Sunday, August 9, 2009

Out of State Check

Time: 1974
Place: Chattanooga, TN

I was working as a busboy for a Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant. One Saturday night, a couple came in for dinner. Nice couple. Preppy college students. After they ate, the guy got up and left the restaurant. The girl stayed and waited. And waited. And waited. She began to look nervous and upset. She didn’t want anything else or to have her water glass refilled. She just wouldn’t leave the table.

Finally, her waitress asked if anything was wrong. Turned out, the girl barely knew the guy she’d had dinner with. They both went to UT. They were both part of a larger group of friends who had driven out of town for a UT football game. He had asked her if she would like to ride alone with him in his sports car and she had said yes. They had mutual friends. He seemed like a nice fellow. He had a nice sports car. How could she say no?

They had stopped in Chattanooga on the way home from the game to get dinner. She didn’t have any money on her, but he wanted the dinner to be his treat. However, after they ate, he said that he didn’t have enough money to pay the bill. He told her to wait while he went to cash a check.

And there she was still waiting, hours later. The waitress, who by now had told the other waitresses what was going on, was livid. In fact, all the waitresses were livid. In their opinion, this guy was obviously a major league dick. Not only did he leave this girl stranded in a strange city, he left her with a bill she couldn’t pay. The waitress assured the girl she didn’t have to pay the bill. They’d find a way to help her.
The girl thanked the waitress, but she was actually worried something might have happened to the guy. She just couldn’t believe he was a jerk, though her faith in him was faltering the more time passed.

Lo and behold, the guy returned. He had been driving all over town, trying to convince someone to cash an out of state check. Finally, he got a guy at 7-11 to do it. Keep in mind, this was a time before cellphones and ATMs. He had no choice but to keep the girl in the dark while he tried to get cash on a weekend night.

The guy paid the bill. He and the girl left for Knoxville in his nice sports car. I wish I could say they fell in love, got married, and repeatedly told their children the story about the time he had left her in a restaurant in Chattanooga, but I never saw them again. For all I know, they had nothing to do with each other once they got back to school. Or they went on two more dates and decided they just weren’t interested. Or they dated a year before he figured out he was gay. I just don’t know. But they do share a nice story.

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