The Irony of Spare Change

During the summers in high school and college, I worked at the local swimming pool. While lifeguarding was definitely much of the gig, we also had to man the guard shack, which included selling concessions. (Funyuns and Chico-Sticks and Super Rope, Oh my!)

One of our “favorite” things (And yes, Sheldon, I am being sarcastic here.) was when a little kid, all wet with pruny fingers, would come up to the counter, dump a mound of change, and ask, “What can I get for this many?”

Funny how life works, because today I was that little kid, minus the chlorine smell and sunburn.

It’s been a rough time at the Boogers and Burps house, money-wise. And if you haven’t already heard, next week is Christmas. So in order to pay those frivolous bills like our house and our heat AND not give anyone on our Christmas list the shaft, we’ve had to pretty much spend NO money this week.

But of course the boys don’t understand the concept of rationing food and have proceeded to eat their weight in bread, tortillas, and apples in the past few days. So I knew that it was slim pickin’s at best when it comes to lunches. Now I can subsist on black coffee and some dry cereal until suppertime, but I’m not sure my kids have acquired the taste for coffee quite yet.

Today Boy #2 had a dr. appointment, which ran long because we had to go across the street for an X-Ray afterward. Boy #3 went with us, and they were both extremely good considering all the waiting they did and the exam Boy #2 had to endure. By the time we got back into town it was nearly 1:00 and our stomachs were growling in unison.

Knowing I didn’t want to use my debit card to get something for lunch, I had an epiphany—the spare change jar! And Happy Meals are $1.89 on Wednesdays, so my plan was hatched.

I went through the drive-thru, which is always a bit embarrassing considering the motor in my automatic window has been out for two years. I’m getting pretty good at judging just how far I have to pull up and at what angle to successfully open my door at drive-thru restaurants and banks, but I still get looks of pity from workers, and Husband still refuses to be in the driver’s seat if we’re in my van and have to drive thru somewhere. Wimp.

I opened my door at the microphone and ordered our meals. Then I closed the door, drove around to the first window, and opened my door again as the McDonald’s employee said, “That will be $6.27.”

Did I mention that in all of my spare change I have maybe 6 quarters? Yeah, the rest: dimes, nickels, and pennies. So I handed the bewildered employee two huge handfuls of change as I mumbled my apologies and something about cleaning out our change jar. He just kind of stood there and stared at it all in his hands (Yes, it took both his hands to cradle all of my coins, and he wasn’t a small guy.), and I could tell he was unsure what to do. As he glanced at the line of cars behind me, I said meekly, “It should all be there.”

Dumping the silver and copper into the cash register, he finally said, “I’ll take your word for it.”

And as I drove away, two Happy Meals, one McDouble cheeseburger and small fry richer, I thought to myself: “So it’s come to this.”

Hey, I’m not quite as bad as those pool rats. At least I already had it counted out for the guy . . .

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