Coping with Problems on a Night Out
We all know about the perils of binge-drinking, walking down dark alleys alone and getting into dodgy minicabs, but some emergencies come upon us without warning during a night on the tiles. Don't panic, though - just like the above list, a bit of foresight and calm, decisive action will ensure your night's not ruined beyond repair.
Scenario: Your Wallet's Been Stolen
Solution: It's easy for people to dip into bags or coat pockets if you leave them unattended. Minimise the risk by not keeping your valuables in your coat and using a bag with a zip - it'll take longer to open and give you time to spot them.
Never carry more cash than you're likely to need. For stolen debit or credit cards, ring your issuing bank and get them stopped immediately - not the next morning. Programme the lost cards hotline number (found on the back of your card above the magnetic stripe) into your mobile so you'll always have it with you.
Consider getting personal contents insurance added to your home insurance policy. This will cover goods you carry on you, including mobile phones, gadgets such as iPods and, often, a certain amount of cash.
If the theft leaves you with no cash to get home, see if you can get to the nearest police station. They're unlikely to be able to trace the thief immediately, but they will be able to give you a sum to cover your trip home on public transport.
Scenario: Your Friend gets Extremely Drunk
Solution: The first thing to do is to stop them drinking any more. A quiet word with the bar staff can help here - it's a legal offence to serve somebody who is drunk, so they'll be happy to comply. Grab a couple of pints of water from the bar and encourage them to take small sips.
If they look like they're going to be sick, try to make sure it's outside in the gutter or into a toilet. Of course, accidents do happen, but tell the bar staff straight away - they'll appreciate the tip-off a lot more than discovering the vomit when they step in it while collecting glasses.
Once you've steadied your friend up enough to walk, get them outside for some fresh air. Take a trip down the nearest quiet street or round a square, where car fumes, discarded food and shouting won't bother them, before returning inside.
Scenario: The Heel of Your Shoe Breaks Off
Solution: Ensure you buy decent shoes to start off with, as cheaper stilettos tend to be made of less sturdy stuff. If you do break a heel, don't go barefoot - you're likely to step on cigarette ends, broken glass and spilled drink inside, while dark pavements can hide a variety of sharp, unpleasant or downright dangerous objects.
Lessen the risk by avoiding awkward surfaces such as cobblestones, as walking on these puts extra stress on your shoes. A cunning trick is to stash a pair of sparkly flip-flops in your bag, which will not only look great worn in a club, but can also be donned if you or any of your friends' feet get tired in your high heels.
Scenario: You Lose a Coat/Bag
Solution: Be security-conscious by checking coats and bags into cloakrooms at clubs wherever possible - it might be expensive and mean queuing for a few minutes, but it's usually cheaper than buying a new coat.
When something does go astray, don't panic - if you've been in a pub or club, it's far more likely that someone's picked them up and handed them to the bar staff than that they've been stolen. Retrace your steps and ask at the bar and in the cloakrooms to see if anything's been put aside, giving as detailed a description as you can.
It's worth ringing the next day to ask whether anything's been found. Bar staff are often willing to take your phone number and call you if a likely item turns up, so don't forget to pass on your name and number when you make your enquiries.
Scenario: You Run Out of Cash for the Taxi
Solution: All may not be lost, as many cab firms now ensure their vehicles are fitted with credit card machines. Another solution is to prepare in advance - when you go to the ATM at the beginning of the night, take out an extra note and stash it in a separate compartment of your wallet, so you don't accidentally spend it on a round of drinks.
When waiting in a queue, try asking other people which way they're going - you may be able to split the cost of a cab with others, which makes it cheaper for all concerned and reduces the size of the taxi queue more quickly.
You can also often ask the taxi driver to take you home via a cash point, although it will probably cost you a bit extra while the driver waits, but at least you can get home!
If you're really stuck, ring a friend and ask if they can pay your fare at the other end. Do it before hailing a taxi, though - you don't want to end up hammering on someone's door in the small hours while the cabbie lets the meter run.