“I’m sorry. It seems you gave me four hundred and ten rand instead of five hundred.”
And the waiter proffers the five notes we ostensibly given him a minute ago. Or did we? It’s five past one in the morning, we’ve been out since about 8pm, when we left for the Greek restaurant.
I had the peri-peri spatchcock chicken, as I do. And the Stella Artois draught. One of the few places that do it. And they do a perfectly serviceably cheesecake. And a cappuccino that skriks for min, which gives you the urge to stick around for perhaps one more of those Stellas.
Flushed with the joie de vivre and camaraderie of a successful dinner, we stroll out of the Greek and find we’re still in the mood for socialising. As luck would have it, there’s a restaurant right next door. There was a function on earlier, but it seems to be over.
Do they have room for us? Indeed they do…
After a couple of beers, you feel like moving on to whiskies. Shoo! Expensive whiskies! Four-twenty bucks for a couple of rounds? Well, there are four of us, and we did have two rounds, so maybe it’s possible.
I paid with a card downstairs, so I’ve still got cash on me. Five hundred. Hey, what the hell, keep the change. We’re feeling prodigal tonight.
And now this! I didn’t give him five hundred, I gave him four-ten! He expects me to believe I mistook a R10 note for a R100. As if I would! In this orange light!
I mean, it’s possible, but I honestly don’t think I did. Still, there’s no way to prove it. I hand over another hundie.
“There you go. One hundred rand note,” I tell him sarcastically. “Please bring me my change.”
Still unsure whether I’ve been scammed or not, I’m not sure what to tip him. The original eighty I was gonna give him? Or a token twenty? If he isn’t ripping me, then that would be rude, but if he is ripping me, he gets a wicked R100 on a R410 bill.
I’m getting a maths headache just thinking about it. And I feel scammed, whether I have been or not! Plus, they served us whisky that tasted like dishwater.
So far, so mundane. Man gets a bit pissed, gets his sums wrong at a bar. But then! A week later, the same thing happens to my wife’s mate at another restaurant. Sorry, you gave me the wrong notes. Look, two hundreds and a ten. You owe me another hundred.
Forget credit-card fraud. Now the guys are committing note-switching cash fraud. So how are you supposed to pay for your stuff?
Take a cameraphone photo of your notes before you hand them over? Write down the serial numbers? Ask for a receipt there at the table? Do an internet transfer?
I haven’t quite decided. But in the meantime, there are a couple of venues that aren’t seeing my face again.