“I’ll just put it on my card,” I say. In my mind, it’s not worth deliberating over the check or compensating for the girl that ordered too many appetizers and expects everyone to pay despite the fact that no one touched them. Money breaks bonds and affects friendships, so having the peace of mind to not spend the tail-end of my dinner drunkenly doing math to see who owes what is worth taking the temporary hit to my credit card statement.
Temporary, that is, until it’s time to request payment from everyone the next day and a wave of guilt strangely acts as a blanket over the logical side of my brain. It’s at that moment when the Fear of Requesting Money (or “FORM”) kicks in and I struggle to muster up the balls to dole out Venmo receipts.
The fear is illogical. The entire point of putting something on my card was to make things easier, not more difficult or arduous. But when the final tally comes through and I divide it by the attendees on my iPhone’s calculator, I sit there with a hesitation in my fingertips to actually request what is owed to me.
“What if they get mad at me for remembering they owe me money?” I wonder to myself. “I don’t want to make things weird over a measly $25.” And there I sit, considering the worth of friendship versus the worth of myself. Deep down, I know no one cares. After all, if you can’t pony up for a group dinner or shared tab, you probably shouldn’t be going out in the first place.
But it still lingers. The anxiety courses through my veins wondering about the issues people could take with me acting as the real life Monopoly er. Is Tripp going to get mad that he paid the same amount even though his girlfriend wasn’t drinking and just had a salad? Finn will obviously be happy to pay considering he got the ribeye, but Sarah what if Sarah takes issue with it because she just had a chicken caesar? Those aren’t negotiations or deliberations I really feel like having while sitting in bed on a Saturday morning.
It may all stem from the current state of my Venmo account. There’s three requests sitting in my account that have gone unfulfilled. Small amounts, yes. When you had them up, that’s a round of golf or a tank of gas. The amounts are so small that it seems reasonable one would pay them, but then I’m left sitting here racking my brain wondering why these people wouldn’t feel the need to settle up after all this time. I know there’s a read “1” bubble on their home screen above the Venmo icon. I know they see my request every time they partake in other transactions. It truly makes no fucking sense.
Is it worth sending that awkward text months later asking why they’re avoiding it? Do I just delete them on my end, take the hit, and pretend this never happened? The cloud hovering over all of our heads isn’t worth it, is it? Who wants to let $17.50 get between a friendship?
But there I sit. Hesitant. Worried. Nervous that something will go awry. I hate that everyone was too drunk and distracted by conversation the night before to listen to my request – “Everyone Venmo me $25 and I’ll put it on my card.” The usual suspects paid up right away. True diamonds in the rough. Everyone else, though? They’re secretly hoping I forget to request the money and they got a free dinner at a three-star restaurant.
I can afford to cover everyone. Unfortunately, that’s just a completely unnecessary expense at this juncture. We all make the same amount of money. We all live beyond our means in the first place. There’s no real reason I should feel any obligation to bankroll my buddies and their girlfriends.
“Suck it up,” I tell myself. “Send out the receipts and let the money trickle back in.” Surely, I know I’ll have to reach out to someone who forgets to fulfill it immediately or whose “Venmo isn’t working right now, man, sorry.” We all know that’s a lie, but things are already awkward enough so there’s no point in making matters worse.
Perhaps next time I’ll just suggest we play credit card roulette and we’ll completely eliminate this situation completely. Or fuck it, we’ll make Tripp put it on his card. That asshole never pays. .
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