On Monday afternoon, I helped facilitate an apartment exchange for my friend John, who rents his place out to vacationing Europeans when he is on vacation. It basically means handing over the keys, taking the payment, showing them around the apartment, etc. No problem, right?
Philippe and Catherine arrived right on time, but with a minor glitch--none of their credit cards would give them money from ATMs. They could purchase things from stores, and even got $100 from a cash machine at the airport, but suddenly every bank was telling them they had insufficient funds.
They were mortified. They promised they were good for it. "I will stay in a hotel, is no problem." Of course, two hours later, all I wanted to do was go home. But I couldn't let them wander around looking for a hotel after they'd been flying all day, hungry and tired, thirsty, getting ornery. "I think now I am beginning to stress," said Philippe.
Back at the apartment, he made me look over his shoulder at his bank balance on line, as if to prove that with some fiddling once the banks in France were open again--the time change was certainly against us--all would be remedied.
They were grateful that I allowed them to stay--this was after getting the final okay from John, of course, who I called in Italy to discuss their plight. He agreed that they were most likely legit. And then I walked them to the grocery store and the drugstore, where they later told me they bought some kind of washing detergent that cost them nine dollars.
The punchline of this story comes when, on the way to the store, Catherine asked me "Do you have a girlfriend?" "I have a boyfriend," I told her. A look of excited recognition flashed across her face and she hugged her shoulders. "OH!," she spouted. "I am a hairdresser!"