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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My Two Cents

Penny pinching has never been my thing. It is the most un-Lebanese thing you can do, but now that I have a mortgage, well let's just say that the honeymoon period of buying Prada bags at my leisure is officially over. (Insert tragic crying emoticon face here. Insert it more than once. And one more time for good measure.)

MadGlam would be (is?) horrified at my new frugal ways. We once traveled to Greece together and rented a quad, which broke down in the middle of the road... at the bottom of a hill. She sweet talked some young (Italian, I think?) teen to push it up the hill for us, but it still wouldn't work.

Much to my horror, she then attempted to get me to hitchhike with her back to our hotel. 'What? It is safe! Nothing will happen,' she proclaimed as she literally tried to shove me into a random pickup truck that pulled over. She thinks vacations are like Dirty Dancing with hot Johnny Castles picking you up. I think they're more like an episode on Discovery ID with Freddy Krueger lurking in the shadows. Anyway, we scuffled for a bit, with her pushing me by the shoulders to get in, me yelling for her to get off because I didn't feel like getting kidnapped by possible serial killers in a foreign country, thank you very much. The truck driver finally drove off. Either he understood the whole serial killer thing and got offended, or he just got bored. Either way, there was no hitchhiking.

We did not have our cell phones, but somehow managed to find a cab to take us back to the hotel. Once we got there, I told her to call the quad guy and demand her money back, since she's the one who rented the thing, and to ask him to reimburse us for the cab fare. Now it was her turn to look horrified. 'It's only five euros!' she said, too embarrassed to fight over what she considered such a small sum. This is, after all the Lebanese way. It is ayb, or shameful, to argue over money. But my American sensibilities would have none of that BS. 'It's the principle of the matter,' I shot back, reminding her of the ordeal that had just transpired. It wasn't the amount, I reminded her, but the fact that he cheated us and we shouldn't have to pay for that, no matter how little the sum.

So, she called the quad guy and he came to the hotel. I was with her for moral support. She agreed to argue over the five euros but not the cab fare. After some wrangling, the quad guy gave MadGlam her money back and she was ecstatic. She opened her palm to show me the money and there was actual glee in her expression. 'My mother will be mortified,' she said. 'Well, I'm proud of you,' I replied.

But now that I'm back living in the US, I may have taken that 'matter of principle' a little to far. I got my cable bill and it was up by two cents. Yes, I know two cents. But since the ad said that my bill would stay the same for the first year, I thought, you know, it's a matter of principle. I probably shouldn't be admitting this, but I called. And complained. Over the two cents. I didn't express outrage or anything - this is the same cable company that had sent out bills to 'annoying' customers with curse words in place of their names. I was super calm and explained the change, no matter how small, had messed up my automatic payment system.

Can you guess how this story ends? Well, I got my two cents!

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