Dear Annie: I am one of a group of guys who have been friends and card players for over 30 years. For the past three decades, I have witnessed one of our players, "Charlie," cheat every time we play, but I've said nothing. When it's his time to deal, he shuffles the cards, looks at them and positions them to his liking so that he will deal what he wants to himself. I notice this every time, but no one else does. We are all very good friends, and I don't want to make a scene, so I say nothing and keep it to myself, burning inside. If I did bring it up in front of everyone, it could bring an end to our game circle. Plus, I know that Charlie would absolutely deny it, and I would look like a fool. This cheating pays off for him, because he wins about 80 to 90 percent of the time. How can I handle this without destroying our long-standing card game? — Sleight of Hand Observer
Dear Observer: If you've managed to keep your feelings on this matter to yourself for 30 years, you must have a phenomenal poker face. It's well past time to flush Charlie's dirty tactics out into the open.
The best way to go about this is to talk to one of the other players and ask whether he's noticed anything unusual about the way Charlie deals. After 30 years of playing with this guy, I have a feeling he'll know what you're referring to. But if not, tell him to keep an eye out the next time the group gets together. Once you've got a witness corroborating your claim, go to the others in your group (minus Charlie) and lay it all on the table. Whoever is closest to Charlie should sit him down privately and let him know the group is wise to his maneuvers. He may still deny it, but he'll be hard-pressed to try it again knowing all eyes are on him.
Dear Annie: Recently, my husband and I made plans to go on a cruise along with three other couples. It was up to each couple to make their own travel plans for getting to the port. My husband and I didn't want to drive into the major city from which the cruise is departing, so we decided we would drive to a nearby town from which a shuttle to the cruise is offered. The shuttle ride takes a couple of hours, but we felt it would be worth avoiding the hassle and cost of parking in the city.
One of the other couples, "Tom" and "Judy," whom we don't know very well, ended up wanting to ride with us. This would have been fine if they just wanted to ride along with us to our original destination. But they expected us to drive them right to the cruise ship! When I told them what our plans were, they kept asking whether it would be too late to change our plans and drive straight to the port instead. When I stood firm, they begrudgingly said they'd ride with our other friends. (They didn't want to ride with them at first because Tom and Judy are both smokers and won't be allowed to smoke in their car. My husband and I aren't smokers but would have let them smoke.)
I think that their asking us to change our plans to accommodate them was really unreasonable. What do you think? — Confused Cruiser
Dear Confused: I think these two must have started in on the mai tais a little early. You are their acquaintances, not their chauffeurs, and I'm glad you didn't change your plans to suit them.
But when it comes time to shove off, I suggest that you leave the negative baggage at the dock and give this couple another chance. It will make for smoother sailing and a better overall vacation. Bon voyage.
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