I was working in Dallas, on the last day of a four-day stint and having a beer at the local Chili’s to celebrate, when I noticed this little old lady, looking crafty.
She was sitting at a hightop nursing an Arnold Palmer, a half-finished tuna and rye before her, when I saw her make her move. She abruptly stood, touched her forehead with a little “oooooh,” and dropped to the ground.
The waitress screamed. The busboy dropped his load. The manager hung up the phone, looking panicked. I calmly stood, walked over, distracted everyone by pointing out the window, and gave her a good kick.
It’s the oldest trick in the book: faking a cerebral hemorrhage to get a free meal. In Arizona, the blue-hair capitol of the world, we see it all the time; I knew what she was up to.
She pretended to grunt, made a fake grimace, and then with one eye looked up at me, as if to say “don’t ruin this for me, boy.” I leaned down to tell her I was on to her game, but by then the manager was there, falling for her theatrics.
They were fawning over her like she was the Queen of England.
They lifted her up, dusted her off, gave her a glass of water, and offered to call a doctor. But no, she assured them she was okay, but was acting all shaken up, like she was still one foot in the grave. Finally, they gave her a stack of meal coupons and sent her on her way, happy that she wasn’t going to sue.
It worked like a charm: a free meal, every time. As if the senior citizen discount wasn’t enough.
At the doorway, she turned my way and gave me a little wink. Watch and learn, sonny. These old ladies are sly.