Balancing act.

You know those ATM receipts that everyone throws out? Some machines provide bank balances. An old friend of mine would rummage through the trash bin next to the ATM to find the ones showing the highest balances. He would save the ones over $10,000.

He would take a few with him every time he went to a club. If a girl asked for his number, and they always did, he would write it on the back of a receipt and hand it to her.

Sadly, it worked every time. They would always call.

Ugh. I hated that guy.

Balancing act.
Rules of engagement.

I had just gotten engaged and it was the first time I had ever worn my pretty sparkly diamond. _I was thrilled! _I couldn't stop staring at my hand.

My husband and I had gone to the jeweller together to choose the ring. I chose a pretty heart-shaped diamond. It was fairly small at just under a carat, but it was crystal-clear, and of fine quality. My fellow was not a cheapskate. He insisted it be of the finest quality, although that wasn't very important to me.

It is the first (and only) precious stone I will ever own, the single diamond in my collection. It is a symbol of my devotion, my pledge and loyalty to the one I love.

That day, joining in the festivities of our best friend's house party (it was a holiday), I felt triumphant; I had finally become officially engaged.

While circulating, and speaking to different people at the party, I tried not to gesture too much with my newly bedazzled hand. I couldn't help myself, though.

My fiancé, mentioning our ring, grabbed my hand and stilled it for the ladies to take a closer look. They craned their bird necks in towards my hand, and then they opened their mouths.

"Oh, you just got engaged, and THAT'S your ring?" they chirped. This lighthearted ribbing seemed to encourage one awful woman in the group, who ran with the joke. She made one cruel comment after another.

"Will somebody please bring me a magnifying glass so that I can see this thing?" she said. "Hmm. It's pretty. Where's the rest of it?"

The woman squawked at her own joke, the other women parroted her laughter, then she held her hand up next to my own, and compared her much larger diamond to my smaller one.

She told me how "cute" mine was as she wrinkled her beak in disgust.

"It's so SMALL, you poor thing. You know, I made sure MY husband knew I wouldn't marry him unless he gave me at least two carats. What is this one? Less than a carat? Maybe a half carat? It's so tiny! Here's what you need to do, honey. Ask him to take it to get it cleaned. That's what I did. After complaining for a year. He made sure to come back with a ring twice the size than what he left with! Don't marry your guy until he comes back with something much bigger."

I couldn't figure out why someone wouldn't marry the love of their life if he couldn't produce a huge diamond for her. I must have looked confused, because she laughed, patted me on the head as if I were a child, and sucked her teeth in pity for me as she rose to leave me with that thought.

My heart collapsed inside, as the flock of ladies, stood and waddled over to peck at the buffet, leaving me sitting on the step staring at my pretty, tiny ring.

I let it sparkle in the sunshine, catching the rainbows, and smiled.

Rules of engagement.
Pro tips.

I used to be in a relationship with a person who did that "I'm going to lay the entire tip out on the table at the start of the meal, then make a big show of subtracting money every time the server displeases me" thing.

It was obnoxious. He also thought that he could get service faster by slowly nudging the water glass closer and closer to the edge of the table; the idea was that the waiter would be inexorably drawn to a piece of glassware about to drop and break.

There's a reason he's an ex.

I've also ridden in a car with someone who honest-to-goodness said these words: "Outta my way, I'm in an SUV!" Until that point, I hadn't realized anyone actually _said _that.

Pro tips.
Image or mirage?

I lived in LA for 5 years, so the stories are plentiful. You could feel the pretense around you at all times. I was openly criticized for my wardrobe, my hair, my lack of plastic surgery, etc. Forget the wanna-bes and the barely-actors - literally 80% of the population was like this. My prime example:

I went to a friend of a friend's house to pick up this woman, let's call her Jane. Her house was huge, in a nice neighborhood, perfectly manicured, and had some sort of high end luxury vehicle that was obviously over $50k. I was wondering what her husband did for a living because even with our two incomes we couldn't afford a place like that. We lived in a modest two bedroom apartment and drove a Civic.

Then the door opened. It was empty, as if the movers hadn't arrived yet. We piled into my car and she wrinkled her nose and said, "I didn't know anyone still drove Civics these days!"

Turning a bit red I asked, "So why don't we take your car?"

She was flummoxed that I would call her out for that. But after a moment she explained.

She didn't have gas and payday was next week, so she couldn't put gas in the car.

They had lived in that house, in that condition for over a year. She bought high end clothing brands at multiple stores, made sure I saw all of the tags and refused to buy anything on sale because 'that was soooo last season'.

Her house doesn't have furniture, she can't afford gas, she doesn't have a job, and all of these extravagant things were going on credit cards.

Image or mirage?
The suite life.

One day I was standing in the Presidential suite of the hotel I was working for at the time, waiting to take down the luggage of a guest who was in the room. I won't say who it was. He had prepaid two weeks in this hotel room, at 15k a night (210k for the stay) before taxes and fees.

This was on day three of his stay.

He had four people packing all of his luggage when he walked out of the main bedroom to the bar in the living room. He took out a can of Coke, opened it, took a small sip of it, and set it down. He then walked over to where his people were packing his luggage, and gave last minute instructions really quickly.

He then walked back to the bar, opened a new can of Coke, took a small sip of it, set it down, and then went down to the lobby and shuttled off to the airport without ever checking out or getting the rest of the money(165k) he spent on the stay back.

30-second-old Coke was not good enough for this man. That is why he required a second can.

For those wondering why he left after 3 days? He felt the urge to go swimming in the ocean.

The suite life.
HEY. There's no bad wine.

