I still remember one of the corniest lines ever uttered on a stage. It came from some play about the perils of Miss Pureheart.

She stands facing the audience, sighs deeply and says despondently, “Oh dear I am in such a quandary.” To which her hero responds, “Why no Miss Pearl, You’re right here on the front porch.”

Now, that is bad. Funny … but still bad.

Eating out can leave you in a quandary when it comes to paying the tab. Watch out for the following scams:

• The wrong bill is presented. It kind of looks like yours but then again you don’t remember having the lobster or several of the extra items on it. Some will look at the total and pay without examining it.

• Just how many glasses of wine did you order? If you are with several people, an extra drink or two can be added without anyone noticing (I think Bill had those.) Some have paid their bar tab only to find that it also was included on their meal tab.

• Where did you learn to add? Hand totaled bills need to be checked carefully for errors. It is easy to miscalculate when you are busy and have several large tables to take care of. It took three times adding it with the server there doing it with me to show him where he made his mistake — obviously in his favor.

• You can’t read what the bill says you ordered? A bunch of scribbling on a piece of paper doesn’t cut it. If in doubt, have them return the menu and compare the item with the listed price.

• Is the gratuity/tip included in the bill? This is a biggie. Some places do it and it is simply a line item at the end of the bill — similar to the tax line — and if you aren’t careful, you will double the server’s tip without realizing it. Interestingly, few servers will correct your mistake.

Some places will automatically add the tip to large parties. Make sure to check to see if the service is included regardless of the size of your party.

• If you don’t pay at a register, make sure you pay your server directly or that he/she knows the payment is on the table. In one case, a person walked up to a table, picked up the cash payment and left. The customers didn’t pay attention as to who was picking up the money and assumed he was part of the waitstaff — which he wasn’t.

• Ever use a gift card to pay for a meal? Check your receipt to make sure that the correct amount was taken off and that there is a balance on the card. Someone could wipe out the entire amount on the card, pocket the difference between that and the bill and, until you went to use it at a later time, and you would never know what had happened.

Still in a quandary? Why no Miss Pearl, you’re right here reading this. So bad — and not at all funny.

Remember: Think, prepare and execute crime prevention designs. Don’t be a victim.

Walt Candelari is a police officer with Dickinson Police Department. He is writing a series of columns on creating an environment of safety from burglars.

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