"Maybe 30 years ago, I was on a business trip to Apeldoorn, Holland. My company advanced me traveler's checks (did I mention this was 30 years ago) in Canadian dollars with instructions to convert them at the bank the Monday after I arrived. No problem - I had credit cards and every restaurant accepts credit cards, right?
Anyhow, I checked into my hotel and walked around looking for a restaurant. I found one and had a wonderful (and expensive) meal. The time came to pay and I pulled out my credit card.
Turns out, 30 years ago, few restaurants in Holland accepted credit cards. Panic ensued, so the owner came out to talk to me, trying to find out how this had happened. I had no currency whatsoever, just the traveler's checks.
So, I pulled out the traveler's checks and I said, 'I am so sorry - I only have these traveler's checks, and they are in Canadian dollars.'
Immediately, the tension left the room: the owner smiled and said, 'You are Canadian?'
I said 'Yes.'
He said, 'No problem: do you know the conversion rate from Canadian dollars to guilders?'
I said 'I think it is about $0.62 Canadian is one guilder.'
He said 'No problem. We will take care of it.' I handed him a check, he took my word for the conversion rate and gave me change in guilders. He was going to change the check at the bank on Monday. No problem. Everybody wished me a pleasant stay and I left, completely baffled.
When I visited my company on Monday, I relayed this story and asked my hosts what the heck had happened. They looked at me like I was a complete idiot.
They said, 'Canada liberated Apeldoorn and most of The Netherlands during World War II. We remember.'
I love telling that story."
"A guy I was really into said he wanted to 'treat me to dinner.' I agreed. I ordered the cheapest things on the menu and he ordered the priciest drinks and entree. I'm a broke college student and had like $10 left to my name at the time. We got the bill, he tried to run his card, it was declined. He kept arguing with the waitress, saying that there were 'hundreds of dollars' on his card, and he demanded that she run it again.
I followed her to the computer and said that I'd give her all my cash and I'd leave my phone number and would get the rest of the money and tip to her the next time she was scheduled to work. I'm a waitress myself and felt horrible, and I apologized profusely. She was understanding about it and two days later, I came back, paid the rest of the bill, and gave her a huge tip. The guy kept trying to give her trouble and got real nasty with her at one point, and that was the moment I realized I'd never talk to him again."
"One time I was unable to pay my bill because the entire staff seemingly vanished on me.
My wife (then girlfriend) and her friend were out at a diner open 24/7. It was around 11 pm on a Tuesday and we ordered some grub. We got our order but hated the food. However, we could not complain that my wife's chicken was undercooked, her friend's burger was burnt and my calamari was like trying to chew on rubber because no one was around.
We finished our drinks and waited for SOMEONE, ANYONE in the restaurant to show up. But after 15 minutes, no one did. Other tables of people were looking around in shock, too. I went to the swinging double doors to the kitchen and all I heard was yelling and screaming from somewhere within. We waited another 15 minutes and finally just decided to leave.
I told the girls to 'just go' (because I was paying anyway) so they got in my girlfriend's friend's car and took off. I smoked on the front patio, waited a few minutes, then got in my car and left.
That was the only time I never paid for a meal I got in a restaurant, but hey, I wasn't able to. The entire staff that night were in some epic battle or something. They didn't even come out from the back room for at least 30 minutes. Some of the other customers followed my lead and did the same thing.
They had security cameras in the parking lot but I never did hear anything about that."
"I was 14 and went to a Chinese buffet with two of my friends. I had just gotten my first ATM card and, being an idiot, never thought that there would be places that were cash only.
The old stereotypical Chinese manager was actually getting angry. I was terrified. I told him I would go to the bank next door and come right back. He actually moved between me and my two friends, crossed his arms, and in a thick accent said, 'You go. Your friends stay here!' I'll never forget that moment.
Of course, it wasn't my bank and they charged me $2 for the transaction. The problem was I only had $20 and change in my account (I don't know about anywhere else but ATMs in Canada don't have anything smaller than twenties). I had to run to a bunch of different stores until I found one that could give me extra cash with a debit transaction. When we finally left the restaurant, my friends told me the guy stood there, glaring at them the entire time I was gone. I took so long that they started to think I had run out on them."
"About 12 years ago, I went to a steakhouse in New Jersey with my wife. It wasn't a really upscale place, it was just a steakhouse and pub, but it was still nice. We were there with our son, who was about 1 at the time. As we went to leave, I realized I had left my wallet in my work pants. My wife wasn't working (she stayed home with our son at the time) and she didn't have a bank card for my account, and didn't have any of her own credit cards. I kind of explained to the waiter what was up and asked to speak to the manager. Thankfully, he let me pull him aside. I explained to him what happened and promised him I'd call with a credit card number as soon as we got home, which would take about 40 minutes from where we were. I offered our names, the information on my wife's drivers license and our license plate number as collateral, and he agreed without much of an issue. I called as soon as we got home and paid the bill, with an extra tip for the trouble.
