As 2009 progresses and mass layoffs, retail giants closing their doors and government bailouts become everyday occurrences it is increasingly apparent that the average American needs to develop new skills in order to stretch their paycheck in today’s economy. Like Lloyd Banks said: “I’m here to cash checks/and make my cash stretch/longer than giraffe’s necks”...And aren’t we all? However, the old ways of saving money do not work for most Americans, the idea of depriving oneself of Starbucks (this “coffee” in most cases is actually more like a milkshake and only called “coffee” because the company doesn’t want to remind it’s customers what fat f**k’s they are by telling them they are actually having banana splits for breakfast), designer clothing that will be the butt of jokes in 2 year or obscene 1,000 channel cable packages that are designed to systematically lower our national IQ with shows like “Dancing with the Stars”, “My Name is Earl” and “Bromance” is as antiquated an idea to most of us as living without a cell phone or using a public library.
However, there is one surefire way to save money and still live comfortably that is often overlooked by most financial publications and websites: scamming your friends. There are many ways to do this that will save you money, but several will end in a trail of broken friendships, people hating on you behind your back and possibly violence. The most obvious and popular way to procure money from your acquaintances is to involve them in a pyramid scheme. While this sounds like a good idea at first (they alway do), you have to realize that in order to initiate your friend into the scheme, you had to be taken advantage of by someone else first, it’s like being jumped into a gang. Further, you are basically saying you never want to speak to this person again when you offer them this “exciting business opportunity” because it hard to hang out with somebody that convinced you to invest five grand in a complicated network of organic juice producers that has yielded zero residual income for either of you. Also, a new trend in pyramid schemes (I have no idea why I keep up to date on this topic) is online grocery shopping. While this seems like a solid idea, online food shopping is like volunteering at a homeless shelter: you know you can do it, you’re pretty sure other people do it, but there’s no effin’ way you would ever do it yourself.
The following are more socially acceptable ways to have your friends pay for your extravagant lifestyle completely free of repercussions. However, exercise caution with using the same techniques with the same group of friends too many times, faking a seizure with your “work people” will eventually get stale and they will stop feeling sorry for you and start saying things like “What’s Shakin’?” every time they see you because they are tired of buying your dinners when you are supposedly being rushed to the hospital. But feel free to use the same tactic with your “high school friends,” “family” or “gym people” because they will not be familiar with the rouse.
Pretending to lose your wallet/handbag
Nothing illicits sympathy from friends and family like somebody losing all their cash, credit cards and forms of identification. On a side note, if this actually happens you are forced to go to DMV and produce “6 Points of Identification”, which seems odd because if you had “6 Points of Identification” you wouldn’t be there. The fact that all of your “Points of Identification” has been lost or stolen is why you are there and it seems unreasonable for them to ask for 6 more “Points of Identification” then you have. They should probably set a more realistic goal like 2-3 points and a freestyle rap including your name, address, vehicle and a few outside interests.
Pulling off this hoax is not that difficult, just order whatever you want, enjoy your meal and when the check comes reach for your pants pocket, then pat yourself down and then look exasperated and exclaim “I can’t find my wallet.” There will be a few seconds where everyone will look around the table, but nobody in their right mind, or their wrong mind for that matter, will look where the wallet actually is: safely in your pocket. After a minute or two your friends will pay for your meal and when you call everybody the next day to say something to the effect of “the funny thing was it was in my car the whole time...hardy, har, har” nobody will ask to be repaid, they will feel like good samaritans, you got a free chicken caesar wrap and that’s a win-win.
There are a few minor complications in this scam that make it not applicable for all situations. Alcohol consumption is tough because even your best friends will find it hard to believe you somehow had your ID, but no money or credit cards, however this can be quickly remedied by carrying a money clip and talking about how you never keep your cash with your wallet because of an irrational fear of being stuck up in your palatial suburb, also if your people are pretty wasted, they won’t really care or remember too much about this whole ordeal. Secondly, this works best when you are going to several venues in a row and eating at the end because it affords the opportunity to have everybody retrace your steps in a futile effort to figure out where you left your stuff, an example being: “Well, you definitely had it in the bowling alley, but maybe you dropped it in the theatre when we were watching “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” I’ll bet one of those bastard ushers picked it up and are buying all of their delinquent friends crystal meth with your money” while you just smile smugly, knowing your money is safely tucked in your pocket.
