She glided through the room, sidestepping happy soon-to-be diners discussing spring rolls and panang curry, past tables and plates and chairs and wall decorations saying no doubt happy things in crinkling Thai characters.
“Do you have another card?” she asked, holding my debit card out to me as if it were something very wet and cold that she no longer wanted to be touching.
“No,” I responded. “Could you run it again?”
“I tried to run it twice,” she said.
Then that feeling came into my gut.
You know the feeling if you’ve ever been told your card has been declined, that your significant other needs to talk or, for men, that a doctor wants you to turn your head. It’s a deep seizing of your gut coupled with the violent realization you are in fact a small child playing adult for fun and profit.
“I don’t have another card,” I said, as I either imagined or noticed the man at the next table cock his head to listen in a little better.
Responding to my sickly look with one of her own, the server glided back to the register to give my card another swipe we both knew would be futile.
“No,” she said when she came back.
Out into the rain and then to an ATM down the street where this trifling foofaraw would soon be cleared up with…
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
There are moments in life I’m proud of. Standing in a bank foyer in the rain, explaining via cell phone to a sympathetic fraud prevention employee that I really can pay for my curry while a wet man trying to get cash pretended not to listen is not one of those moments.
Then the phone beeped to let me know it was going to die.
In short, no. I have not mismanaged my funds to the point where a $7.95 kang massaman and a pot of jasmine tea made my bank go, “Enough of that now.”
Instead, some jerk wanted to buy $170 of online gaming from a place in Albany, N.Y., and thought my credit card information, culled from a store that got hacked a few months back, would be a better fit for the job than his.
The bank canceled my card as a security precaution, will send a new one within seven to 10 business days and of course can briefly remove the block to let me pay for my meal because standing on hold charging my phone in a Thai restaurant’s unisex bathroom because it had the only unguarded outlet in Lincoln Square sounds really embarrassing.
“Thank you,” I said.
I don’t know why I was embarrassed. If anyone should be embarrassed, it should be the criminal dweeblets who decided cribbing someone else’s debit info was a better solution to not-playing-Warcraft than, I don’t know, working a job like an effing adult.
(Although a man who runs a website and who has already had his identity stolen should probably not antagonize hackers. I, for one, welcome our Cheetos-stained overlords. May you never have sunlight or a carrot forced upon you.)
“They got me for $600 one time,” the server lady told me as she swiped my card.
I silently vowed to carry more cash.