Cheap Tricks

A friend of mine was taken out to dinner on Christmas Eve to a swank hotel. She was in black velvet and pearls sitting in the dining room with her date. They had just finished a lovely meal, and the waiter brought the bill. Her date reached into his pocket and handed two slips of paper to the waiter:

“Do you take these?” he whispered furtively.

“Not during the holiday season, sir,” sniffed the waiter in a voice worthy of La Scala. “Besides, these discount coupons expired two weeks ago.”

Why are some people cheap? I don’t think it’s a gender thing. I’ve known incredibly cheap men, and extraordinarily generous women. And the other way around. I just had coffee with a female business acquaintance and when the bill came she said, “Let’s just split this. What’s half of $4.35?”

Maybe it’s a way to exercise control. Maybe they need more fibre in their diet. I’m guessing, of course. Do students of human behaviour even claim to know?

I’ll tell you about Gerry. Gerry worked in construction. He was loaded, but refused to pay a quarter to put his bike into a rack. Instead, every day he hauled it up onto the top of a dumpster on the site. Guess what happened?

You got it. They took the dumpster away.

He is not unlike the guy who asked the waiter for a refund on the portion of his meal he hadn’t eaten. He’d left one chicken wing on his plate, you see. Doesn’t he know they only discount if you leave more than a third of the entree?

An old boyfriend of mine carried a calculator with him everywhere. He constantly used it to double-check totals in supermarkets, and figure out taxes and tips to the penny. He even kept spare batteries with him in case it weakened. I was out for brunch with him once and ordered scrambled eggs. About ten minutes after the eggs came I decided I wanted an order of bacon. We finished eating and when the bill came, out came the calculator. While I vacillated between embarrassment and fury, he punched numbers onto the keypad frenetically.  He finally looked up and said, matter-of-factly: “Do you realize that if you’d ordered your bacon and eggs together, you’d have saved me $2.85?” I remember ordering a cab post haste out of there. And I don’t think I’ve enjoyed bacon since.

Do they still have those supermarket offers where you buy a certain product and get discount coupons for restaurants? A guy I know bought tons of fruit cocktail so he could get Swiss Chalet coupons. His wallet was stuffed with them and his kitchen cupboards were full of fruit cocktail.

This is the same guy whose friend in France offered him a place to stay there on his vacation. All he had to do was buy his plane ticket. I got a postcard from him. It read:

“Paris is very expensive. But you can still find a cheap dinner.”

Here’s a topper: a true story from high school about the girl who went to the drive-in on a date. Before they reached the ticket booth, her date stopped the car and casually asked her to get in the trunk so he wouldn’t have to pay for two tickets.

Apart from the fact that trunks can be hard on a hairdo, exactly what was she supposed to do once they were inside: crawl out of the trunk in front of 300 people in parked cars?

Everybody resents paying for something, of course. For me, it’s parking. I will drive my car straight into a shopping mall before I’ll pay $35.00 per half hour for anything.

There are cheap comments too. One I hear all the time is: “Yeh, I’d write poetry too, but who has the time?”

Cheapness comes in all flavours. All of them hard to swallow.

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