Before debit cards and Apple Pay, there was money. As a kid, one would scour the couch and laundry-room hoping to find enough change to score a bag of Sour Cream and Onion’s, or some other tasty treat at the vending machine. Quarters in particular were coveted above all other coins. The gumball machine array at the grocery store embodies the quarter’s dominance. From the suck machines on the bottom, one could score a hand full of chick-lets for a nickel. Moving up and to the right, Boston baked beans for a dime. The top row – the magical row – sported all manner of fantasticality.
A quarter might score one a gold nugget ring in one machine.
Maybe a tattoo of Tweety Bird, instead.
In another, oddly scaled plastic football helmets… “Please let it be the Raiders,” I would beg!
“Mom, can I have a quarter…”
“Mom, can I have another quarter…”
“Mom can I have just one more… I got the 49er’s helmet, they suck!”
Counting out exact change from one’s pocket, past the lint and debris, meant all was right with the world. There was no better treat on a summer day than an ice-cold soda. Elation can so quickly turn to discontent.
“Five, ten, twenty,” I counted in my head as the cents accumulated in the machine. Now, adding a quarter, “forty-five…” Then the sound of the quarter trickling through the innards of the machine, bing-bong, click-clack and the ching-a-ling-ling as it took a lap around the change return box.
“Damn it!” it didn’t take.
Flipping the mud flap of the returned change area up with my finger and putting it back in one motion, I continued:
“Forty-five…” Bing-bong, click-clack and the ching-a-ling-ling.
Horror unfolded in slow motion in the palm of my hand… the quarter wasn’t a quarter at all. There’s some sort of queen on it!! On the other side, a moose! W the actual F??? It was a charlatan, an impostor…
It was a Canadian quarter and a soda machine don’t play.
In Canada this flat shiny turd might be a viable form of currency, in the US, it is a sick tease.
A Canadian quarter approximates reality.
A Canadian quarter is a close second.
It seems fully functional, until the “no soda for you,” gut punch.
A common manifestation of anxiety is negative thinking. A common manifestation of negative thinking is the downward spiral. A common manifestation of the downward spiral is the, “what if.”
What if I fall on my face in the cafeteria?
What if I am not qualified for this job interview?
What if my husband hasn’t called is because he has amnesia?
What if I never find the man/woman/home of my dreams?
What if I am crushed by falling space debris?
What if’s are psychological Canadian Quarters deeply nestled in the cognitive distortion of fortune-telling. They seem like the real-deal, but they’re not.
In my next post, I will elaborate more about the what ifs, saty tuned…