As an apology to a friend, I sent him a $30 gift card for a breakfast.
We ate together the next week. After we finished, the waiter informed us there was still credit remaining. “You use it,” Jim said before he left.
“How much credit is left?” I asked the waiter.
“The balance is $971.12. That’s a record here. Second place is $13.78.”
“Wait,” I said, “that’s not right. The card was only for $30.” The manager came over and confirmed I could use the card’s balance.
“Our mistake,” he said, “and we will honor it.”
I told Mary Ellen, and she demanded that I return the card. I wanted other opinions. First, I emailed my brother in New York.
“Peter, I bought a $30 gift card but they credited me $1,000 by mistake. What should I do?”
Peter’s response: “About what?”
Then I emailed my editor, Heidi.
“Can you help with a situation. I have a $1,000 gift-card from a local breakfast joint, but I only paid for a $30 card.”
Her response: “First, you need a question mark after ‘situation.’ Second, gift card is not hyphenated. Enjoy your free breakfasts.”
My sister was next.
“Linda, I have a $1,000 credit on a gift card that I paid thirty bucks for. Mary Ellen says I absolutely CAN NOT use it. What choice do I have?
Linda replied, “Simple: 100 free omelets or no divorce.”
Finally, I called my friend, Bob.
“Bob, I’m not hurting anyone if I use the card, am I?”
“You’d be killing chickens.”
“I’m just eating the eggs.”
“They could have been chickens.”
Bob asked his wife what she would do.
“Cathy agrees with Mary Ellen, 100 percent.”
“Did you tell her what Mary Ellen said?”
“No, why would that matter?”
I did cut up the card. I was looking forward to a three-egg, four-cheese omelet every Sunday for two years, so I’ll be little down about that — but so will my cholesterol.
Mary Ellen was happy. She said if the café caught their mistake, I’d have egg on my face for using the card. Which was my plan from the beginning.