I was never so embarrassed in my life, but I greatly appreciated the way they handled it. I always chalked it up to them being a small, one location place as opposed to a chain, but I suppose it was just more common courtesy. Which does exist in small pockets in New Jersey."
"I was going for a meal with my significant other and found out I'd forgotten (turned out I'd lost it) my bank card on the way to the restaurant. I had £80 on me and figured it'd be enough and going all the way home seemed like a pain.
Prices weren't too bad, so we just kept track as not to overspend. We finished up and I asked for the bill confidently, only to find a freaking service charge had left me £1.50 short. The service was pretty good and I'm not the type to refuse to pay it, especially since it'd been added to our total (I would have tipped them my change anyway). I'm sure they would have waived it but it would have been pretty embarrassing.
I rarely carry change but luckily I'd scratched off a lotto card before leaving and happened to have the £1 coin I'd used in my top pocket but I was still 50p short. The wallet I was carrying happened to be a Valentine's present from my girlfriend which she'd given me the day before. She's the superstitious type and happens to believe its bad luck to give someone a new wallet or purse without some silver in it and all she'd had at the time was a 50 pence piece.
This is one superstition I now believe in."
"About 20 years ago, I stopped at some divey diner and knew I had no cash on me to pay the bill. I saw a Mastercard sticker on the door but in one of those funny coincidences, I was wondering the whole time I was in there what would happen if the place didn't take M/C. Sure enough, the waitress sheepishly told me they don't, in fact, take M/C when she gave me the bill. The owner of the place was kind of snotty about it despite the fact I pointed out the sticker on the door. We agreed I would go down the street to the ATM and come back to pay, which I did despite my better judgment. I was concerned if I didn't return the owner would take it out of the waitress's pay - he seemed like the kind that would do that."
"My wife is divorced, her son lives with his dad in Wisconsin, we're in North Dakota.
I had to work, so Wifey had driven to Wisconsin on her own to bring the boy back for the summer. On the way back, she and he filled up with gas right away in the morning and headed back to North Dakota.
Their first stop, after two and a half hours, was at a truck stop we almost always stopped at. They decided to be decadent and ordered apple pie and French fries for lunch, and they sat at the Trucker Counter, on the little diner stools, all of which was like visiting an alien planet to the boy.
The bill came, and Wifey got out her purse -- only to find her debit card was missing. The restaurant wouldn't take a check, and Wifey didn't have enough cash to cover it.
Wifey immediately called me and while we were working out the options, she suddenly stopped talking to me and I could hear her, away from the phone, saying things like, 'No, you don't have to, we'll...no, we've...oh, thank you so much.'
A crusty old trucker who was sitting next to them at the Trucker Counter paid their bill and told Wifey to Pay It Forward. He'd had the same problem in the past and was paying it forward himself. I believe Wifey tried giving him the five bucks she had in her purse, but he refused.
To add to the 'Kindness of Strangers' story: Wifey had the pay-at-the-pump receipt from the gas station she filled up that morning and called them -- the cashier immediately said, 'You must be (Wifey's) Name!' She had dropped her debit card next to the pump and somebody picked it up and turned it into the cashier. All of the events of the day gave us more faith in humanity. She had enough gas to drive to the nearest town with a branch of our bank and cashed a check for enough money to get them back to Fargo. Wifey's parents went and picked up her debit card from the gas station and mailed it to us."
"I once got into trouble because the bill was a bit more than I could afford. The waiters called the manager on me and I had to explain my situation, but he still couldn't understand my situation. I had to actually show him my wallet to prove that I couldn't afford the bill. I asked for the menu to see the prices once more, it turned out that they gave me an old menu with the old prices without telling me that they updated their menu and put new prices. The manager totally understood that and I only paid what I really had to pay and left."
"I did this once in Brooklyn with my best friend. We were just out and about and decided to stop into a new place. It was a middle eastern restaurant and we know that these places a usually really slow service but we didn't have anywhere to be for three hours, so we figured that would be enough time for lunch. We went in, got seated, waited about 20 minutes, got drinks, waited about 40 minutes, got food, ate, waited and waited for the check. After about 30 minutes, I got up and found our waitress (she was on the phone chatting with a friend) and told her we would like the check. We waited an additional 20 minutes and said 'Well, I guess they don't want our money,' and left. I never do this but seriously...she was on the phone for an hour like some 15-year-old. If they took the money out of her check, she deserved it."
"I've got two incidents that I can remember. The first was at a restaurant I frequent near where I work. I sat down and ate my whole meal and got up to pay at the counter when I realized I didn't have my wallet on me. I go there enough that the lady working told me just to pay the next time in, but I told her I knew my credit card number and could punch it in, which is what I wound up doing. She was a bit shocked I could pull that information off the top of my head but having used that card enough times shopping online, it just sticks in my head.
