A friend runs a discussion group at a restaurant once a month. He’s a friendly, intelligent, and interesting guy. He chooses the place and calls everyone to let them know where. He always has a coupon, which is a plus. He tends to hand out magazines and clippings halfway through the evening. When we get the bill, everyone puts in what they owe with an honor system, and our leader collects the money. If the server is good, my SO and I tend to over-tip a bit.
Last time, I noticed him counting, recounting, and going through the bills as usual, but this time I saw him abstract a $20 bill and a $1 bill from the total, and start to put it in his pocket. I called him on it, and he said, “but I’m broke!” Eventually, he said “I’ll put the $20 back.” He’s a consultant of sorts, and I know he doesn’t earn a lucrative living; on the other hand, if you can’t afford a restaurant, maybe you shouldn’t go to one. Seems to me taking what we all intended for the waiter isn’t right.
The money is not the issue; I’d be happy to loan him a bit if he was desperate, even knowing I might not get it back. It’s this surreptitious . . . well, thievery that bothers me.
This is the second time I’ve seen him do this. We’re considering not going anymore, which is disappointing – on the other hand he may not invite us again.
What would you do?