I have long been fascinated with the mindset of the mooch. I don’t mean someone who’s cheap, because there’s a difference. A cheapie doesn’t mind spending money, it just ain’t gonna be on you.

A few phrases you’ll never hear a skinflint utter; “My treat.” “Keep the change.” “This round’s on me.” And, “Put your card away, you’re killing me.”

If you’ve ever pulled out a calculator after dinner and said, “Your extra side of Ranch was seventy-five cents.” You’re cheap. But don’t feel bad, now you’ll know which box to check if you ever take a How much fun are you to hang out with? survey.

Besides, you don’t owe me anything and I’m sure that “Times is hard.” And, I most certainly have 2 quarters, a dime and 3 nickels to buy Ranch Dressing for which to dunk my fries.

A mooch, on the other hand, is a totally different beast. I find them both horrifying and fascinating.

Who are these people? These entitled scroungers who pay for nothing and feel no shame?

The drinker of free cocktails.

The borrower who doesn’t pay back.

“Can I catch a ride?” guy.

And, of course, the ne’er-do-well who’s never hungry, they “just came along for the company.” they say while scarfing down half a plate of your nachos and the majority of the artichoke dip.

I once gave a co-worker, who lost his driver license because of a DUI, a ride home every night for a year. Every night. He never once offered gas money.

One year.

Not one dollar.

Apparently, he thought it was no big deal because he only lived fifteen minutes that way. But, since I lived thirty minutes the other way, it kind of was. At least “fake” crack open your wallet, pal.

I probably wouldn’t have even accepted anyway because it was only fifteen minutes that way. But in the words of my grandmother, “It’s the thought that counts, motherfucker.

I bartended at a place where the cook’s wife would sit at my bar, while waiting for him to get off work, and drink wine. When the other bartender and I realized that she had no intention of ever paying or leaving a tip, we invented a game called ‘How long can we avoid eye contact before she freaks out?’

About fifteen minutes.

Then she’d chirp, “May I please get some wine, assholes?” (She didn’t actually call us assholes, her tone did.)

As her drink would start getting dangerously low she’d begin to panic, and when I was anywhere in her proximity she’d frantically stick her wine glass in my face like Oliver Twist’s empty porridge bowl.

Sometimes I call people on their stuff, sometimes I don’t. In these two cases I did not. Their insolence fascinated me. How long could they keep going? Would tonight be the night when even they could no longer stand their own freeloading selves?

Turns out, both were perfectly fine with it.

Now, unless they were parented by grifters or a pack of Hyenas, they knew better, it was just their preference not to do so.

I realize how lovely life would be if everyone else would foot the bill and we could just eat and drink and do whatever we wanted and never spend a dime. But, sadly, that’s not how it works.

So, I guess the moral of this story is… pay for half of the nachos, leave a tip, offer gas money. Because, not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the thought that counts, motherfucker.