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What if someone pays the check and tips you with just one bill? How do waiters get that tip off of it?

As a family law attorney, I am in a unique position to give you the correct answer.

Before paying the bill:

  1. Calculate the tip.
  2. When paying the bill say, “Please give me X number of small bills with the change.”

After receiving change when you forgot to ask for small bills:

  1. Say, “I’m sorry. I forgot to ask for smaller bills. Could you please break this into X.”
  2. If you didn’t calculate the tip before you receive your change, just wing it and err on the side of giving a larger tip. At this point making your waiter wait for you to get your act together is just keeping him from attending other customers.

What does this have to do with Family Law?

Much of the reality that we “know” is built on deeply held beliefs, past experiences, and our own emotional quirks both filling in information gaps and hiding information from us. In this case, you have one piece of information that you are aware of – that you only received one large bill as change. You also have another piece of information that your brain hid from you – that you did not ask for smaller bills.

If you have had past bad experiences, such as being tricked out of money or your ex cheating on you, then your brain will filter your reality to match. In other words, your brain creates an information gap by making you ignore the fact that you didn’t ask for smaller bills. Then it fills the gap with made up stories about how the waiter wants to cheat you, is lazy, stupid, or has whatever other imagined flaws that you could not possibly know exist.

For example, if your child falls into the pool while your mom is watching him, it’s a typical childhood accident. If he falls in the pool while your ex’s girlfriend is watching him, “Holy Moses, that witch trying to murder my baby!” That’s not an exaggeration. Our emotions can make us a lot crazier. That doesn’t mean that your ex’s girlfriend isn’t trying to murder your baby. It just means the evidence you have isn’t going to get anyone else excited no matter how hard you try.

The solution is simple. Have your own set of rules that you decide on ahead of time and just live how you think you should without worrying about what is in somebody else’s head. Have a rule that you will always ask for smaller bills when paying your bill, and another that you will always apologize and ask for smaller bills when you forget.

Those rules will work in every situation whether the waiter is a scumbag or a hero, and they save you the trouble of having to pass judgment.

Good luck!