When you get to my age you have to be constantly on the look-out for signs that you’re going ga-ga. Stuff like getting to the top of the stairs and then forgetting why it was you went up there; being unable to find your house/car keys; forgetting someone’s name as you’re introducing them to someone else at a party; suddenly discovering that you have walked across the road to your local store with your flies undone.
Yesterday I had a particularly significant (and potentially embarrassing) one which has overnight left me wondering whether it was simply a random twist of fate, or alternatively a definite sign that my brain is on the way out.
I had gone off into the Oxfordshire countryside to have lunch with my daughter on her 32nd birthday.
At the conclusion of our enjoyable meal and conversation, as she made to visit the Ladies, I simultaneously called for the bill. When she arrived back at our table, I then went to the gentleman’s equivalent.
Returning, I looked at the bill, saw that service had not included and – with the help of £2 from my daughter – left £7 as a tip for our waitress, pointing out that it was on the table to her as we departed the restaurant.
We had driven to the venue in convoy because we were going to be leaving in different directions. As we were making our fond farewells in the car park, our waitress suddenly appeared and said that there seemed to be some confusion and that perhaps we had been given the wrong bill. She invited us to go back inside in order to sort things out, which we duly did.
Initially I was quite convinced that I had ‘done the necessary’ with the bill and a card machine – not that I could quite describe the male waiter who had brought said item to me.
The manager appeared and took charge, politely explaining that, on their computerised cash machine system, there was no indication of our payment having been registered.
The possibility that I had not paid my bill suddenly dawned. I began to doubt whether I had. In the end I paid for it – either again, or alternatively for the first time. The manager offered that, in the event my credit card statement showed that I’d paid twice, they’d be happy to give a refund.
And that was that.
Only it wasn’t, of course.
Even before we’d returned to the car park, I was getting worried. Had I paid my bill twice, or had I not paid it the first time … in which case, presumably, the establishment’s staff might have assumed that my daughter and I were thieves and/or fraudsters who had arrived intent upon nothing more than having a very nice meal and then escaping without paying or it!
Had I paid for it or not? I’d certainly convinced myself, by the time I returned from the Gentleman’s toilet, that I had. That was when I first noticed that service had not been included.
However, I became increasingly aware that the possibility I had not paid the bill was the more likely explanation.
How worrying is that?
My daughter joked – which was true – that she’d been advising me to get myself checked out for dementia for at least the past three years now.
Maybe I should. Either I had just one of the worst ‘senior moments’ I had ever experienced, or I had paid and something was wrong with the restaurant’s computerised system.
Whichever it is, the episode gave me a huge shock.