Virginia Is For Loaners

Published 4:18 pm Thursday, October 6, 2011

My memory must be atrocious because I simply cannot recall people with whom I evidently share a deep and abiding friendship.

A strong enough bond that I am the one person in the world they are depending upon to provide them with cash to settle their hotel bills overseas.

Week after week I receive emails from individuals of whom I have absolutely no recollection, all of them traveling abroad and unable to keep track of their cash, mobile phones, or credit cards. But we must be good friends.

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How odd that I would form such deep friendships with people who share the common traits of nearly continuous overseas travel and an inability to successfully retain their most important possessions once they arrive in a foreign land.

This week I heard from Donny who “made a trip to Madrid” and has lost his money, phone, and credit cards.

“I've made contact with my bank,” he said, presumably begging coins to use a Spanish pay phone, “but they need more time to come up with a new one.”

Silly of me, I know, but I have no idea who Donny is, though we must be great friends for him to confide such an embarrassing story to me. He comes across as an idiot when contrasted with my own wisdom and discretion.

To lose cash or a mobile phone or a credit card could happen to anyone, of course.

But to lose everything-all of your cash, your phone and all of your credit cards-would seem to require dedication worthy of a statue or a mention on the floor of the House of Representatives.

And Donny lost them. He doesn't say they were stolen. He's just lost them, which is not terribly responsible of Donny, I must say. But at least he's honest about it.

It's good to have honest friends.

They must think me honest, as well, which is nice, and a good person to confide in and lean upon when fallen upon hard times.

All of my best friends seem to want to confess to me about their inability to keep up with their cash, mobile phones, and credit cards. I guess I'm a good listener and willing not to judge too harshly.

But of course I must forget everything rather quickly-like their names, faces, or existence on Earth-so they aren't risking too much by confiding in me. I simply won't remember the silly or stupid things they did.

It is odd that these friends of mine share the same tastes and unfortunate traits.

They all seem to have also chosen poorly when it comes to their bank because every time I receive an email from a best bud who has lost his or her cash, phone, and credit cards they all tell me their bank needs more time to come up with a new one.

Therefore, they explain, “I need you to lend me some money to sort myself out of this predicament, will pay back once I get this over with. Right now I need about $900 to settle my hotel bills.”

Nine hundred dollars is some mean cheddar but my memory, after all, is sponsored by the Swiss cheese manufacturers of Michigan's upper peninsula.

In return for my sending him $900, Donny gives me his “kind regards.”

His “kind regards” must be about the only thing Donny hasn't lost.

And he's got access to the Internet and email.

Donny's got a winning smile, as well, surely, and a sincere personality because the hotel is apparently allowing him to continue staying there despite his lack of cash or credit cards. There is no mention, I note with tremendous relief, of being forced out on to the streets of Madrid.

But with every day Donny must need me more and more, the duration of his stay at the hotel mounting in costly fashion.

All of my best friends, now that I think about it, must have winning smiles and sincere personalities-perhaps that's why I like them-because everyone who has asked me to pay their $900 hotel bill in Madrid or Paris or London hasn't mentioned being forced out on to the streets.

A soft-hearted world, in some places. And I shed a tear.

It would all be easier, of course, if my best friends had more domestic tastes in travel. Virginia is for lovers, after all, and we have the mountains over there, the sea in that direction, and good fun bits in between, fraught with historical, cultural and recreational distinction.

Why not travel here, instead?

Sometimes I wonder if our “Virginia Is For Lovers” state tourism slogan shouldn't be changed to something else.

Perhaps, “Virginia Is For Loaners.”

If you're going to lose all of your cash, mobile phones, and credit cards it is far better doing so much closer to home and those from whom you beg a loan.

Lose everything in Virginia's Heartland and you can drop on by my office, I can look at your face, refresh my memory and whip out the checkbook.

As it is, I fear I will forget Donny needs that $900 before I remember…

Hold on. I just had a thought. No. Couldn't be.

I feel so silly.

Don't tell me Donny is a scam artist and that many of you have received the same email.

Perhaps that's why Charlie, Sharon, and Binford never bothered saying “thank you” when I bailed them out of their hotels.

I can't wait to forget about that.