Few gifts are more stress inducing than the gift card with an expiry date. Because that gift card must be used in a certain amount of time or it loses all its value and just becomes a flat plastic non-gift card. Which is still useful for scraping soap scum off bathroom tiles, or cutting lines of coke on a mirror, but thats not really the gift that the gift giver originally intended, so its not an ideal outcome.
Twelve months ago my wife was given a Gold Class cinema gift card with a 12-month expiry date – a very thoughtful and generous birthday present that plunged us into into 11 months, three weeks and four and three-quarter days of expiry-date anxiety.
We kept forgetting about the gift card, reminding each other about the gift card, putting the gift card in eye-catching positions so wed notice it – on the hallway table, on the kitchen counter, taped to the car windscreen on the drivers side. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a fevered sweat, thinking, 'THE GIFT CARD! DID IT EXPIRE? DID WE MISS THE DATE?” But thankfully I could quickly check because Id started wearing it on a chain around my neck.
Last week we finally used the gift card: we went to see a movie we didnt want to see, on a night we didnt want to go, at a cinema we didnt want to use – just your typical movie-gift-card-expiry-date panic outing. Neither of us had been to Gold Class before, so it was actually quite interesting: the cinema was tiny, with huge La-Z-Boy-style reclining chairs – it was like wed been invited to a rich persons home theatre, but we were friends of friends, so no one talked to us. And you could pre-order meals to eat during the movie, so we used up all the money on the gift card, being careful not to go over, because if you pay extra, youre chipping in on your own gift. We were like kids in a lolly shop: “Can we get the $24 burger? How much left? OK, and the $22 pizza. How much left? OK, and $1.70 worth of edamame …”
The movie started and I wish I knew what it was about, but I was distracted. The first five minutes, I just played with my reclining chair, going up, down, up … dowwwwnn … ohhhhyeahhhh. The next six minutes, I was whispering to my wife: “Try the chair … push it back … no, all the way … amazing, right?”