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Does anyone else wait around at their table until their waiter comes back to pick up their cash?

I always pay cash when I eat out alone, and I always make sure I have enough of the right denominations of bills so that I don't have to make the waiter go and get me change. I have the right denominations to cover the bill plus the tip.

So that means theoretically I could just put the money in the check folder and get up and leave the restaurant immediately after paying.

But the last several times I've hung around at my table until the waiter came back and asked me if I wanted change and I said no, that's fine, thanks keep the change. And then I left. Obviously it's not necessary for me to wait like this.

I do this because I just hate the thought of leaving cash unattended in the check holder. It's like leaving money right out in public or something. The last time I did it I kept wondering if before my waiter got a chance to collect it the money it in whole or in part "disappeared". Or perhaps another employee picked up the folder and helped themselves to some of the tip.

Does anyone else in this forum do this? Or is this simply another one of my neuroses (lol).

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  1. I don't wait around but I'd never leave it on the table and then walk out. I make sure to hand it to the server (and, absent exact change, I tell the server how much I'd like back).

    There was a recent post on Chowhound about a popular, touristy restaurant in Boston. The customers left their payment on the table (outside on the patio where there was lotsa drinking and other chaos going on) and they were followed out into the parking lot by their server -- who claimed they didn't pay! That got me thinking about this all over. Either a neighboring table swiped their payment, or worse, the server had a racket going that he/she had all rehearsed for the occasions when people drop-and-leave.

    Sadly, in this day and age when it comes to money I think we should keep an eye on it before you hand it off to your server.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shaogo

      more likely someone on the street had an eye out for a larger patio table, paying in cash. walk by, pretending to be a busboy or another guest and swipe the check folder, you're gone before anyone even notices. it's *very* common and it's almost impossible to catch the thieves. i've left cash on a table in a bill folder *inside* a restaurant-- but never on an outdoor patio table on the street, ever, no matter how nice the area seems. i always hand the check folder directly to the server or host on the way out.

    2. I'm always a little nervous about just leaving cash, especially if it's a bustling sort of place, where people are moving around a lot and the tables are close together. I don't sit and wait until the waiter gets back, but I do get up and put my coat on, gather my purse, etc, somewhat slowly. Generally, such obvious signs of departure get the waiter to my table pretty quickly.

      1. I always just put the cash in and leave without waiting. It's never occurred to me that I should stick around in case somebody takes it. I would think that the waiters would be attentive enough to notice me getting up and walking out, or to notice somebody else walking over to the table and grabbing the cash. But maybe I should be more careful. I'll keep an eye on this thread to see what others do.

        1. I just leave the cash and walk out. It's never been an issue. Usually the server sees you getting up and leaving and comes over to the table right afterwards anyway, because they need to turn it.

          1. I always either wait for them to return to the table or, if I can see that they're busy, find them and hand it to them. I'd never leave cash unattended, for a variety of reasons.

            1. when we pay in cash, we wait.

              1. Depends on the restaurant. In a white tablecloth establishment, sure, I'd leave it (although it's unlikely I'd be paying cash). In a more hectic restaurant, probably not. And definitely not if I were sitting at an outside table.

                  1. re: anonymouse1935

                    I live in New York as well and I just leave the money on the table. Haven't had a problem yet.

                  2. It depends on the restaurant for me and my intuition.

                    1. I always wait to hand the waiter the check if there is just cash because it is too easy for anyone to make a mistake when it comes to loose cash. My mom - bad eyesuit - once confused a small bill with a large bill and almost stiffed the waiter but since we had waited to hand it to him, he had enough time to look it over before we left (coat grabbing/last sip of water etc). I also like to say a final thank you to the waiter so I normally will wait regardless of it is cash or credit (unless I'm in a big rush)

                      1. I, on the other hand, almost feel rude just leaving money on the table and walking out. The check wasn't presented to me like that, in fact, if any of the service at the meal was just drop and leave, I would be really upset. So I either assemble the money in leave-taking, which includes things like standing up, gathering purses and the server comes over. Or if I am in a rush I pay on the way out to the cashier. Either way, I know the money is in safe keeping.
                        The only place I have left the money on the table is the local diner, filled with locals who would probably tackle anyone who tried to steal from a table.
                        Paying has never been an issue for me in all my years, in or out of the kitchen. Tho while I was serving, I did get a few times where the guy left the tip and the woman scooped it up when he walked away. But hey, why begrudge her, clearly she was living under nasty situations.