We created BillMonk in part because we needed something like it for our own social lives.
I was reminded of this last night when I was out to dinner with 11 friends. Out of morbid curiosity, I held my tongue at first so I could observe the traditional Ritual of Splitting the Check. One person had hardly eaten anything, and so of course didn’t want to pay a full 1/11th of the bill; three people didn’t have any cash, only credit cards; everyone else had twenties; nobody could agree on what the tip should be, or even how much each person owed – in short, it was a mess. At one point, we tried to foist the math on the waitress. We handed her 5 credit cards with the instructions “put one share on this card, two shares on this card and that card, and…”. She flatly refused.
The situation was getting dire, and the clock was fast approaching the time of the show we were all supposed to be seeing. I couldn’t bear it any longer, so I heroically (at least in the telling) grabbed the bill, saying, “I’ll just BillMonk it.” As we walked to the show, I recorded it into my cell phone so I wouldn’t forget.
It was the perfect poster child for BillMonk – well, almost. Some friends had later worked out various payment schemes amongst themselves, but had no way to communicate it with the rest of the group. Anyone could of course change the details of the bill themselves, but there was no way to annotate the bill with their thought process so as to make a discussion/negotiation possible.
This, of course, would not do!
This morning I sprung into action and coded up the ability to add comments to bills, and to include these comments in the emails sent out whenever a bill is changed. That change will go live in a few minutes (less than 24h after the event that spurred me into action!)
The main points of this story are:
- I love that we can make changes quickly. Yay, us! Yay, Ruby on Rails!
- The best way to get a change into BillMonk is to take one of us out to dinner (*cough*)
- I have a social life, but…
- The boundary between my social life and work life is wearing dangerously thin