The second time was at a college basketball game. I took my kids which always results in a trip to the concession stand for nachos and drinks. We got all our food and I sent my wife and kids off with it to get them out of the crowd when the kid working behind the counter came back and says their credit card machine was down. I explained that I didn't have any cash and I couldn't just return the food as my kids had already walked back to their seats and were eating it. I asked if I could pay at the other concession stand, but he explained that each concession is run by a different organization for fundraising and paying at a different booth would not get the money to them. So he pointed me over to an ATM, which is when I explained I only had credit cards, not a debit card, but he insisted it would work.
Well, it didn't because the first thing it asked for is a pin number and credit cards don't have pin numbers. Eventually, I made my way back to my seat to ask my wife if she had any cash, which she didn't, but she at least had an ATM debit card. I was able to get the cash from the ATM with her card and negotiated a discount on the food for the ATM fee I was charged since it was there credit card machine being down that caused me to have to use it. By that point, though, I think the kid thought his organization was gonna have to eat the cost of the food and wasn't too concerned about losing a couple of dollars to ATM fees."
"My two best friends and I went to a local bubble tea place and rang up a bill of $65. For the three of us. At a bubble tea shop. On things like little honey sausages and banana shakes.
We were there for about four hours and at the end of the night, we all realized none of us had any cash on hand (and it was one of those Chinese places that only takes cash). I didn't have my debit card on me, and both of my best friends were living at home and paying off student loans, so they literally had less than $15 in their account at any given time.
My two best friends ended up calling their boyfriends to see whose boyfriend would race down to where we were with all the money faster, while I sat there and sadly tweeted about how single I was. I never paid the chump back for my share of the bill, but that's okay because he's been monopolizing all my best friend's time and I barely get to see her these days."
"At a Waffle House, I had less cash than I thought and I didn't know a friend had expected me to pay for her (spoiled rich girl), so the bill came to like 15 bucks and I had $10, a five and five ones. We noted the waitress's name and then laid the cash in a stack on the table and walked out. I felt like a dirty felon... We went to the girl's house and got $20 from her dad and went back and apologized, but still felt pretty terrible."
"I went with a group of friends to a Chili's and while I wasn't hungry, I had a few drinks. The rest of the party, around 8 people other than myself, ate and drank merrily. The server came with the bill and I gave her the money for my drinks and tossed her a 1oz silver ingot I had, as is my custom as a tip for excellent service of which she did provide.
I walked out and the rest of the people followed suit, once we had met up again at a friend's home, they all laughed and said they had not paid and had skipped out on the check. I was not angry, but a little later on when a friend of mine who happened to work there told me that the waitress had to pay the bill for the idiots who had walked out, I was sad and a little angry, but what can you do?"
"I have actually not been able to pay a bill and because of it, I realized I was gay. Let me explain. This happened back in the 90s when rules were a little laxer at restaurants. Some pals and I ate at a fancy steakhouse in Houston. They thought it'd be funny to ditch me with the bill when I went to the bathroom. We did pranks like this a lot, and I'd done it to them too, so I had it coming.
I didn't have enough to pay the bill, but they were cool with letting me work it off. I had to wash dishes in the back for the rest of the shift. Well, dishwashers I learned liked to mess around a lot during their shifts. One guy threw a lime at me and it hit my crotch. The other dishwasher went, 'Let me get that for you.' He kind of wiped it off, but his dishrag brushed against my junk and it just felt...right. That's kind of when I knew. Long story short, ever since then, I've been together with my life partner from the steakhouse. He's still a dishwasher and I work as an accountant for H&R Block. It's a good thing I couldn't pay that night!"
"I'm a bartender on the weekends at a major chain restaurant. I've only had two people unable to pay their bill in about two years of working there. The first was a 2-top, a young couple on some sort of Winter Ball dinner date, and I could tell the guy was a little apprehensive about handing over his credit card. Of course, it was declined. But I just told them an older couple in the dining room took care of their bill. And then told my manager that they walked out without paying.
The second time it was three dudes drinking at the bar. Two of them were wearing MMA t-shirts with 'Tap Out' written on them in glittery lettering and just had an overall tool-ish vibe to them. I overheard one of them say, 'I love it when you call women "sweetheart,"' in a thick Boston accent to one of the MMA guys but his driver's license said he was from the Mid West. Anyway, they each had like five or six 23 ounce brews and at least four rounds of shots. When they were ready to close out, I asked, 'Are you guys together or separate?' And of course one of the MMA guys made a joke about his friends being gay and told me to put it on one.
His card was declined. The other two guys looked at each other with not-so-bright looks on their faces and made grunting noises about not having any money. I told my manager and he took all three of their IDs and told them to come back and pay their bill to get them back. It was like a $150 tab. They never came back. I thought having them gone was well worth the lost money."