Am I Wrong for Leaving a Family Dinner at an Upscale Restaurant?

At an upscale steakhouse meant to be the backdrop for a joyous family reunion, an individual found themselves blindsided by a gathering nearly three times its usual size. As the celebratory toasts echoed, the mood shifted drastically when the unsuspecting host discovered they were expected to foot what would end up being a staggering bill.

In January 2024, an anonymous poster shared their story in the “AITA” subreddit. The Original Poster (OP), a successful individual compared to their family, frequently traveled for work. During their visits, they made an effort to connect with everyone, often treating their family to dinners.

Despite the income gap, OP usually covered the expenses, occasionally indulging in upscale dining experiences but generally opting for more affordable options. They expressed no qualms about their generosity, citing involvement in handling family vacations and purchasing a car for their mother as examples of their willingness to assist.

Returning to town for the holidays with limited time, OP, upon their mother’s insistence, prepared for a family gathering. Upon arrival, OP discovered a text from their mom, sent a few hours earlier, directing them to a high-end steakhouse—a departure from their usual initiation of such costly meals, causing a hint of unease.

According to their niece, who wasn’t present but heard third-hand, the family was left in shock.

At the restaurant, OP was met with a surprising sight. “I show up at the restaurant to find a huge party. My mom, stepdad, grandparents, cousins, neighbors, etc. Usually, our family dinners are 6 people roughly. I don’t have much family and very few I’m close to. This was almost 20 people,” recalled OP.

During the evening, an unexpected turn of events transpired when OP’s grandmother’s neighbor, someone they had only ever waved to, raised a toast. The toast highlighted OP’s generosity in covering the expenses, setting the stage for an unforeseen chain of events.

Glancing at their beet-red mother as appetizers were served, OP, expecting a more modest gathering, found themselves in disbelief at the extravagant affair unfolding. With everyone indulging in drinks, numerous appetizers, and high-priced steaks ranging from $80 to $250 per person, a rapid mental calculation hinted at an exorbitant $4k dinner at least.

In response, OP decisively announced, “I’m not paying for dinner,” leaving a mere $100 on the table before making a hasty exit. As their phone incessantly buzzed with calls, OP chose to power it off, retire for the night, and depart the next day without uttering goodbyes.

Despite recognizing their less-than-ideal handling of the situation, OP couldn’t shake the lingering sense of being taken advantage of. Adding to the unfolding drama, they informed their mother of the cessation of her monthly allowance. “I know I’m nta with the dinner but more concerned about my reaction [sic],” expressed OP.

In the aftermath, OP, confronted with their mother’s persistent pleas, reluctantly made the call. Hoping for mutual apologies and reconciliation, OP expressed regret for storming out, but instead of an olive branch, they were met with accusations of selfishness, greed, disrespect, and meanness.

Puzzled, OP questioned the fairness of such labels, highlighting the extensive support they had provided over the years—two cars, a bathroom remodel, a roof replacement, new appliances, and funding for numerous family vacations, among other gestures.

Frustrated and angered by the lack of acknowledgment, OP took drastic measures. In a moment of scorched-earth resolve, they declared an end to any assistance for those who failed to appreciate it.

Soon afterward, OP initiated a cascade of cancellations: six AT&T lines, internet services, streaming accounts with changed passwords or outright cancellations, removal from AAA coverage for the cars, termination of car insurance coverage for their mom, and the cancellation of the credit card they had provided. With this decisive move, OP signaled an end to the era of free rides, leaving their family in the wake of the repercussions of ingratitude.

In the subsequent updates, OP found that the aftermath of their bold actions continued to reverberate through family dynamics. According to their niece, who wasn’t present but heard third-hand, the family was left in shock. The family had tried to cancel the rest of the dinner, but with appetizers and drinks already served, so they reluctantly split a $700 bill.

As OP distanced themselves, their mother’s escalating voicemails, each more hostile than the last, prompted a decision to avoid calls and delete messages. Asserting the need for a cooling-off period, OP informed their mother that a conversation could only happen next month.

The repercussions extended beyond immediate family, as OP discovered they were uninvited from a cousin’s wedding due to a desire to avoid “drama,” yet the expectation for a gift remained. The discussion about the upcoming family vacation, a once lively topic, now lay dormant.

In a meeting with their niece, OP learned that there was little remorse or understanding among the family. Instead, a unanimous sentiment seemed to prevail, branding them as a greedy, mean monster—a consensus that left OP isolated in the aftermath of their bold stand.

OP’s narrative has racked up immense support from fellow Redditors, who have unanimously deemed them “NTA.” One user wrote, “Everyone else at that table “knew” you were going to be paying for dinner but you. How odd. The position your mom and family put you in was quite disrespectful. And I do not know how you could have reacted better.”

“Your mom was way out of line for all of this. Starting with assuming you’re going to pay, choosing that expensive place, and inviting so many people. She owes you a major apology,” opined a second user.

“Your family invited your neighbors!? Do you even know these people? Wait, it doesn’t even matter. And everybody had drinks and appetizers and steak…Paying for your part and leaving was entirely appropriate. They took advantage of the golden goose and the golden goose left and cut mama off,” divulged yet another commenter.

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