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D & D

March 14, 2014





I’m taking a break from my travel posts to share a disturbing occurrence with you. This might compromise the opinion many of you have of me but it’s said honesty is the best policy and…and…I just can’t believe I did it. I’ve heard of people doing this intentionally; back in my salad days lots of teens and college students bragged about doing it, but I figured it was just bluster. I never imagined I’d be guilty of such a thing.


I was seated in an Indian restaurant with my good friend Jo Barney, who you might remember from her guest post at Chubby Chatterbox. She was sharing pictures from her trip to India and I was sharing stories from my recent adventure in Thailand. We enjoyed each other’s company, wolfed down the buffet and chattered like monkeys for two and a half hours.


After weeks of gloomy weather, Portland was enjoying a cloudless day with temperatures slightly above sixty. The near balmy weather may have partially accounted for what happened next. We drained our drinks and headed for the door. In my defense, this restaurant only serves a lunch buffet so you pay on the way out and are never presented with a bill, and the restaurant was practically empty when we left and stepped into the blinding sunshine. I always offer Jo a ride home but she prefers walking. We said our goodbyes and I climbed into my car and drove out of the parking lot. In my rearview mirror I saw Jo reentering the building and figured she needed to use the restroom before walking home to her condo.


I was halfway home when it dawned on me that I couldn’t remember if the cashier returned my credit card. While reaching for my wallet it occurred to me; Jo and I had walked out of the restaurant without paying for our meals. We’d done a dine and dash. Jo must have remembered as she walked away and had returned to pay our bill.


I felt terrible; we’d sat in the restaurant’s best booth and had received stellar service for two and a half hours, and then stiffed the place. I drove back to the restaurant. The cashier, who hadn’t been standing behind the cash register when we left, smiled when I returned. I explained that I’d forgotten to pay and had returned to do so. He grinned and said my friend had returned and paid for me as well. I felt like such an idiot.


Maybe you can make me feel better. Have you ever done a Dine & Dash—left a restaurant without paying?   




