Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The taped dollar

Sunday night while coming back from the hair place, I stopped at Foodsmart on Armitage, between California and Sacramento. Rain mixed with sleet had been falling all day, so I hoped to get a bag of sidewalk salt before it turned to snow (which it did later in the evening). Sure enough there was a stack of heavy, yellow salt bags right next to the newspapers up front. Lacking cash, I took $40 out of the ATM. I then brought the bag to the counter and set it down.

There was a middle-aged woman behind the register, and she was very slowly and methodically taping together a one-dollar bill down the middle with clear scotch tape. She did not look up and did not hurry herself to finish this job. If we had been in a small town, the woman most likely would've apologized, put the dollar down and rung me up. Not so in the City of Big Shoulders. I really took no offense; I was in no hurry. I paid for my bag of salt (five dollars and change) with one of the twenties from the ATM. She broke it and gave me back the difference.

This morning I looked in my wallet for a dollar to feed into the Coke machine, and I found the scotch-taped bill. Apparently I was in more of a hurry on Sunday night than I thought because I failed to notice that the woman gave it to me as part of my change. I don't know if any Coke machine will accept this dollar, and I'm even wary a convenient store like Foodsmart would refuse it. I guess you could say I got screwed twice: having to wait and getting back damaged currency. For a retail transaction, that's a impressive feat.

I console myself by saying that it's all a big give and take. … Though maybe there is no system. Or maybe you're always on the receiving end. Or maybe it's just Chicago. … Or maybe I should just forget it. … Yes, that's probably the way to go.

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