Posts Tagged ‘money’

The symbiosis between her and the young girl behind the counter is almost complete, again. They know each other far too well now. She watches the young girl count out the money, she see’s the dollar bills neatly in the drawer and realizes why the plexiglass separates them. It would be so easy to reach in and take what she needs, she could run, she could start her car and be gone within seconds, she feels her blood begin to warm in her veins and she understands impulse and how quickly impulse can take over the actions of your body.

The young girl finishes counting out the money and places it in the tiny hole cut out of the plexiglass separating the two. She takes the money and counts it again, there at the window before she leaves. It’s become her routine. The young girl smiles at her through her over-processed hair that lies disheveled across her face. She wonders how she got here, this place in her life. She thinks about how the young girl has no worries, yet. How she doesn’t have kids and only dates occasionally, how she lives with her parents and is saving up for her first car. She knows all of these things because they chat like that. She talks to the young girl like they are sorority sisters planning ahead to the evenings events — that makes it easier. Small talk surrounding them to mask the real reason she was there. Her son wants to go out with his friends. Her dog is hungry. Her water bill is late. Her car is out of gas.

They say goodbye… again.

She walks to her car gripping the cash tightly in her hand, eyes down so no one see’s her. She jumps in her car, slams the door shut and locks it in one quick move. She always parks far enough away from the door of the business so no one would suspect she was in there… it was a small town, she was sure someone would become suspicious if they recognized her car out front. So, she parks closer to the nail salon. She can say she is just getting a manicure — no one would doubt her. No one knows the symbiosis between her and the young girl behind the plexiglass.

She holds tight to the money for a few seconds and feels her stress leave, briefly. She counts out the twenty-dollar bills until she reaches $200.00, then she stares at it again… there, in her hands. She then begins separating it onto the passenger seat. She can make it last for two weeks, she knows she can, she’s done it before. One hundred dollars for the grocery store — she’ll stick with the store brand items, instant potatoes, a bag of potatoes… potatoes are cheap, at least 5 meals from them she thinks. She’ll get the eggs that are on sale… 3 meals out of those. Chicken legs are cheap too… 4 meals out of those. She goes over her list there in the car and reminds herself she can do it — $100.00 in the grocery pile. She puts $40.00 in a different pile… gas for the car. $20.00 in a pile all to itself — money for her oldest son to go to the movies. He has no idea… $20.00 for the movies once in a while will keep it that way. The rest, $40.00, she hides in the console of her car — for emergencies. Two weeks, she can do this, she’s done it before.

She looks at all the piles and takes a deep breath — still unsure of how she got to this place in her journey. Off in the distance she hears the whistle of the train, picking up the lunch time crowd, whisking them away to downtown to enjoy lunches on terraces and mid-day margaritas on decorated patios. As quickly as she imagined the ease at which her impulses would allow her to reach into the young girls drawer of money, she imagined taking her piles of cash and hopping on the train to enjoy a cold drink at her favorite spot, people watching with her friends, laughing, hugging, telling stories. The whistle blew again as she started her car, pulling away from her innocent parking spot near the nail salon, aiming the car toward the grocery store because that’s where her life is taking her right now, the symbiosis is complete, again — her dog is hungry.

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I’ve been in between pay checks since May. That’s a long time to be in between paychecks. This seems to be one of the other things that isn’t really clear about divorce — you have to learn to live on your own… financially. Everything was working out well until the last week (that’s usually the case, right?). I found myself down to the bare essentials. Making sure I had pancakes for breakfast and chips for the lunch boxes, oh… and of course chocolate milk. I remembered a money jar I had in my closet and decided I would cash it in — this would be the financial bridge I needed for the last remaining days of my own personal economic crunch.

I cashed in the jar and was amazed that it held $79.98 — amazed! My semi-stressed mood soared like I had just opened the door to the “Prize Patrol”. I clutched my winnings tight to my chest and headed straight for the gas station. My oversized-4-wheel-drive-gas-guzzling car had been screaming for a small drink of petrol all morning. I proudly walked inside and handed a crisp $20 bill to the attendant. Then proceeded to head back out to pump my gas (all the while thinking about how I would splurge at Starbucks after work on a venti sugar-free soy mocha hazelnut — nectar of the gods). On my walk back to my car, I also started thinking about buying something special for dinner that night — maybe I would splurge on shrimp and salmon at the store after work (the kids love shrimp and salmon night). There was a definite spring in my step at this point and I even took the time to smile coyly at a couple of customers as I approached my car. My phone rang and I couldn’t wait to answer it and tell whoever happened to be on the other end about that money jar and the $79.98. I listened intently as my friend told me about her morning and what was happening with work and where we were going to meet later on, then I mentioned that money jar and how bleak I was feeling before but now was walking on the sun with my winnings. I drove away and finished my conversation then cranked up the tunes as my new favorite song was playing — perfect timing. I was living in the zenest of moments. Then it dawned on me… I forgot to pump my gas.

I got so caught up in the feeling that I drove away without my $20 of gas… and for a brief second, my world stopped spinning. I turned the radio off, I screamed obscenities at the top of my lungs, I berated my careless behavior in such a financially poor time, and I thought about going back. I had just wasted $20 at a time when I couldn’t afford to be so careless.

But then, I let my imagination have its way with me — I imagined that another single mother of three in more dire need than me was steeling herself to pump her car full of gas and then speed away without paying. I imagined she had no other choice, I imagined she had no food at her house, I imagined her electricity was about to be cut off, I imagined her cell phone had long been disconnected. I imagined her kids needed shoes and clothes and food — I imagined they needed food. I imagined she cried herself to sleep trying to come up with a solution. I imagined she was out of solutions. I imagined she was young and scared and alone. I imagined she got caught, I imagined her children lonely and scared and crying for their mom. Then I imagined that she drove up to my pump to do her deed, and there… waiting for her, was $20 in gas. Just enough, I imagined, to get her to that job interview and secure her financial future for her and her kids. Just enough, I imagined, to give her hope for her future. Just enough, I imagined, to let her wake up to a new day. All because of my $20 that I forgot to pump.

So, I turned the radio back up and another amazing song was on — and I sang along at the top of my lungs and a tear fell down my face — a new day. I stopped at the next gas station and gave the attendant another crisp $20 bill from my money jar winnings. I laughed. I smiled at my forgetfulness. I decided I might do this again… on purpose this time. Leave $20 of gas for an unsuspecting single mother of three to find just in the nick of time to save her from herself.

I still had enough for my splurge at Starbucks and for the shrimp and salmon. All in all, a pretty good day. I’m filling my money jar back up… I wonder what stories it will have next month.

I developed a severe crush on this video and this project — I think you will too.

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