Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Day I Left My Wife and First Born as Collateral

It's funny how you would never in your wildest dreams imagine doing such a thing as the title of this post. In fact, you probably would swear on your mother's grave that you wouldn't no matter what the reason. Just recently, the day came when I was forced to face that situation and I must say that I honestly left my wife and first born behind as collateral.

I was walking up to the counter of the local, not as good as Los Laureles in the Urban Jungle, Mexican restaurant and reaching for my wallet in my back pocket. It wasn't there. I tried a couple more times to verify I hadn't just 'missed it' and then the opposing pocket. I came up empty on all accounts. Panic sets in briefly but then I soon realized what had happened. Being it Sunday, I had put on my church pants and simply forgot to add the wallet and though it was now lunch time, this was the first time I needed the wallet. It was probably still back home.

Although I'm not a 'regular', I've eaten at this restaurant probably hundreds of times over the years and since this is a small town, I would like to think that the Mexican man who runs the place would know me well enough for me to joke about the situation. So when I walked up to the counter to pay my bill, the following conversation to place.

Me: "Well I forgot my wallet so I'm going to have to do dishes."

Owner: (blank stare)

Me: "I don't have any money to pay you. Can I work off what I owe you?"

Owner: (I could see the wheel start to turn inside his head and I knew he thought I was trying to pull a fast one over on him.)

Me: "Is it alright if I go home while my wife and daughter wait here and get some money?"

Owner: (nods... he is a man of few words and always has been.)

So I left my wife and daughter behind as collateral and drove home across town to retrieve my wallet and went back. I gave him a healthy nearly 50% tip for his understanding and all was good in the world. But still I feel as if I crossed a line and it didn't really feel as bad as I would have thought...


Vince said...

I would never go back there again. And not from embarrassment.
There might be some reason at McDonnell's for you to go through that sort of scenario with there the turnover of staff is unbelievable. But heck, he knew you. Knew your wife and surely recognised your kid. And honestly, for the sake of what, $150 tops, he inflicted a degree of embarrassment on your wife, over the hour or so it took you to get the clip.
If that person had any sort of business sense, he would have waved the bill. Or at least said 'pay next time'. Then he would have a customer for life, along with all the people you would have told about the matter.
In Latin there is a saying, that you don't fish with a gold hook, for anything you catch will never balance the possible loss.

Ed said...

Vince - It only took me 15 minutes to get my wallet and get back to the restaurant but even if it had taken longer, I understand his actions. He is from a foreign land and has a rudimentary grasp of English at best. I'm sure had I insisted, I could have taken the bill and mailed him a check or left with family in tact to go get my wallet and he would have been fine with that. I didn't mention it in my post but my wife saw his reaction, knew his uncertainty in what I was trying to say to him and volunteered to stay while I went to get my wallet. Due to his lack of English, I'm sure he gets taken advantage of often enough and this was my way of assuring him I wouldn't do so too. I will go back to the place mostly because it is one of the better Mexican places in town.

Red Star said...

Ed I think I have to agree with Vince on this one, to a certain degree. My father offered that same leeway to customers who needed a break from time to time.It surely does pay off I can attest to that from experience. You were honorable in your handling of it as well even if he was the only "game" in town to your liking. the owners language barrier is a whole other blog my friend :)

geri said...

What you did made sense to me, so was the owner's reaction. At least that's how we would do it in the Philippines. But I wonder what would have had happened if it was just you and Little Abbey no missus? That would require more creativity. =)

sage said...

I am hoping he spoke so little English that he didn't know what you were talking about... Otherwise, I'd also never go back to the place. If I suggested leaving my wife and child, I'd be slapped (and my daughter would kick me in the shin). Your comment to Vince cleared that up, in that she volunteered.

Ed said...

Red Star - Had he understood me enough to do as you and Vince suggested, he certainly would have earned a more loyal customer for sure.

Geri - There would have been no question, he would either have call the police or let me and my daughter go home to get my wallet.

Sage - It seems as if I may be a bit out of touch with my expectations. It is nice to know what should be expected if this happens again, which I hope it doesn't.

Ron said...

I hardly ever carry my wallet on me... pesky thing. :)


Beau said...

Ah, you're very nice. Seems to me that "hundreds of times" would make you a regular! I would have felt chagrined over forgetting my wallet, but stopping back later would have seemed just fine too... Anyway I'm sure he appreciated your straightforward manner. I agree however... a good businessperson would offer you a nice meal or discount next time for your patronage!

Murf said...

Whoa. Red Star left a comment?!? I'm so stunned I forgot what I was going to say about this post.

TC said...


I'm glad you got them back ;)

Eutychus2 said...

I like your story Ed, I've been there, much earlier in my marriage. Now days, if I were in that situation with my wife and a grandchild, she would have insisted she take the grandchild and leave me in the resturant to get the money. Crazy thing is she wouldn't have returned for some time - long enough time for me to have actually done some dishes!! Maybe in easier economic times the owner would have been more gracious? who knows.

R. Sherman said...

I did that once in Mexico of all places with a cab driver. It worked out well, inasmuch as I'm in one piece.


Bone said...

The only problem I could see here in your actions was if you'd stopped off for a snack on the way home... and maybe if you'd caught 15 minutes of a game on TV and a quick nap before you headed back.

I personally wouldn't have a problem with any of that, but some people might.