Cash Poor

August 26, 2013

Essays for Giggles


My husband and I never have any cash.  I mean NEVER.  It is ridiculous.  We have money in the bank but no ATM card so that money is pretty useless to us on a Sunday.

Why don’t we have ATM cards?  I mean, they’re free and good for emergencies.  Well, I have no idea to tell you the truth.  We just never have.

We have access to enough credit on our credit cards to purchase a small village, so we can charge whatever we want, but we would never take out a cash advance on a credit card unless it were a life threatening emergency.  We’re not going to get stuck paying those fees.

Usually only having credit cards works out just fine, but there was one time that I was particularly annoyed at our penchant for travelling penniless: We were in St. Augustine, FL and our daughter, who was five at the time, was unable to ride the little carousel in the park because we did not have two dollars!  We had credit cards.  We paid for our hotel and dinner and anything my daughter wanted from a shop that took credit, but we could not give her that carousel ride and she LOVED carousels.

I made my husband promise me then and there that we would never travel without cash again.  That has worked pretty well.  Until this weekend.

We were taking our last summer beach trip to Pensacola Beach.  There is a toll bridge that requires $1 to get to the island.  I know this.  I made a specific point of going to the bank on Friday and writing a check for cash like my grandmother used to do.  You can’t say I’m not hip with the times.

I specifically got ones so that I would have exact change for the toll bridge.  I was so proud of myself.  I had ten whole dollars:  a five and five ones.

Then I left my purse at home.

A hundred miles down the road, my husband says, “do we have any cash?”  Well, damn it, we did.  I ask my daughter in the back seat – she’s now eight – if she has any cash.  She didn’t and I’m ashamed that I had to ask her.

So I start digging around in the car… console, glove box, that little compartment that used to have an ashtray in it back when people actually smoked cigarettes in their car.  I found 82 cents.  Might as well have been a penny.  It wasn’t a dollar.  I was .18 short.

Now, we could still get to the beach, we were just going to have to go thirty miles out of our way and cross at the non-toll bridge at Navarre.    I was determined not to waste any additional time on our quick overnight trip while my daughter asked every five minutes, “are we there yet?”

So at our first bathroom stop at a convenience store, I walked around looking for dropped change.  Score!  Before I got in the door, I found a penny lying right there on the sidewalk.  This was like taking candy from a baby.  Now I only needed .17!

After using the potty, and scanning the store carefully, I went back outside and checked out the sidewalk.  Score!  Near the cage that holds gas tanks, I found another penny on the ground!  Only .16 to go!

My husband and daughter are back in the car at this point with their heads down pretending they don’t know me.

I go wandering around the gas pumps thinking maybe when people were digging in their pockets for their wallet a spare coin or two might have escaped.  Boo Yah!  A DIME!  I found a dime!  Just lying right there by a pump saying, “pick me up!”

One quick foray into the wilderness and I am now only 6 cents short on toll bridge money.  I could do this!

I forced my husband, against his will, to drive across the street to another gas station.  I scoured the parking lot for a few minutes.  It was reported to me that when I got out of the car, my daughter said, “Even though momma is acting like a hobo, we still have to love her.”

That place was a bust.  Even the big diesel pumps out where the truckers go was a barren wasteland devoid of cash.  What I would have given for a soda machine or an old fashioned pay phone right about then.  Jiggling the coin return on either of those machines would have most likely solved my problem.

A few miles down the road, we try another convenience store.  I scour the ground on the way in, take a quick look around the store and as I give up and head back to the car, I see it.  Beneath the ice-cream case that sat by the door, three inches back, stuck in the hairy filth on the floor was one shiny silver dime.  I scrambled to get it before anyone else did (no one else saw it or was trying), snatched it from the grime and hugged it to my chest like I had found a gold nugget.

Score!  We now had four more cents than we needed!  I could pay the toll bridge with money left over!

An hour later, as we approach the bridge, it was pouring rain, so we did a U-turn and went 30 miles to Fort Walton where the sun was shining and spent the day on the beach there.  They don’t have a toll bridge.  We travelled back by the free bridge in Navarre so after I had abandoned what little dignity I still possessed searching sewer gutters for 18 cents, we never crossed the damn toll bridge at all!

The good news is that I came home with $1.04!

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About reneadijab

Renea Dijab

View all posts by reneadijab


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