As a nondrinker, I resent paying the same as others

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time worker in my 50s. I don’t drink alcohol, so it irks me that when I join colleagues or friends when they go out drinking, I’m expected to pay the same amount as everyone else.

I try to make up for what I have to pay for not drinking by eating as much as I can, but it’s never enough. And recently, a heavy drinker has been transferred to my workplace, so I’m dejected to think I’ll have to pay even more from now on.

Granted, the amount I have to pay is limited if we go to a place where it is all-you-can-drink. But the venues are always chosen by the heavy drinkers and I don’t have a say in the matter.

I try to get out of going once in a while, but each time there’s a party, the organizer sets a date so that everyone can plausibly make it. I like having a good time over dinner with colleagues or friends, so I actually do want to join them, but I can’t fully enjoy myself because this matter is on my mind.

If someone would realize this and suggest something like, “Those who don’t drink can pay less,” it would at least make me feel more comfortable about paying a share equal to that of the drinkers. But that never happens.

It’s embarrassing that I’m someone who gets irritated by something like this, but do I really have to keep enduring this? Is there any practical way to avoid paying the same?

A, Tokyo

Dear Ms. A:

You don’t speak up, even though you clearly think this is strange and unfair. You also find it hard to ask the others to be more attentive and considerate of the nondrinkers. You could ask another nondrinker to speak on your behalf, but you probably are hesitant to do that because you’re worried it might make you look fussy or rude.

If you still want to include yourself in the outings, it seems the only thing to do is to loudly declare with a smile, “I didn’t drink, you know,” while the bill is being calculated, which is when everybody has a full stomach and feels happy, or is tipsy and becomes generous.

There’s an interesting item that might help — dice bearing phrases on the sides in English such as “Go Dutch,” “I Pay” and “You Pay.” It is aimed at couples to make deciding who will pay more fun.

If you don’t have the courage to remind them that you don’t drink, I suggest you follow the example of the dice and say, “So should we all go Dutch today? Or maybe someone who had something good happen today can pay for the others’ drinks. Or people who drank a lot can pay for the rest of us.” I think it’s a casual way to inform them that there are various ways to foot the bill.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from March 28, 2017, issue)Speech

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