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Check your brain at the door!

Posted on Dec 8, 2016

Last week, a dear friend invited me and mine to join them on a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound. We jumped at the opportunity – my kids have been bugging us to take them back there ever since our first visit last December!

My friend had already booked the room, which was the same price for 2 or 4 people. We paid extra for the 5th person, which was about $50. Since she was going to be driving down anyway, the three of us caught a ride with them so we didn’t have to take my crappy car on a long drive. Perfect!

Before we left Vancouver, my friend stopped at the bank to get some American money. I had a whopping $60 in my pocket (Canadian), so she told me to put it in my account – I couldn’t use Canadian money there anyway but I could use my bank card. I did as she suggested. When I got back in the car, she handed me two American $20 bills. I looked at her quizzically. She said “Mad money. Just take it. In case you want to buy something.” Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I tucked the two 20’s in my wallet and shrugged.

What should’ve been a 4 hour drive took us 6 hours because we stopped a few times. We stopped for gas. We stopped at Costco to buy snacks. We stopped for pee breaks (because kids).  Not once did I pull out my wallet. I did not buy anything.

Our stay at Great Wolf Lodge was amazing, as expected. I had no reason to spend money – all the entertainment was included, and we had all the food we needed in our room. This is the type of vacation where the adults can check their brains at the door and collect them later on their way out. It’s magical! The children were happy, the adults were relaxed. All was right in our worlds.

On our second day, I had a hankering for a coffee in the afternoon. I never drink coffee in the afternoon, but the pool had worn me out and I needed a pick-me-up. My friend had brought me a Starbucks in the morning, and she had said “Keep the cup! You can get a refill for $1.02 later!” I love a good deal, so I kept the cup. I didn’t anticipate using it again, but as it turned out, it came in handy.

I went to the Starbucks in the lobby of the Great Wolf Lodge. I asked for a refill for my cup. The ladies there were friendly and accommodating, and the experience was an absolute pleasure. I paid for my coffee and walked away satisfied.

The next day, my daughter wanted to buy a souvenir from the gift shop for her Dad. No problem! All she wanted was a shot glass – $6.99. Perfect. As we walked up to the till to pay, I took out my wallet. Because I have worked in retail for many years, I am super anal about being prepared when you get to the till – have your money out, be ready to pay, don’t hold up the line while you fumble with your purse. I had already planned it in my head – I won’t have to break my other $20 or my $10 because I should have a $5 and four $1’s. I had paid for my coffee with one of the $20 bills and a quarter, which means they gave me $19 back. Cool.

My jaw dropped. Aside from my $20 bill, I only had four $1 bills in my wallet. I triple checked it. Nope, that’s all I had. I scanned my brain – had I bought something ELSE during our stay?? I hadn’t gone into the arcade, hadn’t bought food, hadn’t bought ice cream… I hadn’t even taken my wallet out since we got there, except to buy that coffee! Where did my money go?!

I found my friend in the lobby and asked her to make sure – had I bought anything since we got here? No, she assured me I had not. We both lowered our eyes and thought reeeeeeeally hard. Nope! We could not come up with any other possible explanation, except that when I bought the Starbucks coffee, they must’ve mistaken my $20 bill for a $5 bill, and given me $4 change instead of $19 change. We even tut-tutted about how these things must happen all the time because all their US bills look the same.

As I said, I’ve worked in retail for eons so I know that they would have a record of that evenings cash-out. If their till had been over by exactly $15, then that would prove that I am right. I headed straight back to Starbucks. It’s now 9am so there’s a different crew working. I tell them my story, and ask if they can check last night’s cash-out to see if it was over. They are understanding, and without hesitation they go to check their records.

It will take a few minutes, so I go back into the lobby and wait with my friend. While I wait, I am still going over my every move – if not HERE, then WHERE??? And maybe it WAS at Starbucks, but they can’t prove it and I can’t prove it and oh well, I’ll just move past it and it’s no big deal. Just perplexing. *shrug*

A few minutes later (I waited 5-8 minutes, just to make sure they had time to look into it), I returned to the counter, fully expecting to be told “I’m so sorry, their cash was fine, there was no overage”, in which case I would’ve been fine but would’ve always wondered.

Instead, I am told that they’ve consulted with their bosses, and they’ve been told to reimburse my money because they believe my story. I am incredulous and grateful. Wow, that’s amazing! They really bent over backwards for me and I was so relieved – I wanted to give that money back to my friend at the end of our trip.

The story doesn’t end here. Keep reading…

With about 30 minutes’ driving left until we hit the US/Canada border, my friend says to me out of the blue “but didn’t you pay for the beer and milk?” I turned to her wide-eyed and said “OH. MY. GAAAAAAAAAWD!!!” Just before we got to Great Wolf Lodge we had stopped at a gas station specifically to buy milk and beer – we didn’t want to buy it earlier and have it get warm while we drove! The ensuing rant went something like “shit. Shitshitshitshitshit.” and “I’m a complete idiot!” and “how could I forget about that?! I SO ENJOYED that beer!!!” and “I’m so embarrassed!!” etc, etc, etc.

Had I not left my brain at the check-in counter, I would’ve figured out that there’s NO WAY I could’ve had an American quarter in my wallet if I hadn’t already broken a $20! Smh. It took us three hours’ distance from Great Wolf Lodge before our brains finally kicked back in, and I realized (to my horror!) my mistake.

So… Starbucks… where can I mail that $15 USD to??