Ten Dollars

I only needed 10 dollars. That’s all– just 10 dollars would spring me from the cold parking garage. Who leaves the house without a purse, or a phone, or even a wadded up bill in a pocket? Me. I do. As I raced out of the house to the earliest appointment at the pediatrician so my kids can have flu MIST–not flu SHOTS because flu SHOTS suck, mom, and I DON’T WANT THE SHOT, did they promise the MIST?– I grabbed only my coffee travel mug. Admittedly, if you’re going to get stranded in a cold parking garage with your children, it’s nice to have a hot beverage.

I realized my mistake as soon as I pulled the ticket out of the machine, so I had the entire length of a flu mist appointment to hit up strangers for a ten-spot. I’m friendly; my kids are polite and cute. Easy peasy. I told the boys not to worry, people being mostly awesome and all. Right away, I planted the seed for charity with the piggybacking mom in the elevator.

“Mine are exhausted, too! Late night with all sorts of junk, right? Why did I think this early appointment was a good idea? Right? I LEFT MY PURSE RIGHT ON THE COUNTER!”

“…”

Whatever, piggy backy mom, I suppose you’ve got your arms literally full if your sort of large child with completely serviceable legs can demand carriage.

Stepping out of the now awkward elevator, it was too much to hope I’d see a mom I knew. Strike two. None of the other parents was chatty, either, but all quietly tortured with un-immunized children too early on a Saturday. Quickly, we were escorted into a room to await squirtable antigens and, with any luck, a tenner from the nurse. Sniff, sniff, thanks, thanks and then,

“Could you do me an enormous favor? I left the house without my purse! Stupid, right? But now I’m trapped in the garage. Is there any way I could borrow ten dollars from you—or the office—and I’ll drive right back to repay you?”

“…”

This ellipse was actually accompanied by slow, backwards walking and confused utterances including, “I don’t know. Um, can you call someone?” and other things that weren’t “I don’t have 10 dollars” or anywhere near, “sure, let me get my bag.”

Whatever, nursy. Maybe your credit cards are maxed and that bill in your wallet is destined for the Starbucks break that will safeguard your sanity during a Saturday spent injecting children. I understand. (I also hope your barista spelled your name all normal, thwarting a hilarious Facebook update.)

Stepping out of the now awkward exam room, Flustered Nurse was still offering inane suggestions that did not include giving me ten dollars. Certainly nurse #2 was sidling up to offer an actual solution to my problem,

“I can’t even call anyone. My phone is in my purse. Stupid, right? I just need ten dollars to get out of the garage.”

“Oh, just go talk to the garage attendant and explain it to him.”

Sure, because reasonable people will have a simple solution to this problem of being trapped in a parking garage. I wondered if it would involve me asking the garage guy for 10 dollars? Probably. I backed away with apologies and assurances that All Would End Well in spite of their eye-averting denial of how easy all of this could be remedied if they would just let me borrow ten dollars.

As luck would have it, Piggy Back Mommy was stooped at the elevator to let her spider monkey child push the down button. Testing the kindness of strangers again, I shamelessly floated my concerns about the garage,

“Well, that was fast! Did you get the mist?”

“Yes. Her nose is all tickly. It took longer to park than to wait for the appointment!”

“I know! But, silly me, somehow I left without my purse and now I might be in there for hours.”

“…”

doors open

“Good luck!”

Thanks. Thanks, Piggy Back Mommy. I think luck is all I need. I mean, 10 dollars will get me outta here, but luck is another fun route to take. Explaining myself to the slightly scary and certainly grumpy man in the glass cubicle should go swimmingly. And good luck to you with that whole daughter-as-sloth thing you’ve got going on.

Grumpy cubicle man wasn’t all that grumpy, just super suspicious of Weird Handout Mommy asking how to get out of the garage without paying. He offered to call my husband for me to get his credit card number. Whew! Really? It’s actually this easy? Yay, a solution! Numbers are written down, I am viewed not as a criminal peddling cash with my small children in tow, and the attendant slips my card into the magic machine that tells the electronic garage powers we’re square.