Sorry I can't make you feel better on that. Last week I went to a buffet place where you pay beforehand, which is awkward then when it comes to tipping. I don't want to tip beforehand because what if service is terrible? Unfortunately all the paper money I had was in larger bills so even though I got decent service I ended up tipping 52 cents on a bill of like $10, so that's like 5%. Maybe that will make you feel better in some small way.
By: PT Dilloway on March 14, 2014
No, but we were accused of it with the server calling to us as we were walking to the car! Fortunately we had the receipt.
By: Linda on March 14, 2014
I certainly understand your embarrassment at making a mistake but Stephen, if that's the worst ya got.......polish off your wings and be happy. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on March 14, 2014
no, i haven't. i knew a boss that did - he realized he forgot his wallet, snuck out, but 'supposedly' returned the following day to pay and leave a tip.
By: TexWisGirl on March 14, 2014
Your story didn't really sound like a Dine&Dash. More like Geriatric-Space-Cadet. Who among us hasn't gotten up from the couch, gone into a room, and then had no idea why we went there? But you're a real prince for driving all the way back. :)
By: Lexa Cain on March 14, 2014
Oh man that's awful. The worst I've done is go to an all you can eat Chinese buffet... with some of my large friends. We ate a lot ! You should have seen the look on the managers face when we came in. I was the smallest in the group weighing about 245lbs. whereas most of the guys were in the 275 to 330 lbs. range.
By: Daniel LaFrance on March 14, 2014
I agree with Lexa.
By: Cranky on March 14, 2014
You were an honest person who went back to correct a simple mistake. That says a lot about the kind of person you are. Don't worry about it, it happens, and i've had to go back and pay for something at a store when i realized they didn't charge me for an item or similar stuff.
By: mimi on March 14, 2014
I walked out the supermarket this week and realised I'd left a can of deodorant in the trolley and hadn't paid for it. Oops. I haven't done a dine and dash but I know people who have.
By: LL Cool Joe on March 14, 2014
No, I haven't left without paying for a meal, but once I forgot to tip. I felt bad. At least you went back. Not everyone would bother. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on March 14, 2014
Geriatric/space cadet: how did she nail it without even knowing me, an almost 80 year old writer with a bit of a memory problem. I think Chubby was just temporarily incapacitated by curry overload.
By: JO on March 14, 2014
Yes. But in my defense, I was an unwitting accomplice. Or perhaps a dimwitted accomplice. I'll put it on my blog tonight.
By: Val on March 14, 2014
Well, that's perfectly ok to forget to pay. Your mind is somewhere else and on top of that you are not presented with the bill. You went back though. You did the right thing :) Not in a restaurant. I got a call on my cell phone while I was at the gas station. I forgot to pay the guy :p As I began to move out, he just called out and asked for money. I apologized and explained how I totally forgot to pay him because I was so much engaged in the phone call.
By: Manju on March 14, 2014
Bless you, a man with a conscience. I have never done it but I worked as a waitress while in college and had a party of 7 skip out. I can only hope it was unintentional but maybe not. Anyway, their dinner was on me.
By: Akansas Patti on March 14, 2014
Yep- and it actually was deliberate! We were in Paris- went to the 5th aka Latin Quarter and wnet into a nice Brasserie. Ordered the Plat du Jour and ordered a carafe of wine with some bread. Our wine and bread arrived as the place filled up with locals. Everyone else got their meals and we waited and waited. I even tried to flag down the waitress who would NOT make eye contact. We asked our neighbors ( I speak decent French) and they comisserated with us but had no idea why we were being treated this way. So- we got up and left. We nver did figure out why- altho we did hear a lot of yelling in the kitchen! Good for you to return and good for your buddy for paying for ya! Chers!
By: Kathe W. on March 14, 2014
I haven't done it, but my oldest son used to wait tables. One older lady once dined by herself and my son could tell she suffered from the beginning stages of dementia. She left him a 20-cent tip and started walking out without paying. My son caught her before she went outside, "Ma'm - you do have to pay for your meal."
By: Pixel Peeper on March 14, 2014
i've never done that. blame the wine.
By: Fran on March 14, 2014
I wonder how many people dine and dash and never realize it.If I've ever dined and dashed it was done anonymously to me.
By: red on March 14, 2014
Just a misdemeanor, not a felony. Similar thing happened to me last fall at a pizza place where you eat first and pay later. I forgot to pay; but the counterman hailed me on the way out the door. I assured him I had just forgotten, and wasn't trying to get a free meal, but I'm not sure he believed me.
By: tom sightings on March 14, 2014
I haven't done that but it may just be a matter of time. I seem to be getting more and more absent minded. No harm, no was taken care of.
By: Cheryl P. on March 14, 2014
nope, but it could happen to anyone, especially if you were having a good time. Someone should have stopped you on the way out!
By: Tabor on March 15, 2014
Umm, no I haven't, but I can certainly see how your distraction caused this. And you DID go back, so.... :)
By: Scott Park on March 15, 2014
Oh boy.. I know the feeling well. A few Christmasses ago, I shopped for a number of items at Walmart. A couple of days later, I was sorting through them and realized that I didn't have any of the last 8 things recorded on the bill. Clearly, I had left the last bag behind at the cash. It amounted to about $50. I went into the store, not sure of what to expect. Did the cashier turn it in, in case I was to return? Customer service was very kind. Nobody had turned the items in but figuring the customer behind me could have picked it up instead, they told me to take the bill and go back and find everything that was missing and return to their desk. They bagged it up for me and wished me happy holidays. All was good. Until a few days later when I decided to start wrapping a few gifts. I grabbed the gift wrap from my closet and there was a Walmart bag sitting all by itself - with identical items to the ones that I had just picked up. ACK! Why I had put that one in my closet and none of the others.. I don't know but I felt like I had stolen $50 worth of merchandise from Walmart. I headed back immediately and brought it in to customer service, explaining my stupidity. Again, they were very kind, and thanked me for being honest about it. So yeah, honest mistakes happen. It's more important that we don't leave them unfinished. I guess the next meal between you and your friend is on you. :)
By: Hilary on March 15, 2014
I can assuage your guilt, Stephen. 34 years ago when I was 21, on holiday with my mates in southern Spain, we helped ourselves to an evening buffet at one of the 5-star hotels and then did a runner. Shameful!
By: Bryan Jones on March 15, 2014
Hello Stranger! I had a slightly different version of it. My son's birth father left me stranded and pregnant in a lovely seafood restaurant when I went to the restroom after eating. When I came out he was gone. And I had no wallet!! This was back before cell phones so after waiting for him for 15 mins or so, I realized he had no intention of coming back. I had no choice but to dash out the door. He was in the car laughing hysterically but had no intention of paying. Needless to say, it wasn't long after that that I left him and never looked back! What a loser. I've always felt guilty on that one!
By: Bouncin Barb on March 15, 2014
I did it at a coffee shop once, remembered and walked back in. The waitress thought I had just gone to the mens room instead of heading into the Hotel lobby. You and your friend are good folks for going back to pay.
By: tom Cochrun on March 15, 2014
You are doomed. I'd say you'd better never go back to that restaurant.
By: Catalyst/Bruce on March 15, 2014
No memories of not paying but that's not to say it never happened. I am a stickler for giving very good tips and for paying any thing I owe, but I can see how the stimulating conversation and exchange of travel info would carry you out the door. You have a great friend to cover for you. Next time is on you.
By: CiCi on March 16, 2014
I don't think I've done that, but I underpaid a cab driver in Copenhagen, thinking I was overtipping him. He said something I didn't understand and I just said, "No, it's okay," and got out. Sheesh.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on March 16, 2014
There's a big difference between making an honest mistake and purposely running out on the bill. Not legally, of course, but morally. Legally, the two of you should be spending hard time in the pokey.
By: Katy Anders on March 16, 2014
I have done this years ago at a local take away. I got home and we were all poised to eat when the phone went............Needless to say I returned immediately and settled up amidst my blushes.
By: John on March 18, 2014
I have done this years ago at a local take away. I got home and we were all poised to eat when the phone went............Needless to say I returned immediately and settled up amidst my blushes.
By: John on March 18, 2014
That's nothing to be embarrassed about. You didn't do it intentionally and you both made good. It's simply funny. And if I dined out with you regularly, I'd be sure to bring it up as often as I could.
By: Mitchell is Moving on March 19, 2014

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