Am I wrong to leave a family dinner at an upscale restaurant?

At a fancy steakhouse that was supposed to be the scene of a happy family get-together, one person was taken aback by a group that was almost three times larger than normal. The mood was upbeat as the toasts rang out, but it quickly soured when the unaware host learned they would be responsible for what turned out to be an enormous bill.

An anonymous member in the “AITA” forum published their tale in January 2024. The Original Poster (OP), a prosperous person in comparison to their family, traveled a lot for employment. They tried to get to know everyone on their trips, frequently taking their family out to supper.

Even with the difference in income, OP often paid for the out-of-pocket expenditures, occasionally treating herself to fine meals but more often choosing less expensive choices. They were unapologetic about their generosity, noting their assistance with organizing family holidays and buying their mother a car as evidence of their readiness to help.

With little time, OP returned to town for the holidays and, at their mother’s prodding, got ready for a family get-together. When they got there, OP saw a text message from their mother from a few hours prior, pointing them toward a fancy steakhouse. This wasn’t how they usually started expensive dinners, so it made them feel a little uncomfortable.

Their niece, who was not present but heard from others, claimed that the family was in disbelief.

When OP arrived to the restaurant, he saw something unexpected. “There’s a big party in the restaurant as I go in. My stepdad, mom, cousins, grandparents, and neighbors, among others. Our family dinners typically have six or so individuals. My family is small, and the ones I do have are not very close. OP recalled, “This was almost 20 people.”

The evening took an unexpected turn when OP’s grandmother’s neighbor, to whom they had previously merely waved, proposed a toast. The toast signaled the start of an unexpected series of events by highlighting OP’s generosity in footing the bill.

Peering at their beet-red mother during the first course, OP was taken aback by the lavish celebration taking place, having anticipated a more low-key get-together. Considering that everyone was chowing down on cocktails, a ton of appetizers, and expensive steaks that cost between $80 and $250 per, a quick mental computation suggested that the meal was going to cost at least $4k.

OP sharply replied, “I’m not paying for dinner,” leaving only $100 on the table before hurriedly departing. With their phone constantly beeping, OP decided to switch it off, go to bed, and leave the next day without saying goodbye.

Even after realizing that their handling of the matter was subpar, OP was still plagued with the feeling that they had been taken advantage of. They added to the drama by telling their mother that her stipend would no longer be paid each month. “I know I’m not into the dinner, but I’m more worried about how I’m going to react,” OP said.

After that, OP grudgingly picked up the phone in response to their mother’s pleading. When OP expressed sorrow for storming out, they expected an olive branch in the form of an apology and reconciliation, but instead, they were confronted with allegations of meanness, greed, selfishness, and disrespect.

Perplexed, OP questioned the justice of such designations, emphasizing the vast assistance they had given over the years—two automobiles, a renovated bathroom, a new roof, new appliances, and money for several family holidays, to name a few gestures.

OP reacted violently because they were upset and frustrated by the lack of acknowledgment. In a flash of ironclad determination, they vowed to stop helping anyone who didn’t deserve it.

Not long after, OP started a chain reaction of cancellations that included six AT&T lines, internet services, streaming accounts that were either completely canceled or had their passwords changed, removal from AAA coverage for the cars, their mother’s auto insurance coverage being terminated, and the cancellation of the credit card they had given. OP’s bold decision to halt the free-ride era left their family facing the consequences of their lack of gratitude.

In the updates that followed, OP discovered that the fallout from their audacious deeds was still having an impact on family dynamics. Their niece, who was not present but heard from others, claimed that the family was in disbelief. Reluctantly, the family agreed to divide the $700 cost as they had attempted to cancel the remaining portion of the meal, which included appetizers and beverages.

The decision to avoid calls and delete messages was brought on by the OP’s mother’s increasingly hostile voicemails, which got worse as they distanced themselves from one another. Declaring that a cooling-off time was necessary, OP told their mother that a chat could only take place the following month.

The effects went beyond the immediate family when the OP found out they were not invited to a cousin’s wedding because of a want to stay away from “drama,” yet the gift expectation persisted. The conversation, which had previously been animated about the impending family trip, had become quiet.

OP found out at a meeting with their niece that there wasn’t much forgiveness or regret in the family. Instead, a widely held belief that painted them as a vicious, avaricious monster appeared to take hold; as a result of their audacious stance, OP found itself isolated.

Redditors have been overwhelmingly supportive of OP’s story and have universally labeled them as “NTA.” “Everyone else at the table “knew” you were going to pay for supper, but you,” a user said. How peculiar. It was disrespectful to your mother and family to put you in that situation. And I’m not sure how you could have responded more skillfully.

“Your mother was completely inappropriate in all of this. Beginning with the presumption that you will pay, selecting that pricey location, and extending an invitation to so many people. She should apologize to you, said another user.

“Your neighbors were welcomed by your family? Are these even people you know? Hey, it’s not even relevant. And everyone enjoyed steak, snacks, and beverages. Making your payment and walking away was perfectly acceptable. Another commenter said, “They took advantage of the golden goose, and the golden goose left and cut Mama off.”

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