From the Times are Tough All Over file:

On Monday, November 17, 1995, so an impeccable source informs us, puffy millionaire Donald Trump and his lovely bride, Marla, dined in a well-known midtown restaurant. As the repast drew to a conclusion, Mr. Trump, seemingly in a bit of a hurry, motioned for his waitress to bring the check (I picture him doing that little "writing in the air" mime that we shabby groundlings use to signify that we're ready for our tab but, alas, I cannot confirm that this occurred).

He gave his server a Visa card, from Chemical Bank, and she processed it in the usual fashion. In this particular restaurant, it seems, all credit card transactions are handled electronically. The server enters the info into a modem's keyboard, it's processed somewhere down the information highway a piece and an approval code is assigned the transaction. At this point, the voucher is automatically printed and placed before the customer, awaiting his signature.

That's assuming the transaction is approved, of course. In the case of Mr. Trump, it seems that he's perhaps been a little short of cash of late. Or perhaps he's just absent-minded and neglected to pay his Visa bill. In any case, the server was faced with a big, fat "Decline" message on the electronic screen. "That can't be right!" she thought to herself, and she tried it again, this time entering the account number from the card manually, rather than just swiping it through as she'd done the first time. Again, her efforts were rewarded with a "Decline" message. A third try and a fourth yielded no better results so she was faced with telling Mr.-Atlantic- City- Millionaire- Trump-Castle- Trump-Tower- Lifestyles-of-the-Rich-and-Famous that his card was no good.

To his credit, the Donald was gracious in receiving the news. He promptly gave the server another card and this one (phew!) was approved. The gratuity he bestowed on the server was adequate, if not gaudy. I share this tale with you, dear readers, not in an attempt to embarrass Mr. Trump or his lovely wife, Marla. Not at all, consider it a gift, a little food for thought for the next time a bill of yours goes unpaid, whether it be due to a lack of cashflow or mere neglect. Hold your head up high, you are in fabled company!

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