I cooked a dinner party for a regular guest of the restaurant at which I worked. This was something he did every year. He had two wines to pour with the main course. One was a Bordeaux Superior (which is a relatively low-level Bordeaux, think thirteen dollars a bottle). The other was a Burgundy of such shaky provenance that the village wasn't even noted in the appellation (in English, this was a lowest-of-the-low-level Burgundy, like a fifteen dollar bottle).

But that didn't stop him.

He referred to the Bordeaux as "grand cru," which is a legally controlled classification (and this one wasn't). Then he called the Burgundy "super grand cru," which is not a thing. And even if it was a thing, this particular Burgundy wasn't it. There was nothing wrong with the wine he was pouring, it just blows my mind how much trouble he was going to to make everyone think it was expensive.

He also gave the cooks gift-baskets, which was nice, and which I really appreciated. Each one had a bottle of bottom-shelf Rioja in it, which he described as a fifty-dollar bottle. Again, it wasn't. It was a ten dollar bottle. And I, a broke cook, was happy to get my hands on it.

But why did he lie? He just made himself look like a clown, when he was throwing a really nice party. I felt bad for him.

HEY. There's no bad wine.
They say there's one born every minute.

I was serving this couple at a beachside restaurant. They were in their late 20s. The guy was shirtless and the girl had designer shades and purse. At the beach.

Anyway, it was Saturday lunch and we were slammed. The man asked for a side of chipotle mayo sauce to go with their popcorn shrimp. It costs 50 cents, but I had to ring it in or else I'd get in trouble from the kitchen manager.

I was tending to other tables when the man walks up to me and says, "Hey! We've been waiting over ten minutes for that sauce." (It was five minutes max.) I tell him it'll be coming out right away, but he refuses to leave me alone.

He follows me around the restaurant and shows me his I.D. saying, "I work for the state, bro. You better get me that sauce right now. I'll give you fifty bucks to go in the kitchen and grab it." I tell him to keep his money and go back to the table seeing as I'd already rung it through.

He continues to linger and hover over me as I put in an order on one of the computers. Finally, he turns around and sees the sauce was delivered to his table. His girlfriend motions him over.

He mutters a homophobic slur under his breath as he walks away. I just kept my cool and didn't respond. I dropped off their check and was cordial with them afterwards. They ended up leaving a one dollar tip on a sixty dollar bill, so in hindsight I wish I'd taken that sucker's fifty dollars.

They say there's one born every minute.
Running out of patients

I pulled up to a drive-thru ATM one time with only one car ahead of me at the machine. I was chatting a bit with my kids who were in the car and subconsciously realized that the car at the ATM had been there for at least three minutes, which is a comparatively long time to wait in an ATM line.

I started watching the car directly and realized that the driver was having zero interactions with the ATM machine itself: no button pushing, envelope inserting, etc. Meanwhile, another three or so cars had lined up behind my own.

After nearly another two full minutes of this, I got out of my vehicle and started approaching the car from the driver's side. Inside, I spotted a middle-aged woman who was chatting away on her phone with the window rolled up. She caught my movement toward her in the rear view mirror, hung up the phone, rolled down her window and profusely apologized for blocking access to the machine and indicated she would move. Although I was annoyed, I politely waved to her and turned back to walking toward my car to pull ahead to the ATM.

I'd like to say that was the end of it, but after walking back another 10 feet or so, this woman quickly opened her door to lean out backward from the driver's seat and called out slightly annoyed to me saying, "Sorry again. I was just trying to get caught up with consultationsfor some of my patients." And then she drove off.

To this day, I have no idea whether this person was a full-fledged M.D., a veterinary nutritionist, or something in between. But in her mind being someone responsible for patients (as well as having an apparent lack of time management skills) made her important enough to be wholly excused for parking her car anywhere she cared to.

Running out of patients
But I'm beautiful!

I used to work at a department store in an upscale area. I'm a sometimes smoker, so I would occasionally go out to the bench in the parking garage to have a cigarette. This was right outside one of the doors, and therefore next to the designated spaces for people with disabilities.

Non-handicapped people would park in them from time to time, and although it annoyed me, I didn't usually find the courage to say anything.

One day though, a young woman pulled into the space. She got out and it was like a scene from a movie. She was tall and blonde, and her hair swayed in the wind. She looked like a supermodel.

I stepped up to her and said, "Excuse me, but you've parked in a handicapped space."

She pulled her sunglasses down her nose, looked at me with vacant eyes, and said, "I'm only going in for a minute." Then she slid her glasses back up and walked off like she couldn't be bothered.

But I'm beautiful!
The dry cleaning bills alone...

Yesterday, I flew back to Miami from Las Vegas. There was a 30-something-year-old woman in business class, dressed head to toe in a crazy high-end designer. Whole outfit was easily worth just as much as her plane ticket.

As I walked towards my seat and passed her, I realized she was not by herself. She had a little puppy with her.

Guess what the little dog was wearing and what bag she was in?

Yeah, there you go, you got it.

The same designer.

One of the most pretentious things I have ever seen.

The dry cleaning bills alone...
Guess who.

When I was in college, a girl in my dorm received a new pair of expensive brand name acid washed jeans (this was around 1986). The girl did not like clothing with showy labels, so she carefully tore it off.

Her roommate, Jennifer, took the label and sewed it on to her no name jeans. Jennifer was very pretentious.

Another incident that comes to mind with Jennifer was when we went on a visit to Tijuana. She bought a fake purse there from a very high end brand. We went into another store there which was also selling knock-offs and she showed the clerk in that store her purse. She asked him if he thought it was real and he said yes.

When we got back to school, she told everybody that she bought this purse and that it was a real purse and she had it appraised to verify its authenticity.

She was a nice enough person. Looking back on it, I guess she just had low self-esteem and thought that she could impress people with what she wore.

Guess who.
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