My daughter has one of the most generous grandmothers. She has really been a big help to my wife and me when we first made the move to Washington and she continues to help in any way she can. Many times when we’re all traveling together on an outing or “eating out” she’ll offer to pay, and she will sincerely have the desire to pay when she makes the offer, but she has an uncanny ability to offer to pay and then “accidentally” find herself unable to pay. She has been able to pull off this maneuver so frequently and in so many different ways that our response has become one of amusement and fascination. I’m now of the mind that she is some sort of seasoned veteran of this very unique art form; a Jedi master of the “I’ll pay, oh I can’t pay!” slight of hand. Listed below are a few of the techniques she has mastered.
1. The “I forgot my wallet at home” technique
Not much to this one. We’re at a restaurant and she reaches for the bill while the words, “I’ll get this one.” escape her lips. She could be totally sincere and I’ll still pull out my wallet, because I know her to be a master of the “I forgot my wallet at home” double take. Her generosity is legendary, but on this occasion it cannot manifest itself monetarily. “Next time I’ll get it, Chris. You remind me.” Roger that, master…Jedi master…and poof I’ve forgotten what we we’re talking about.
2. The “I’ll pay with my Starbucks card, oh no!…It’s empty” technique
Okay, so we’re all in a Starbucks on a cold wet day and our little 3-year-old is asking grandma very sweetly, “chocolate milk please, gwanma.” (still working on those pesky R’s) Grandma would like to treat us all to a tasty Starbucks beverage using her Starbucks card. We are putty in her hands and fall hook, line and sinker. The cashier takes her card and low and behold the card has 36 cents left on it. At this point both Grandma and I reach for our wallets. Guess where Grandma’s wallet is? (Hint: refer to technique 1) “I’ll pick this one up, Grandma.”, thinking to myself, “She’s a genius and I fell right into that one.”
3. The “I have my credit card but I don’t have my ID” technique
This one’s kind of interesting. We’re sitting in a drive-thru and Grandma offers to pay. She passes up a credit card she has pulled out of either her pocket or her mythical wallet. I don’t see how this could possibly go south. For some reason I turn the card over and notice that the signature reads, “See ID”.
“See ID?”, I turn back and ask with a puzzled look on my face. She explains that She read or saw on TV somewhere that signing a credit card with this is safer for the card holder. She proceeds to do the fake pat of her pockets to appear to be looking for her ID. Well played, Grandma. Well played.
4. The “I gave up spending money for lent” technique
This past year Grandmother decided to give up spending money for lent and so, for 40+ days, she commenced to eat random packages of food she found deep in her freezer and canned goods covered with dust found in the dark recesses of her pantry. She also welcomed the generosity of her friends and family on occasion, and we were happy to take her out for a few meals during her endeavor to refrain from spending in the days leading up to Easter.
She is one of a kind; a marvel to behold really, and she has much to teach us. I actually look forward to seeing what new and unique methods of evasion she has in store for us in the coming days and months. The funny thing is she herself has no idea what her next new technique will be until we happen to be in the midst of the situation. It’s as if she has some sort of mystical “force” flowing through her.
Note: This piece was written with love, respect and admiration for…and permission from my mother-in-law, who in all seriousness is quite generous and I’ll frown in the general direction of anyone who says otherwise.