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8 Businesses That Save the Day When You Can't

by Kate Sedgwick Mar 3, 2011
If you’re a regular reader of Matador Nights, the probability that you’ve been known to have a few too many is a little higher than average. Your priorities are just where you want them, but sometimes you forget stuff.
If you’re the kind of person who forgets important birthdays or anniversaries or waits until the last minute to turn in papers, if you’ve ever lost track of your car after a night on the town, you might find some ideas here to save the day next time.
1. Last Minute Gifts

If you’re in the US or Canada and regularly forget birthdays and anniversaries, there’s a service just for you called

You can set up a contract for important dates for flower delivery and be thoughtful just once instead of being reminded it’s your girlfriend’s birthday only when her friends start wishing her a good one on facebook.

If that’s not your style (or budget), and you’re out of time, there are a couple ready options. You can send flowers or fruit through 1-800-FLOWERS, for one. Personally, I tried to have some flowers sent to my mom for Mother’s Day one year, and her remote location made them impossible to deliver, but if your recipient lives in a metropolitan area in the US and you have a valid credit card, this is one idea.

If you remember in the morning, there are some cities and products you can buy with same day delivery through Amazon in the US.

If these options are too generic or chancy for you, get creative. Small, independent businesses sometimes have the time and flexibility to give you a little extra help. Once from Buenos Aires, I was able to help put a care package together for a sick friend in Louisville, KY using an independent bookstore’s extensive online catalogue, calling by skype and paying by credit card.

Even if you’re an expat who forgot your dad’s birthday, you might be able to get creative and call his favorite indy restaurant or coffee shop to hook him up with a surprise month’s worth of coffee or dinner on you. If you’re in the same town, these options are even more accessible.

2. Traffic Jam Rescue

According to France24, drivers in Wuhan and Jinan in China can call for emergency drivers to sit in traffic for them. The replacement driver arrives on the back of a motorcycle and switches places with the car owner. Bypassing traffic, the motorcyclist takes the client to work or any other urgent destination. The cost runs about US$60.

Too bad the cops in LA are so focused on infractions, or this could happen there, too. Someone enterprising and willing to risk the ticket could start this service there and make a mint.

3. Get Your Car and Yourself Home From the Bar Without a DUI

Back in my hometown of Louisville, KY, I remember hearing about City Scoot for the first time and thinking the idea was genius. You call them if you’re too drunk to drive home and someone comes to meet you, throws a fold-up scooter in your back seat or trunk to take off afterwards, and drives you home in your own car.

These businesses are popping up all over the US, though City Scoot says they’re the first fully insured service of this kind in the US. has a list of similar services in 37 states across the US. There are also similar businesses in Melbourne and London.

In Japan, they’re called Daiko drivers and operate in two-man teams with another car.

4. Recover Your Data and Maybe Even Your Computer

If it’s your worst case scenario that the data on your computer should ever disappear, it’s probably a good idea to start backing everything up now. Especially if you have a tendency to invite strangers home from the bar or have ever left a cigarette (or something else) burning as you pass out. Back that mac (or PC) up!

There are lots of off-site back-up services these days — the best solution in case of theft or fire where an on-site back-up could easily be wiped out, too. One source is Carbonite where services cost about $55 a year. offers remote log-in free and a similar service for about $40 a year.

If it’s too late for that, you may still be able to recover data. One service lists data recovery services running from anywhere between $200 to upwards of $1,000. Even in the event of fire or flood, you can use Drive Savers, though it’s going to cost you.

If it’s theft you’re worried about, reviews are mixed on LoJack for laptops. Amazon customer reviews complain that the service is a bit shady, locking you out of your account once your computer has been stolen, preventing you from seeing online whether your computer has pinged the system to cash in on the $1,000 60-day guarantee. About $40 a year gets you basic service.

5. “Get Help” With Your School Paper

Too much partying can get you behind in your classwork, but if you anticipate your debauchery, you may be able to get someone to do your research for you and maybe get even more help than that. If you’re a victim of #4, you may even have a legitimate reason for needing “help” with your school work.

Sparrow Papers seems to offer only assistance in your research along with editing and proofreading services, but dig a little deeper in their website and you can find little gems like these:

“We realize that you work hard for your money and that other people should not benefit from original work that was created at your expense.”

Make of that what you will, but it seems to me that’s a promise for a little more than research.

We all know how expensive a Master’s degree is. Depending how desperate you are not to flush $100,000 plus down the toilet, you could have someone write your entire dissertation. Though this site looks a little too sexy to be reputable, you’re the one who didn’t write your dissertation, so maybe you can’t afford to judge right now.

6. Same Day Cleaning Service

When my boyfriend went to Europe, I let the apartment get completely out of control — dirty dishes, dirty laundry, cat hair all over. The clean-up job I procrastinated on made whipping the house into shape in one day a huge job. If we had a bigger apartment, it would have been impossible.

Whether you had a party you’re too hung over to clean up after or the kids dumped the contents of the canisters out all over the floor, you can almost always find someone willing to come and clean at short notice by searching “house cleaning + same day + (insert your town here).”

Tidy Maid in Mississauga, Ontario, for example, charges by the square foot, not the level of filth, and offers same-day services. Almost any town will have a cleaning service able to send someone at a moment’s notice. Just hide your computer first before dealing with an unknown company in your home or see #4.

7. Stolen Car Recovery

My security system always involved leaving the doors of my car unlocked since replacing windows would have been more costly than anything anyone could possibly have stolen, and a thief would have to be desperate or crazy to have stolen the piece of crap. If you’ve sunk a bunch of money into yours, though, you might want to invest in some insurance besides your insurance.

LoJack promises to recover your car if it’s stolen — something they guarantee within 24 hours. Services are available all over the world: some countries in Africa, some in Europe, some in South America, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Russia. According to the site, LoJack only works with law enforcement in those countries where they offer services, so if thieves take your car in Peru and skip to Bolivia, you could have a problem. Prices start at around US$700.

They’re not the only game in the world, though. In the US, MobileIQ allows you to track your own car through a computer and even receive warnings if another driver is speeding in your car (your kid, for example). You can buy and install the system for about US$600, but after a year, you have to pay about $50 a year to keep the service.

Finally, there’s Zoombak. Starting at $150 for the device itself, you can put this small GPS locator anywhere yourself (including your car or your preschooler’s jacket) and pay a US $10 monthly fee for the service. This can also operate as a spying device if you don’t trust your spouse or something. You get unlimited connections to track the little thing, which could be used in conjunction with law enforcement to get your car back.

8. Same Day Catering

It’s the stuff of nightmares. You wake up and remember you were the one responsible for planning the company lunch or your sister’s baby shower. Don’t give up. You can fix this. If you google your town with “same day catering” you could come up with something fast.

Boston Market is an option for 28 US states offering short-notice banquet service for US$22 a person. A search in Kansas City comes up with Grandma’s Catering which offers up to 100 hot meals same day if you call by 8:30AM.

And if that doesn’t work, don’t assume everyone will be eating pizza. Call a couple of your favorite restaurants and see if they can put together a large order on the fly. You’ll be better off if you think of foods that are still good at or around room temperature: deli sandwiches, sushi, antipasto, and pasta salads.

Community Connection

For more last-minute inspiration, check out 10 Last Minute Gifts for Your Favorite Traveler.

And if your “forgetting problem” has more to do with something other than alcohol, Matador Nights is still looking for a marijuana ambassador. Can you handle it?

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