I’ll Just Have Water

I went out to dinner with an assortment of people earlier tonight (there were 5 of us total), and noticed something I have noticed often before:

The waiter comes up to the table and asks the person to his immediate left, “what do you want to drink?” She replies, “Oh, I’ll just have water.” The person to her immediate left says the same. Then the next person orders an iced tea – and the two remaining people (I was last) both get cokes. Neither of them get water.

What’s notable here is how often it goes like this – the first person asked almost always gets water, and then either it goes around the entire table with everyone getting water, or someone will get something else and then everyone left feels free to get whatever they want. Rarely will the first person not get water, and rarely will anyone get water after someone has “dared” to not get water.

What’s the explanation for this? I don’t know exactly, but my guess is it has to do with people not wanting to look profligate or poor, and not wanting to force other people to do so either. Buying a coke in a restaurant costs two or three dollars, which is just enough to not be a completely insignificant amount of money. Thus if the first person gets a water, it’s “OK” for the next person to do so as well, and so on, and once someone gets a coke, everyone else has the choice presented to them and usually chooses to get a coke, since, after all, it tastes better. But if the first person got coke, no one could get water without looking cheap, which is no good.


3 Responses to I’ll Just Have Water

  1. Brian Patrick Cork says:

    It’s possible the first person approached by the waiter makes the safechoice, and goes with water – uncertain what the others might do. They then set the stage for others to “buy time” and consider options.

    I’d be more curious to find out what the second beverage, for each person at the table might be.

    Once the first water sipper learns there is more acceptable options, what did they do next?


  2. I’ve occasionally seen the first person go back and say, “you know what, I’ll actually have a coke,” but that happens very rarely. Usually they’re just stuck having water.

  3. e7th04sh says:

    call me inconsiderate, but if i felt like buying more expensive beverage, i’d just do it despite of being first or last, or what others chose

    if i felt i’d rather save those few zloties, i’d simpyl buy water even if everyone else ordered something better

    tough actually, i would consider what others are buying to some extent – but not because of empathy or savoir vivre, simply because hanging out with people you are supposed to more or less enjoy the same things, fe. you ain’t supposed to go out for a pizza and just sit there without actually eating & paying

    now, i have more of a dilemma when alcohol is an option – for me beer doesn;t taste good, and i generally avoid alcohols, so if others want it, i am either going to “enjoy” being the only completely sober person or breaking my own code of conduct

    also, being a scout in Poland used to mean you are not supposed to drink alcohol at all, and tough they recently changed the interpretation of that law, (claiming they did not change the law itself – bullshit, the meaning is what constitutes the law, not the words…) i till think it’s part of scouts ethos to show backbone by completely avoiding unhealthy substances, even in social situations and small doses

    ( unhealthy != illegal ;p )

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