Saturday, August 15, 2009

Low on Cash

Ever dined in a restaurant only to find when the check arrives that you have no means to pay it? Me neither. That doesn't happen these days because 99% of all stores and restaurants accept credit or debit cards. So even if you find yourself low on cash, or the checkbook is at home, there is still a way to pay the bill. The only places around here that only accept cash or check are a tiny local pizza joint near our house and, as I found out today, the nail salon where I got a pedicure.

It was the picture of bliss and relaxation. Me, half-dozing in the massage chair with a book open in my lap as the woman massaged my calves. She had already buffed away the sandpaper-y layers of dead skin from my feet and applied a beautiful red polish to my toenails. A pedicure is a rare treat in which I don't often indulge. After my toes had air-dried for a while it came time to pay the bill. $20. That is a really good price, if you ask me. I only had $15 cash so I asked if credit/debit card was okay. I asked in the way that assumes the answer is "yes" since everybody takes plastic. So you might imagine my surprise when the answer was "cash or check only." Gulp. I looked in my wallet again, as if somehow I might be able to will another ten dollar bill into existence. A check was about as likely as a golden coin since I stopped carrying my checkbook with me years ago. I simply could not pay the bill!

This is where acute mortification began. I wasn't sure how to proceed. This had never happened before. Images of doing dishes in the restaurant kitchen flashed through my mind, but they were completely out of context here. Would they demand I leave some sort of jewelry or valuable? Would they call the police? I sheepishly admitted to the girl that I didn't realize it was cash or check only and therefore only had $15 cash. She told me to give that amount to her, go get cash, and return with the remainder. I slinked out to my car, face as red as my toenails. I promptly called Cody to ask if there was a bank branch nearby as I was in a part of town I don't know well.

The Phone Conversation:
Me: Can you please look online to see if there is a bank near here?
Cody: Do you need some cash?
Me: Yes, I'll tell you about it when I get home.
Cody: You don't have a gun pointed at you, do you?
Me: (rolling my eyes) No.

Although, as I thought about it later, that was sweet of him to ask. For all he knew, I could have been in some compromising situation, afraid for my life, unable to say anything about it. Nice of him to cover all the bases.

I couldn't find a bank, so I just ran into a Walgreens down the street and got cash back with a small purchase. I drove back to the nail salon, gathered my courage, and re-entered the scene of my humiliation. I gave the lady the remainder of the fee plus a huge tip. I guess I wanted to help assuage any mental anguish she had suffered in wondering if I would return with her money or not.

I'm not sure if I will ever set foot in that nail salon again.


Elaine said...

Oh I feel your pain! When I went to Germany a few months ago I went to a super market to get treats to take home to everyone. When I walked in I showed my credit card to the cashier and mumbled a phrase from my German book about accepting credit cards. She nodded and I even spotted a large banner with cards on it that seemed to say to me "yes, we take plastic!" So I proceeded to load up a basket with chocolate, tea, more chocolate, cookies and chocolate. It was 5:00 so lots of people leaving work were in line behind me getting their groceries for dinner when I checked out with my sugar load. The checker slid my card - it didn't work. She tried another card - it didn't work. She ran to fetch the manager. He pulled out his own wallet to show me they only take cards with this German bank name or something. A woman behind me sternly told me in English that they don't take my card. I kept repeating the German words for "I'm sorry" which are really hard to pronounce. The manager and I agreed that I would go get cash and come back to pay my 25 euro bill - which I did. I felt like such a tourist.

Rachel said...

Well, you'd think they'd have a sign saying they don't take cards because you are right...everyone else does! If it had been me, I would have only had $6 in my wallet and that is a good day. I do carry my checkbook with me always, though. I don't know why since I don't use it that much. Just in case, I guess.

Quad Squad! said...

I can guarantee you I would never go back there! How awful! At least they seem to have been nice about it!

Brandy said...

thanks...that was laugh out loud funny! oh, sorry for your humiliation though...