Thanks for the Drink! (Now, How Long Do I Have to Sit Here?)

Categories: Bar Beat, Booze

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Is there a time (gifted) drink equivalency?
Girl walks into a hotel bar. Traveling alone and therefore (she thinks) drinking alone. She plunks herself down and orders a Sidecar from the bartender, who looks uncannily like Kevin Spacey. From across the room, a male stranger, not completely unattractive and certainly not scary-looking, approaches her with a smile. "May I get that for you?" She momentarily debates simply replying, "I'm married," as that response seems terse, unfriendly and, well, unnecessary. Married women are certainly allowed to drink with men who are not their husbands (#thisisnottheVictorianera).

So she smiles back, says, "Sure, thank you," all the while touching her face with her left hand in an attempt to reveal (not so subtly) a wedding band and engagement ring. Just so there are no wrong impressions. Whether or not this man 1) sees the rings and recognizes she is married and cares not or 2) is completely obtuse and/or unfamiliar with Western material representations of marital status is unclear

He sits down, orders a beer and proceeds to make friendly, not necessarily flirtatious, conversation. Although the girl enjoys the company of her new drinking friend (?), she cannot help wondering, "How long do I have to sit here and talk to him?"

Such was the situation I found myself in recently at an out-of-town conference. And so I ask you, does accepting the gift of a drink from a stranger obligate you (morally, ethically, religiously, etc.) to tolerate their presence for a certain amount of time?

Does the guy or gal who sends you a shot from across a crowded bar deserve more than just a smile and a "thank you" gesture from afar? (Unless, of course, that person is Christian Bale, in which case you pound the shot and rush over into his arms.)

What about the gregarious patron who buys an entire round for you and your friends (not that you asked) and then requests to join you at your corner table? If you didn't turn away the server when he approached you with the gifted beverages, can you turn away the purchaser? And if you do consent but later tire of his/her presence, can you part ways? And after how long?

Well, yes, of course, you can do anything you like. And you should, especially if you start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. But barring those feelings, and provided you are not particularly attracted (romantically or platonically) to your new companion, how and when do you exit graciously?

Readers, your thoughts and experiences?


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14 comments
JoanieT
JoanieT

Whenever a guy offered to buy me a drink I'd sit and talk with him for as long as it took me to finish it. I'd be polite, thank him for the drink, and tell him my friends were waiting for me.

SirRon
SirRon

It's way worse when someone starts an unsolicited conversation with me and he *hasn't* bought me a drink. Look dude, if you want my attention you are gonna have to pick up this tab. Otherwise, I'm going back to the Voice Nation feed on my phone.

evan7257
evan7257

While there is absolutely no obligation for anyone to do anything regarding purchased drinks, perhaps a reasonable standard would be until the drink is consumed. 

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

Buying someone a drink creates absolutely no moral obligation on their part, aside from perhaps a simple thank you.

Matthew
Matthew

why would you allow someone to buy you a drink and then not socialize with them? you think they just felt like giving you something out of the goodness of their heart? at the very least they are purchasing the opportunity to interact with you. you are under no obligation to accept the offer. is this really a dilemma people have?

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@Matthew If you want to set conditions on the drink you're purchasing for someone, you should state those conditions up-front. "If I buy you this drink, I'm expecting you to stay and talk to me for at least 30 minutes, okay?" If you think that sounds dick-ish, that's because it *is* dickish to think that buying someone a drink creates any moral obligation on their part to socialize.

jsoleary
jsoleary

@Matthew The dilemma on which I am focusing is if there is an approximate amount of time you should spend with the person. I am not contending you owe them NO socialization (though others might).

Matthew
Matthew

i don't think the author here feels this way, but i think it's naive to think that a person is buying you a drink just because they have too much money in their pocket or they thought you looked thirsty. i also think it's rude to accept a drink from someone and then pretend that you didn't know that, or simply don't care. the whole point of buying someone a drink is at minimum a gesture of token friendship and to pretend that's not the case doesn't make you less of a "dick" when you accept the drink and then decline to converse with them.

is there a legal basis for this? no. but i'd argue it's pretty much common decency. like i said originally, you're under no obligation to accept a drink from someone. if you can't be bothered to give them the time of day in return, then don't accept the drink.

Matthew
Matthew

every person to person interaction is different, but i thought the earlier suggestion of until the drink is gone is fair.

Matthew
Matthew

my point is i would not feel comfortable accepting a drink from someone and not at least having a conversatoin with them. i think it's fairly callous to behave otherwise. there's a social obligation that you are willfully ignoring if you don't at least acknowledge their attempt at social interaction with same.

Matthew
Matthew

" A person's intentions in buying you an unsolicited drink does not create an obligation on your part to spend time with them."

no, their intentions don't, but you accepting the drink does. it's just about not being a jerk.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@Matthew What's the exchange rate for drinks vs. conversation time, anyway?

H_e_x
H_e_x

@Kylejack @Matthew Oh sweet baby Jesus, not the Nice Guy (TM)! People think being a decent or nice person entitles them to personal time and, let's be honest, sex. The whole point of buying someone a drink in these situations is because of the slim chance they might get laid. This isn't about friendship, this is about lust, as if a well drink entitles someone to sex, let alone a conversation.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@Matthew It reminds me of the Nice Guy (TM) syndrome, wherein a guy does unsolicited favors for a woman and then doesn't understand why she keeps putting him in the Friend Zone (TM). People are not an ATM where you put in a certain amount of unsolicited advice, favors, or drinks and then get to expect your payout. A person's intentions in buying you an unsolicited drink does not create an obligation on your part to spend time with them. Of course they're trying to set up a quid pro quo, but it doesn't mean you have to play ball with them.

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