`I reserved a $2,000 rental car for our group trip, but nobody reimbursed me for my portion of the cost—they couldn’t get away with it.

A weekend excursion filled with excitement gave way to frustration when Sarah’s pals avoided paying their portion of the $2,000 cabin rental. They had no idea that she had a strategy to make sure they were caught.

Our friend group organizes a weekend trip for the girls each year. It’s our rotation to organize, and this year it was my turn! I was thrilled to discover the ideal location—a quaint home perched directly on a glistening lake.

When I sent the photos, we all let out happy squeals.

The location appeared as though it was taken from a magazine. It had a hot tub, gorgeous views of the lake, and a nice cabin with a fireplace.

For our group of eight, the three-night stay came at a total cost of $2,000, which worked out to a fairly reasonable $250 per person.

“Since I went ahead and booked the cabin, I was happy to cover the upfront cost,” I advised my companions. “However, I would really appreciate it if you could all reimburse me before the trip leaves. Does everyone find that to be effective?

“Sounds perfect, Sarah!” First to comment was Mary. “Thanks for taking care of that.”

Ella repeated, “Absolutely, no problem at all.”

Brittany said, “Great, that works for me too!”

Everyone else at the table agreed, one by one.

“Yep, sounds good,” As the confirmations came in, “No worries, I can do that,” they said. Everyone appeared content to take care of their fair part, and they assured me they would pay me in advance of the trip.

Simple as pie, huh?


The simple and straightforward became extremely frustrating as the journey drew near.

Mary was the first to do so. “Hey Sarah,” she called out, “I might be a little late with my payment because my car needs new brakes.” Next week, I’ll deliver it to you.”

It was Brittany’s turn a week later. “It’s killing me, my student loans this month. Can I wait until my next paycheck?”

Melissa said to me, “I just need to wait until my next paycheck.”

I reminded them to repay me for several weeks, but they kept coming up with new justifications.

Every justification was distinct and did not overlap. They appeared to be participating in this together.

Next, there was a radio quiet. Nothing at all. Not a single text, phone, or message from Dana, Ella, or even dependable old Lisa.

I had spent $2,000 by the week before the vacation and was totally spent.

Indirectly, the people I referred to as “friends” had declined to reimburse me. Those I trusted most had all of a sudden decided to turn against me.

For what reason were they acting in this way?

Had I made a mistake? Or was this an attempt to gauge my response to such a risky circumstance? I’m not sure what it was, but it was very enraged me.

I was aware that I needed to take a firm action to let them know I wasn’t a doormat.

I therefore concluded that it was time to impart to them a lesson they would never forget. I don’t usually like confrontation, but this was absurd.

I inhaled deeply and grabbed my phone the night before the trip to carry out the first part of my plan.

I was all fanned out with pretend excitement as I texted the gang. I’m excited to see everyone at the cabin tomorrow! It’s going to be the ideal weekend escape!”

They had no idea that I was cooking up anything cunning.

I woke up really early the following morning and got out of bed. Getting dressed quickly, I hurried out the door, excited to turn the cottage into our own private sanctuary.

I wheeled my trolley through the aisles of the grocery shop.

I stuffed it full of fresh fruit, cheese, and enough snacks to feed an army, and a delighted smile came on my face.

I even received the nicest assortment of juices and wines. I wanted to make sure my pals were taken care of and nourished properly.

I paid for the drinks and food, got back in my car, and headed in the direction of the cabin. In person, the sunshine glimmering off the lake like a million diamonds made it even more breathtaking.

I put everything I had purchased in the refrigerator.

I even prepared a bonfire with marshmallows and warm blankets for that evening.

The location appeared flawless. I was certain that my buddies would have an incredible time here.

The catch is that when I departed on a “errand,” I took the garage door opener and the keys with me.

I texted all of my pals before I locked the cabin, telling them I had an essential task to complete and would be back by when they got there. Like I did when I asked them to repay me, they trusted me.

But I, too, betrayed my trust in them.

They had to play by my rules if they wanted to enjoy themselves in the cabin. Their weekend escape had to be earned.

Seeing as how all they did was disregard my calls and texts, I wasn’t going to let them enjoy themselves.

My phone started exploding up by lunchtime. My buddies began to phone and text me frantically.

“Hey, Sarah, we’re here at the cabin, but the doors are locked!” said Ella.

“Did you forget something?” Mary enquired.

With a composed response, I said, “Oh no! I apologize, gentlemen. The keys must have been left at home. The good thing is that I’m currently headed back.”

Was I heading home? Not at all!

I was enjoying my favorite iced cappuccino at a neighboring cafe. As each of them arrived to the cabin one after the other, I liked reading their texts.

Their texts stopped coming in after I sent the last one. Though the reality was very different, they were relieved that I was returning.

Their momentary reprieve soon passed, and they resumed texting and calling me. Their messages were far more urgent this time. While some of my pals were fuming, others were having difficulty controlling their emotions.

“How can you be so forgetful, Sarah?” Asking Lisa.

“I can’t believe you’re making us all wait like this!” stated Dana. “I thought this was supposed to be a fun trip.”

It was now time for me to drop the bomb.

I sent out the following message: “Look, I’m happy to come back and let you all in, but only once everyone has sent over their share of the rental cost.”


And then a whirlwind of action.

It seems like the promise of an opulent weekend escape abruptly outweighed vehicle issues, student debt, and every other justification they had concocted.

As money began to come in, my phone began to ring with notifications from PayPal, Zelle, and Venmo.

Every money was accounted for in less than an hour.

“You guys could have done this before!” I told myself as I picked up the keys and made my way back to the cabin.

The moment they spotted my automobile in the parking lot, their eyes brightened. While some of them headed for the door, others began to move in the direction of my automobile.

“I hope I made it on time!” With the key in my hands, I chirped as I got out of my car.

When I opened the door, some of them whispered an apology, while others gave sheepish smiles.

To be honest, at first, the awkwardness was a bit much.

It wasn’t exactly the carefree getaway I’d imagined for the remainder of the weekend. The normal lighthearted banter felt a bit forced, and the initial tension persisted.

The problem is that they did understand at last. When people broke their word, there were repercussions.

Even so, we had a good time kayaking on the lake, roasting marshmallows under the sky, and engaging in the typical gossip sessions.

But the journey was distinct in that it was characterized by a renewed sense of respect.

Some of the anxiety had dissipated by the end of the tour.

Mary, always the impetuous one, gave me a bear embrace. “Sarah, I really apologize for the automobile incident. You have every right to be angry.”

Brittany added, “Yeah, I agree. Friendships cannot wait, but those loans can.”

A couple others really apologized, which I found admirable. In retrospect, the entire experience was a little stressful, but it also helped our friendships become more clear.

I discovered that, on occasion, you had to be a little rough in order to stand up for yourself. They also discovered that respect is reciprocal.

Even if we might not be organizing any opulent cabin vacations anytime soon, at least we will do so with a fresh perspective and sense of accountability.

Even though it wasn’t quite the leisurely weekend I had anticipated, the entire experience made for an unforgettable tale.

But, as they say, sometimes the greatest lessons are wrapped up with a lot of resolve and a little irritation.

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