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Kungfu bill fighting :D


As I stuffed that last remains of sweet and sour chicken into my mouth, I proudly turned to my Chinese friends to declare that I was full.

But no one was paying attention to me. Instead they were all suspiciously eyeing each other while their hands fumbled around in their respective bag or pockets.

One friend across from me slowly inched toward the edge of his seat; his legs tense and his hands on the table ready to spring from his seat at a moment's notice. Everything seemed to go in slow motion as my friend across the way made the first move.

Soon, everyone was jumping from their seat, money in hand, in a wild race to the payment counter. There was grabbing, pushing and shouting as they made their way to the counter but soon the initial crowd thinned to just my friend and another burly young man. They both reached the counter at the same time and thrust their handful of money at the calm waitress.

"I'm going to pay, so put your money away," the burly boy said in a heightened tone.

"No! Stop being polite and let me pay," my friend also forcefully said.

In the end, the burly boy paid as his longer arms enabled him to outreach my friend to the waiting hands of the waitress.

I was a little shocked until I realised that I had just witnessed a prime example of Chinese bill fighting, the epitome of Chinese hospitality. I was just lucky none of my friends had been drinking.

One time, I was enjoying dinner with some colleagues when we were interrupted by an extravaganza of drunken bill fighting. For those who have never seen drunken bill fighting, it is a sight to behold. On this occasion, at a nearby table, a group of friends were enjoying the moment that only countless bottles of Beijing's beloved Erguotou can provide. When it came time for them to pay the bill, three men got up in an effort to pay. One man quickly slumped back into his chair, obviously over-inebriated, but his two friends continued to stumble toward the counter. Finally, after a few steps, they became entangled in each other's arms. A slurred shouting match ensued for a few seconds until one of the men found his balance and threw the other to the ground.

"I will pay!" he shouted as he staggered off.

By no means is bill fighting a negative thing, but at times, like many other customs, it can get out of hand when alcohol gets involved.

I myself have tried my hand at bill fighting a number of times, but most of the time I fare rather badly. In part, this is because I am a teacher and as the custom goes, a student should always pay for their teacher. With my closer Chinese friends we usually take turns paying or go Dutch, but in a more formal setting, I often find myself getting held back if I try to pay the bill, even if I am the one that invited everyone to eat.

So I have had to devise my own tactic when it is appropriate for me to pay to avoid the awkward bill fighting described above.

The key is a well-timed bathroom break, and by well-timed, I mean in the middle of the meal. No one will suspect you are going to pay the bill and you will meet no resistance.

When you excuse yourself, calmly walk over to the waiter and ask where the bathroom is. When they point the way, ask them to follow you and quietly ask them to prepare the bill and instruct them only to give it to you.

After your visit to the bathroom the waiter should have the bill ready and you can discreetly slip him the money and then go back to your seat, confident that not only have you finally paid the bill after 50 failures, but that you can avoid the whole bill fighting scene.

Your guests will be quite impressed when you let out a sly smile as the waiter gives back the change and you tell them the bill is already paid.

Oh, and don't worry about the waiter. They are sure to understand immediately that you are just getting a jump on the race to pay the bill. In war, they would call it a pre-emptive attack. But if you want to successfully pay the bill you are going to have to engage in a little bit of...pre-emptive bill paying.

Shared by Gio Velez,

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