Receive the Gift II: Picking Up the Check

While wife and I were visiting my uncle and his family for a few days, everyone went out to a nice restaurant. We were feeling pretty generous — and we wanted to thank my uncle for his hospitality — so I sneakily left the table to pick up the check.


At the end of the meal, my uncle asked for the check. She said, “He already paid it,” as she pointed at me.

When I saw the look on his face, I immediately realized paying the check was a mistake.

Generosity can be an incredibly powerful gesture when used properly. When used improperly, though, it creates tremendously frustrating, embarrassing, and even sad situations.

Even though I meant well and wanted to do something nice, I had essentially disrespected the man of the house.

What I meant to be a gift really just robbed my uncle of the joy of giving his extended family a nice dinner.

Before we said our goodbyes and continued our trip, he pulled me aside and handed me the appropriate amount of money to reimburse me for the check at dinner. Without a moment’s hesitation I took the money and graciously thanked him for his hospitality. We hugged and instantly felt better about the whole thing.

Lesson Learned:
Generosity applied at the wrong time and place is counter-productive.

Receive the Gift I: Carrot Cake
Receive the Gift III: The Corsage

Have you ever intercepted the giver like I did? Or, have you had someone steal your joy of giving? Share what you learned.

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  • Bob Nelson

    Well said Andrew. I have been there too. Sometimes it takes discernment to know how to handle a situation instead of blindly charging in.

  • Mike

    Plates look empty…..? How was the food

    • It was great Italian food. That’s all I remember. The picture, though, is from a local restaurant you would enjoy.

  • Johnny V

    To be honest, I usually just enjoy receiving! (Shame on me, but I love a free lunch!) However… recently I experienced the opposite. Without getting too much into it, I ended up over giving. I have a friend in grad school that I know doesn’t have a lot of money because they don’t work. So I would pick up a meal we had here and there. Nothing too fancy. Turns out this made the person feel uncomfortable. It took several months for this to come to light.

    • Hmmm. It’s weird to realize how others perceive our “generosity.” Thanks for sharing, Johnny!