Staging a fraudulent medical emergency
One of the best ways to get a free meal is the little used technique (outside of families of con-artists) of faking medical emergencies like heart attacks, epileptic seizures, choking or aneurisms when the bill comes. Any kind of calamity will work, however extreme caution should be used when faking a stroke because you will be forced to act like one side of your face is paralyzed every time you see that group of friends or dine at that restaurant again.
If faking a life-threatening emergency that will pull EMS and Hospital workers away from real emergencies is beyond your capabilities, either because you believe in karma or have some modicum of human decency, feel free to fake a less serious injury that the restaurant can be held liable for. A good example of this is tripping on something on your way to the rest room, to really make this work when you are laying on the ground, surrounded by restaurant employees you should exclaim the following: “Oh my god! I’ve never been hurt before and I don’t know what to do! I’ve never experienced physical discomfort in any capacity and I am totally confused by these sensations. For Christ’s sake I think I’m going into anaphylactic shock, get an eppy pen and notify the proper authorities!” This kind of reaction will make even the most stoic maitre’ d nervous as hell about being sued and at the very least your meal will be comped and you may possibly be given shares of stock in the establishment depending on how convincingly you sell your panic and litigiousness.
Planting broken glass in your plate after you’ve finished eating
Everybody knows there are only two possible scenarios when a patron claims to have a potentially dangerous foreign object on their plate:
Option 1 (Deal with the waiter)
Patron: I think this is broken glass under my baked potato.
Waiter: Sir, I apologize for our whole staff, dinner is on us and can we get you any dessert or drinks?
Option 2 (Bypass the waiter completely and speak to the manager)
Patron: I think this is broken glass, I’ve already spoken with my legal counsel and we are prepared to sue the establishment for $2.5 Million, but we can be persuaded to settle out of court.
Manager: Who should I write the check out to?
Get in a fight
The impending threat of physical violence arouses such an adrenaline rush in all those involved that if you can provoke another patron to attack you there is a pretty good chance the restaurant will be happy to have you leave regardless of whether you paid your bill or not. Some great ways to start a fight with other diners is to throw a napkin holder, bread & butter plate or specialty drink menu directly at some guy's face as he is about to take a bite of his Death by Chocolate cake, standing up in the middle of the lunch rush and yelling racial/religious slurs at the top of your lungs or constantly referring to your server as “Flap Jack,” “Cap,” or “Bub.”
Alcohol Poisoning/Stomach Pump
While clearly the most extreme technique to avoid a bill, this is also the most fun. Just get so loaded that you pass out and possibly convulse before it is time to pay so your friends feel the need to take you to the hospital because they fear you will pass out and choke on your own vomit (alcoholics often refer to this level of intoxication as “rock bottom”, however I will argue that choking on somebody else’s vomit is actually a much more unpleasant experience...or so I’ve heard). In order to get this drunk you have to start early (when everybody else is ordering Micheloeb Ultra’s with dinner you have to be on Mind Erasers) and continue drinking at a good clip all night (ordering multiple drinks on each trip to the bar, double-fisting and doing shots when no one is looking will all probably be required). By the time you wake up from your drunken stupor your friends will be so happy you are alive that none of them will have the gall to ask for your part of the bill.
There are two factors that make this method even more attractive. First, I recently read Koren Zailckas’ Smashed, in which she tells her personal tale of alcohol abuse and states that after your stomach is pumped and your body is intravenously re-hydrated you actually feel great with no sign of a hangover. Get Drunk/Don’t Pay/Feel Great The Next Day... how could you NOT to do this? Secondly, under President Obama’s universal healthcare plan, you will not even have to pay for this service because the government (aka taxpayers) will pay to make you well after you went out of your way to make yourself sick. I will openly admit that I don’t understand how this will work, but P. Diddy endorsed it in between commercials for Ciroc Vodka and rhyming off-beat over an Ace of Base sample, so who am I to argue?