Last night, our team met for supper at the front gate of our school. Most of us taught late afternoon classes and the thought of having dinner together seemed like a great motivation to help get us through those slow afternoon periods.
We chose one of our regular restaurants--one of the nicer restaurants that has a door, menus, decor, and air conditioning. We had just ordered our food, when we noticed our Chinese friends' husband sitting by himself only one table over. This friend of ours is currently studying for her phD in another Chinese city and lives away from her family until she finishes her degree. So, this friend's husband made his way over to us and greeted our team-mates' baby. He then made his way back to his table where it appeared he was eating alone.
In America, I would immediately think that we should invite him to join our table for supper, but here in China, I wasn't sure if it was appropriate or now. I mentioned it to my team, and they all seemed to think it was culturally "okay" to invite him to join us. So, our team leader (the one guy with us) agreed to invite him over. The man did not take much convincing and quickly joined us. We combined the food he ordered (frog) with our dishes (not frog). We talked somewhat freely although a little strained because of some translation issues.
When our "separate" bills came, the waitress stapled them together and gave both bills to our Chinese friend. That was quite embarrassing and we tried to get our bill from him, but we were too slow and he was already shoving money at the waitress for both bills. Grr, he played it off by saying, "Next time, you treat me." Yes, the next time we all happen to randomly be at the same restaurant, we will be sure to treat him!