct the waiters attention towards your partner when it is time to order (it's only polite to let your 'guest' order first by the way).

(Take it in turns with your partner for different restaurant outings)

Finally when it comes time to pay the bill, remain quiet and see if the waiter addresses you or your partner with regards to payment.

Or was that how the evening went on this occasion anyway?

I suspect that if you were to establish early on that you were the 'host' of your party then it is you that would be addressed regardless of your gender. Food&Beverage staff typically would be reluctant, I suspect, to not address anyone in particular (for example leaving the little black folder between the diners) for fear of seeming to provide impersonal and poor customer service.

Lucy said...

A very similar thing happened a couple of weeks ago when my friend's mother took my friend, me, and my partner out to dinner. They gave the bill to my partner - the only male at the table. This in spite of the fact that when you have one well-dressed middle-aged woman + three semi-casually dressed people in their twenties, including one with *graduation regalia*...who's most likely to be paying for the meal? Hint: not one of the young people.

(My partner was really gobsmacked, actually - it took him a second to work out why they were pointing the little black thing at him...)

Oh, and Cactus Kate? I pay to take my fiance out for dinner. That would be called "my turn to pay". I doubt it's that uncommon.

lauredhel said...

Ohyes. And wine lists, and the first bit of the wine to taste.. it goes on and on. I've noticed restaurants a little better about the tasting over the past 2-3 years, tending to ask who's going to taste, or take cues from who ordered the wine.

A friend of mine went shopping with her husband for a suit. When it came time to pay, she handed her AMA Gold Card (name on card: Dr ObviouslyFeminineFirstname Surname) to the shop assistant. The assistant ran it through, then handed it to her husband to sign. Her husband handed it to her to sign, and the assistant snatched it away from her, castigating her "No, the DOCTOR has to sign!"

Joanna said...

I don't dine as a part of a couple very often, but usually it's me who is offered the wine to taste, because it will have been me who ordered it. I can't remember the last time I had a bill put on the table in front of me by any restaurant staff. I obviously need to up my class quota.