How To Beat A Slovak To The Bill

Paying the Bill

May 4, 2012

Allan Stevo

Tip: In a face-to-face competition, you will always lose.  No matter where you are from, no matter how poor your host is, you will have the bill paid by the Slovak you are visiting with.   A Slovak is like a well-trained cowboy from the Wild West – he’s always the first to the draw.

Before you even realize that the waiter has brought the bill, the Slovak will have already paid for the bill. You’ll still be trying to figure out where your wallet is, and the waiter will already be walking away, money in hand.  Without fail, the Slovak will always beat you to the bill.  If there were an Olympic discipline in who can pull out his wallet most quickly, Slovaks would win the gold, silver, and bronze each time.

Once the bill has arrived at the table, you are too late.  That’s all there is too it.  I know.  It’s not fair, but that’s how it works.  Go out with a Slovak host and you’re gonna have a hard time paying for things.  At least that’s been my experience.  Here’s a technique on how to beat a Slovak to the bill.

  • Step #1. Get up from the table and say that you are going to go to the washroom, which you should do, so as not to lie.
  • Step #2. Stop at the cash register and say “zaplatim vsetko.”  “I am paying for everything.”  I have no idea whether or not this phrase is grammatically correct.  I only know that it works when I say it.
  • Step #3. Pay and leave a good tip – 10% or more.  If you are paying, it’s not nice to stiff the waiter or waitress, who your host may know.  Therefore, it’s good to err on the side of generosity.
  • Step #4. Go back to the table and inform your host that it’s time to leave or if you’re more of the passive aggressive type, just sit there and keep enjoying yourself, letting him ask for the bill only to find out from the waiter that the bill was already paid.  Either way, you will have a slightly angry Slovak on your hands, but you will have successfully beaten him to the bill.

Do you have any experience with these techniques?  Do you have any advice to offer me in paying that bill before a Slovak host?

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling Europe and writing.  You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com.  If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email.  You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

 

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Comments

  • Well, I have same experience in America, so I believe, american’s are pretty good at it themselves and my beloved poppy (father in law) very successfully practiced your technique. Very sneaky!!

  • Barbara Kantor

    May 4th, 2012

    I now understand where our family gets all that. It has been carried down through the generations. And it is more out of wanting to be hospitable. Thanks for your post I enjoy it immensely. Have a great weekend.

  • […] interesting coincidence, above page comes out while Allan Stevo posts his excellent advice feature, “How to Beat a Slovak to the Bill” over at 52 WEEKS IN […]

  • Allen,
    Deja vu! On one of my trips to Slovakia I took out my friend and his family out for dinner and I did the “where’s the restroom” routine and paid the bill. When I said the bill was paid my friend said, “where – in the restroom”? We had a good laugh. Your article is spot on. It was always a quick draw routine when out for drinks or visiting some sites where entrance fees were collected.
    Bill

  • Allan — Thanks for great post! I can verify your observations. Here is recent C+D+K page on similar topic:
    http://marekslovakia.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/meal-tickets/

  • […] above is another reference to 52inSK‘s classic “beat a Slovak to the bill” […]

  • What about waiting for being served, isn’t it another story? How long do you usually wait for the meal, although there is almost no one in the restaurant except you?

  • RUDY HORVATH

    May 12th, 2012

    I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE PARTYING, BUT THE SLOVAKS I PARTIED WITH ASSUMED I WAS PAYING THE BILL. PROBABLY BECAUSE I’M A “WEALTHY AMERICAN.”
    RH

  • RUDY: Yeah, what Allan wrote works with older people but high school or university students (simply younger people) are not so generous. Everybody pays his part of the bill usually nothing more than it is required or maybe 5% more. If someone is totally drunk leaves 10% more. :)

  • I agree with Rudy on this. My experience is people spending 30 minutes dividing the bill until you just pay because you’re tired of waiting. I have NEVER had to beat anybody to a bill.

  • HA! I love reading you guys! Marek – is that where Americans get the phrase ‘meal ticket’?

  • Many Slovaks grow their own food and cook it. To them eating out is a special occasion. That´s where these etiquette comes from. It´s a thing of hospitality.

    The social ladder is important there. It´s polite to invite the elders of the family. It shows respect. But equal to their social position is a guest or someone celebrating. The invited will try to pay out of gratefulness for the invitation and the inviting one because he invited.

    If you manage to pay you´ll very likely get challenged to a rematch where you have to bear the other side paying. 😀

    It´s different when you just hang out with friends. There´s no “occasion”. When there´s no occasion, most Slovak students/people in general just hanging out don´t have enough money to just get the whole bill or it´s financially challenging for them.

    But those that have more money tend to invite those that don´t. An only child from a richer family his friends of 3 siblings (while they will try to invite him in return), parents their kids starting a family, adults their elderly parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, company owners employees.

  • Good observation Allan but please don’t bring your American tipping habits to Europe.

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