Don’t Get Caught With Alligator Arms!

Do you have a cheap friend with alligator arms? Or perhaps someone called you out for having alligator arms and you're not quite sure what they meant? Let's go over what it means to have alligator arms. And then I will share an email exchange I had with a reader on this very topic.

Definition Of Alligator Arms

Alligator arms: When someone “pretends” to reach for the check with friends, but always gets to it a little too late. Or when the bill sits in the middle of the table and nobody reaches for it.

In these situations, someone may say, “Okay I'll get it. All of you guys have alligator arms.”

Why is the expression specifically about alligator arms? Just look at this guys below. He's just lazying his way around and his arms are so short! He might lift his arm up, but it's not going to be able to reach very far. Don't count on a friend with alligator arms to grab the check.

Friends with alligator arms are cheap
Those lazy little alligator arms!

Grab Bag Friday Email Exchange: Alligator Arms

Tim, a reader sends in an e-mail asking, “Sam, I have a friend who is notoriously cheap. Whenever we go out to eat with a group he disappears to the bathroom when the bill comes.

And whenever we go out drinking, everybody buys a round of drinks except for him. What should I do? The last bill came out to $100 each from $70 because he and his wife disappeared!

And why is it that every time we go out with clients together he never volunteers to put his corporate card out? He drives an expensive car, and always has expensive threads so why am I always stuck with the bill? It's so frustrating!”

When Your Friend Has Alligator Arms

My Response: Well Tim, I have to say that your friend is a 100% cheapskate. You may want to stop inviting him out or doing anymore joint client events together.

He is taking advantage of your kindness, and your willingness to let things slide. As far as I'm concerned, you can equate his lack of contribution to stealing. A friend with alligator arms isn't a true friend because he's not contributing his fair share.

The next time he goes to the bathroom right before the check comes, just simply take your time and wait until he gets back to pay his fair share. Better yet, follow him to the bathroom, shake one out, and return together. He can't escape!

Related: Curing The Cheap Disease For A Better Life

How To Handle Paying For Client Events

The client event situation is tricky. You don't want to look like a cheapskate yourself by asking to split the bill in front of the client. Nor do you want to have an awkward moment when the bill comes. If your friend is nowhere to be seen, you don't want the bill to just sit there in front of your client.

However, I'm sure you and many others have had their expense accounts squeezed with closer monitoring in this economy. Don't let your friend's alligator arms harm you and your business.

Again, wait for him to return. And if he's there already, firmly ask him to put his card down to split the bill if he's not making any motion. He cannot refuse in front of the client.

An alternative is to simply pay to avoid awkwardness, and tell him to pay you half the bill in cash. Don't let him say he'll get you next time because that is a false promise. Tell him you need his portion to pay off your expenses.

Related: Best Private Business Credit Cards For Rewards Points

Avoid “Friends” Who Are Freeloaders

Freeloaders are an undesirable bunch who nickel and dime people to death. The sure solution for preventing an unpleasant experience is to weed these people out of your social life, one by one.

You don't want to hang out with these “friends” because they don't care enough about you to not take advantage of you. If they were truly a friend, they'd be clamoring over the bill and refusing to let you pay. Or at least offering to pay their fair share.

Once you equate a freeloading friend's cheapness to stealing, you won't let them short change you ever again.

Further Reading

Here are some other articles you may find entertaining and helpful.

Readers, what are your experiences with cheap friends and how do you address the issue?

Have a great weekend everyone!



3 thoughts on “Don’t Get Caught With Alligator Arms!”

  1. I’d heard the expression alligator arms once in passing and remember wondering what it meant. And now I know! I used to have a friend who did that exact thing and I’m glad we didn’t stay friends for very long.

  2. RB @ RichBy30RetireBy40

    Yeah, in a system of splitting the bill equally, it behooves all to order the most expensive thing on the menu and drink heavily! Tough for some women who may have smaller appetites then guys who tend to drink and eat much more.

    It's probably best to expect to pay an equal divide of the bill if you're going out with a bunch of people. Getting into exactly what was ordered and spent gets too cumbersome if there are more than 4 people. 4 people or less, and there should be no problem to split according to what was consumed.



  3. I can totally relate to this. I avoid hanging out with people who order the most expensive thing on the menu and 3 drinks vs my average to cheap dish and water and expect to split the bill evenly. When I go out with my friends we each pay for what we ordered and everyone goes home happy. charile

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