“You’ve only been here ten minutes.”

“I know. It was a quick appointment. All that fuss for 8 dollars, right?”

“Right. I’m cancelling this. No charge.”

Thank goodness for not-so-grumpy cubicle man. Because when you really want your kids to believe that people are mostly awesome, it’s easier when someone occasionally is. And awesome cubicle man is getting a thank you from Weird Handout Mom… with a 10-dollar Starbucks card. Because what you put out there comes right back atcha.

TEN DOLLARS

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21 responses

  1. One advantage of being male is the reflex action involving “pat the back pocket” before leaving the house. Even a routine traffic stop involves “license and registration please” from the Officer.

  2. Ask someone who is lower middle class or poor – they know what it feels like and are much more trusting. Upper middle class or rich would never give anything to an individual – that’s how they got well-to-do in the first place, by not trusting.

    • I thoroughly disagree, Paul. I believe ALL people are mostly awesome. I really do. I just happened to run into a handful of people this morning who, for whatever reason, just weren’t. Personally, I cannot imagine not diving into my purse to grab cash for a mom with two small boys stuck in a parking garage. I’d be happy to help, and would know that somehow this small, small kindness would be paid forward in the universe. Really, aren’t MOST of us like this? What saddened me was the knee jerk, “yikes, is she REALLY asking me for money” reaction. Over ten dollars. Ten dollars.

  3. I remember when a youthful moviegoer always carried a NICKEL for a phone call “just in case”. Is the $10. bill the new nickel?

    Sent from my iPad

  4. I was most surprised that the nurses didn’t help out, especially since they know you. I would have happily given you $10, assuming that I didn’t leave my purse at home! I have found myself in similar situations but didn’t even have cute kids in tow. So I keep some $$ in the car and also remembers my credit card numbers (seasoned online shopper).

    • After yesterday morning, I vowed to keep a twenty in the glove box. And, right? The nurses DO know me. I’ve been taking my children to that office FOR ELEVEN YEARS. It was a weird morning. And humiliating to have to ask a 20 something nurse for a ten spot.

      • I am surprised that no one helped you, and I wonder what would have happened if your purse had been stolen? I’ve occasionally thought about what I would do with no money, cards, keys, or phone – I suspect/hope they would have been more kind. I would likely be there with a purse and no cash, but I would have gladly put it on my card!

        • Right?? I mean, if directly asked for a temporary 10 dollar loan or (gasp) a gift of a tenner to get me and my small boys home, wouldn’t MOST people help? Apparently not. Paul, up above, isn’t surprised. And in my first re-telling of this vignette I included the fact that my husband works across the street, implying (I thought) that the nurses were denying the children of a colleague safe passage home. But this statement brought “class” into it somehow. And that saddened me. I have this ridiculous notion that we are One Community. And I want my kiddos to spread good stuff out in the world… and we all need examples for them to see. The hero of the day turned out to be not Nurses or Other Moms (people we assume to be safe bets), but grumpy cubicle man.

  5. I can’t believe no one would help you out. I’m like you. I prefer to believe the world is really a good place with good people in it, some folks are just having a bad day or a bad time at different times, but most really are good at heart. But even the nurses not helping you out. They’ve known you for years and know they’ll see you again when your kids are sick, so if they want their money back that badly they could always just bill you for it. I mean, come on.

    I’d have been weird grumpy mom with the slightly scary oversized teen boy who is still seeing this particular doctor because he doesn’t feel ready to leave his pediatrician yet. But if I hadn’t given you the $10, he would have 😉

  6. So odd the office nurses didn’t make more of an effort to help. And so kind of the man to offer a solution and then waive the fee entirely. I was thinking about the same story as Paige referenced, but I don’t know chapter and verse, so thanks to her for the pointer.

  7. Pingback: $100 | Blooms and Bubbles

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