Chump Change


For most of my adult life I’ve struggled with the fact that I keep very little money in my wallet. It’s not that I wastefully piss it away or have no self-control, it’s just that I purposely don’t want to carry much around with me. I’m not worried about being mugged, nor am I concerned about getting careless. I simply prefer the money stay in my bank account where it belongs.

The downside to this is that it puts me into some sticky and somewhat embarrassing situations. Take a couple of weeks ago when we were staying at a nice hotel in Palm Beach Gardens. Thinking ahead because we had an early morning appointment, I splurged and booked the “two for breakfast” option so that we wouldn’t have to think twice about our morning routine. Just shower, dress, and head downstairs for a meal which has already been pre-paid. What could be more convenient?

Plus, those nicer hotels all have fancy breakfast buffets.

It’s a wonderful thing, the hotel breakfast buffet. They offer an opportunity to sample items I would probably never eat at home for breakfast such as sliced roast beef, roasted tomatoes, chicken pancakes, or baked beans. I always end up purposely putting as many of these types of things on my plate for the sole reason of walking back to the table with a straight face and hear an incredulously whispered gasp of, “Oh. My. G-d” come out of my wife’s mouth. It’s not really about conspicuous consumption so much as it is the pleasure of acting like I don’t see her staring at me in morbid fascination when I eat every single thing on my plate. And then return in search for more.

When all she has is one pathetic cup of oatmeal along with three pieces of melon, I guess there’s plenty of time to monitor what I’m eating.

But I digress, sorry. We were talking about cash, weren’t we?

So while the breakfast was paid for, I hadn’t really considered tipping. Like a good boy, I had already left the maid a few dollars back in the room. What remained in my wallet were three ten-dollar bills.

None of this entered my brain, though, until it was time to visit the omelette maker. After I pointed out the seven items I wanted him to include in the omelette, I stood there along with two other men staring up at the TV monitor of the Weather Channel. We all assiduously avoided eye contact with one another. At that hour of the morning, there’s an unspoken primal desire among male strangers to just get on with the business of sustenance and leave the social niceties for later. We instead collectively and intently focused on that high pressure ridge developing over northern Idaho until our omelets were ready.

One by one the men in front of me collected their finished omelets. It took me a few beats, but I finally caught on to the fact that the chef had a small tip tray near him, and each of my meteorological cohorts were leaving one or two dollars in it for him.

I pulled out my wallet and rediscovered that all I had were those three tens.

I raced over to our table and explained my dilemma to Gorgeous. She opened her purse and saw that she had no money in it. My wife didn’t have a cent to her name. We traveled overnight to a different city and she no money in her purse. Who does that?!!

Although food intake is not one of the things my lovely wife and I have in common, the manner in which we keep money on our person is. She too is more fond of keeping funds in the bank than keeping any in her purse.

And this isn’t the first time we’ve been caught in a sticky situation. There was also a time when I was forced to give a valet car attendant a winning $2 scratch ticket because neither of us had any small bills for a tip. You’d think I’d learn.

I thought about running over to the front desk to break one of my tens. But not only was my omelette maker glancing at me because my omelette was nearly completed, but I also saw that the check-in desk had a huge crowd of people standing around it. I looked quickly for our waiter for help, but he was MIA. Nope, I was on my own.

Oh, I know, dear readers, you’ve got all kinds of alternatives for me in your little heads right now, don’t you? You’d have gone up to the omelette maker and explained that you had no money at the moment, but you’d get back to him as soon as breakfast was over. You’d have done that, wouldn’t you? Or perhaps you’d have motioned to him the universal sign for “I’ll be back in a second!“with big wide eyes and both hands mimicking an airport tarmac attendant, and then you’d have made a bee line to that front desk anyway, right?

Yeah, I didn’t do either of those things. Or any of the other six clever ideas you’re about suggest in your comments below either.

Your humble blogger instead marched right back to that omelette station, took my overflowing omelette with the huge side of hashed browns from the chef, and placed a cool $10 bill in the man’s tray. For G-d sakes, my friends, we need to remember those who work so hard in service professions. I held my head high as I walked back to our table. I was a better man than most of the people in that restaurant right then.

Source: ClipartPanda

The omelette was delicious, of course. It better have.

Tonight we’re headed out to a holiday concert put on by the local symphony orchestra. I bought our tickets online and the parking is free. I have six dollars in my wallet. What could go wrong?

Until next time…


21 thoughts on “Chump Change

    1. The housekeeper tip is the FIRST thing I do when I enter my room because if I don’t I’ll never remember. It’s a little weird coming back from dinner and seeing a few dollars on the bathroom counter. Sometimes I forget and even think it might be from her!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I should have been there! You could have borrowed money from me.
    It is a habit left over from my Beijing days….when credit cards were usually refused, debit cards unheard of…and ATMs too few and far between.
    I do love your solution, though. (And you didn’t even take change from what was left by the men in front of you)!
    Happy Birthday, Marty. I hope that you are enjoying your German Chocolate cake!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story, which we can all relate to! At home, I never carry cash either, but I discovered while traveling in Mexico that the local economy runs primarily on cash. As such, I always had to carry bills of every denomination. With every purchase, I had to decide whether to use exact change or break a big bank note. On the plus side, no credit card bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m going to start carrying cash after reading this piece. I can’t tell you how many times I want to give someone a $1 or 2 and have to do the universal signal for “I’m empty-handed.” 10 singles seems like the way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marty, so many times you crack me up first thing in the morning! I can just see that OH MY GOD look on your wife’s face, as I often have the exact same feeling about hubs! What is it with you guys, anyway?! I have christened my guy “the Pterodactyl hunter” – because his foraging skills at a breakfast buffet are absolutely survivalist!

    You are a true gentleman to remember to tip housekeeping – so many people don’t these days. I read somewhere to leave a tip for housekeeping on the pillow! Then they know it is definitely for them! ~ Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

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