For many years I traveled for work. It started in the 1995 when I went to work for Loft Seed, a grass seed company in New Jersey.
I lived in Monrovia Maryland with Becky and the 4 girls, Jessie, Rachel, Megan and Lauren. Most of the time I worked from home however; Lofts also had me working at their branch offices in Bound Brook New Jersey, Boston, Pennsylvania, Atlanta Georgia, Wilmington Ohio, Albany Oregon as well as Laurel Maryland. This made for a butt load of traveling.
Every other week I worked at the corporate offices in Bound Brook. For these trips I drove my 1992 Dodge Colt (lovingly referred to as the Smurf Mobile) from Maryland to Bound Brook NJ. The drive was 210 miles and about 4 hours up Rt. 95 to the New Jersey turnpike. I paid for that car with the business mileage.
It was a very easy drive. The New Jersey turnpike is a toll road. $10.50 round trip.
Side Story – Every time I made the ride to New Jersey I collected nickels in one of my cup holders. One trip I forgot to get cash and had to pay the $1.10 toll with nickels. As I drove up to the toll booth I counted out 22 nickels and put them in my shirt pocket. When I reached the booth, I scooped out the nickels and handed them over to the toll booth operator. He looked at me with the most amazed look and asked me if I was seriously paying the toll with nickels. He yelled over at the guy in the next booth, “Hey this fool is paying me with nickels.” I got just a little bit mouthy with him and reminded him that nickels are legal tender and that I would have paid with pennies if I had the time to count them out. The toll booth operator snarled at me and said to be quiet – “I have to take your nickels, but don’t have to listen to your crap”.
On another trip to New Jersey I saw this same guy. He remembered me and asked me if I was going to pay with nickels again. Again, I fulfilled my credo – Everyone remembers Teddy Burriss.
Back to the original story – On my trips to Bound Brook I stayed at the same hotel. It was a Ramada Somerset, outside of Bound Brook. I spent so many nights there that eventually the general manager assigned me to one room and told me to hang onto the hotel key. He said he would bill me weekly, unless I called him and told him that I was not coming up that week. From that day on, I just walked into the hotel and straight to my room. No check in, no check out. It was the beginning of other really easy travel arrangements.
Side Story – Monthly they gave away a brief case at this hotel. Each time I walked by the checkout counter I threw my business card into the brief case. At the end of the month I always had the most business cards in the case. Over about an 18 month period of time the general manager gave me 2 briefcases. And all of my business cards.
Back to the original story again – You can imagine that traveling around the country and living in hotels I spent a lot of time at restaurants. I also piled up a boat load of Frequent Flier miles and American Express points. Maybe I’ll tell you more about this later.
On one particular night I went to a small bar and grill outside of Bound Brook. On nights when I ate by myself (most nights), I ate dinner either at the bar or at a bar table. This night was the same. I ordered a meal similar to most any other travel night. Some kind of beef, a baked potato, a salad and a beer (or two). I never rushed when I ate dinner and on some occasions I started up a conversation with the bar guests near me. Usually just current event or sports banter, never much more than that.
After finishing my dinner I asked the bar maid for my bill. She brought it to me and after my usual quick review, I gave her my American Express card. She left to run the card.
In about 10 minutes I called to her and asked what the problem was. She told me that they lost my credit card. She assured me that they would find it soon. I assured her that I was patient and was not worried. I asked her to bring me another beer and a round of drinks for the couple that I was sitting next to while I waited. She obliged.
Another 15 minutes went by and I called to the manager for assistance. He said that they were still looking for my card. I again offered that I would continue being patient. I asked for another round of drinks for me and the couple that I had begun to talk to even more. He obliged just as the bar maid had before.
In another 20 minutes, I began to lose patience. I called for the manager and told him that I had to leave. He said he understood, apologized for losing my credit card and then asked me if I had another card to pay my bill.
I politely chuckled and told him that I did not have another card. I told him that he had my American Express and that this was the only means I had to pay the bill. I explained to him that without this card I would have problems for the rest of my trip paying for my hotel, rental car, airlines and meals. He said he understood and told me that if they found the card that he would arrange to get it to me and that he would settle my bill against the card.
I again chuckled and told him that if I left the hotel without my credit card that I would have to call Amex and cancel the card. I asked him if he would leave his card behind without doing the same. He said he understood.
I left the restaurant thanking him for his help. When I got into my car, I immediately called American Express, cancelled the card and arranged to get a new one delivered to my office before 10am the next day. This is why I love AmEx.
The next morning @ 10am my card showed up. At 10:15 the restaurant called me to say they found my card and wanted to know if I could come in and settle the bill. I told them that I was already out of the state and could not do that. I told them that the next time I came to the restaurant that I would settle up the bill.
There are dozens of great restaurants in the Bound Brook area. I never got back to that restaurant. I would recommend it to anyone traveling to Bound Brook, but I can’t remember the name. Only went there once. Either way, be careful with your credit cards in Bound Brook.
This is yet another story from Teddy Burriss – maybe, just maybe you will laugh with me.