Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saved by the Bud

Paul and I went inside to place the order. We were midway through our wait for an outside table and had already killed a bottle of wine, a dozen oysters, some shrimp and some fried calamari. It was no problem: the rain had passed, and it had turned into a nice night. And so having appetizers and some drinks while sitting on the restaurant's patio, chatting and watching the boats go by wasn't exactly rough duty.

But horrors, we realized our bottle of wine was empty. With the place being busy, we decided to head in to the bar and get another ourselves, rather than waiting for a waitress to come to us. We ordered, then both reached for our wallets and started to argue over who would pay. The busy bartender let us go for a few seconds, then had had enough: "Why don't I just split it for you?" We agreed, and he grabbed our cards and turned away. He quickly came back with a new bottle and sales slips. We each scribbled our names, grabbed the cards and the wine, and headed back outside to our wives.

In short order our table was called and we sat down. We enjoyed the food, the view, the remaining wine and the company. When the check came, I grabbed it. After all, Paul and his wife had been most generous in inviting us to their place by the beach for the weekend, and had even gotten the first round of drinks. The least we could do was buy them dinner, and we were still not even-steven. We departed and headed back to their place for the night.

The next morning we all awoke and decided to go to a local spot for breakfast. Once again I picked up the check, feeling that barely equaled their hospitality. Afterwards we headed back to their place, then to the beach for a bit before needing to start for home. They said they were going to do some errands before going back themselves. And so we thanked them and headed out, stopping for gas before we got on the highway.

It was later on Monday when my phone rang with Paul's number. I was wondering if we accidentally left something behind, or maybe took something we shouldn't have. It was neither and both at the same time. Turns out that that day they were also having company, just back in the city. Their nephew was coming for dinner, and so Paul had gone out to get the fixin's. He got spaghetti, ground meat and some salad stuff. For good measure, he threw a six-pack of beer in the cart. When he got to the checkout lane, it got rung up no problem. Until it came to the beer.

Paul's a youthful looking guy, but there is little doubt that he's old enough to drink. Still, a "we card everybody" policy is still a policy, even when you're confronted with a customer that looks closer to Social Security than college. And so Paul pulled out his license to prove that this Bud was for him. Except it wasn't. Because while the license identified him as him, the credit card identified him as me.

In best CSI fashion, we figured it must have happened when the bartender split the tab for the bottle of wine. We both have Chase Sapphire credit cards, which are dark blue with the name embossed in gold. Frankly, they are hard to read in good light, let alone in a busy bar after a bottle of wine. I guess when we got the cards back from the barkeep, we didn't notice the swap.

And so I happily used his going forward from that time. That dinner we bought them? On his card. The breakfast we also treated them to? Same. Even that tank of gas to get us home? Turns out it was all courtesy of our hosts for the weekend. And all he got to put on my card was some pasta and meatballs.

So forget passwords. Forget special three-digit verification codes. None of it stopped us from using another's card. In fact, had it not been for the six-pack and a by-the-book checker, we could have gone to Europe this month on Paul. Damn you, Budweiser.


Marc Wollin of Bedford used his credit card for most stuff. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

No comments: