Today, here in Canadaland, we received a poorly timed rain. The Heavens opened above us during the second inning of Crash’s ball game and Bang’s ball practice. We tried to wait it out, but waiting wasn’t to be had. The rain was as relentless as the questions asked by children. The rain didn’t quit so we did. Called it a day, postponed the game. The parents and kids of Bang’s group soldiered on. They completed their practice. As my mom used to tell me, “You’re not made of sugar. You won’t melt.” Or, “Don’t worry, shit floats.” With baseball done for the night, everyone went home.
Except the Wood family didn’t go home. With the boys still in uniform and cleats, we went to Tim Hortons. The rain may have been dampening the world but our happiness was rising and swirling with the aroma of donuts and freshly brewed coffee. But I’m not here to wax poetic about a fast food coffee shop.
We horked down our chocolate chip muffin and cookie and Tim Bits then, just as he always does, Bang went to man the door. Or more accurately, boy the door. He loves to play doorman and open the door for those entering and leaving. One time someone gave him a dollar. Another time someone gave him a coupon for a free donut. While the rewards are nice, he does it for the smiles.
This evening he was given a quarter for his kindness. An American quarter.
Here in Canadaland, we use the same coins as our southern neighber. Granted, we have a couple extra, the loonie ($1) and the toonie ($2). Like our noisy neighbor, we also have a nickel, dime, and quarter. The coins of the two nationalities are interchangable here. No one takes notice when we use American coins.
However, in the USA that isn’t always the case.
DW and I used to live in Virginia. It was a cozy, sleepy little hide-away town. The nearest pet store that had crickets to feed a couple anoles I had aquired was an hour and a half away. The return trip crossed a toll bridge. Realizing we didn’t have change or cash to pay the toll we stopped at a gas station to use the ATM. Turns out we only had $19 left in our checking account no access to our savings account because it was 1745 and there were no smart phones. We could not withdraw any of that $19 because ATMs only dispense twenties.
All we needed was two dollars.
We scrounged around our car. Between the seats. Under the seats. In the glove box. In the center console. In the hatch. Under the spare tire. It’s amazing all the places $2 will try to hide. We found it. We also found that toll booths don’t take pennies. Finally, after an a decade of hunting and gathering we hand over our change and wait with baited breath for the toll clerk to count it. This is when the cars started piling up behind us.
She continues counting like she’s the fu*king Kingdom’s Master of Coin. Then she hands me back a dime. A God damn dime!
“I can’t accept this. It’s a Canadian dime.” she told us. We were down to one dollar and ninety cents.
I explained that was all change, all the money, we had to give her. All we had left were pennies. We aready knew she didn’t want those either. Somewhere in the distance behind us a car horn honked. It could have honked all day, it wouldn’t have given us the dime we needed. Thankfully, by the grace of God, she waved us through. We were relieved to be allowed to return home.
As were the thousands who were waiting behind us.
Never again did we cross that bridge without knowing first hand that we had the money to get back across it.
Bang took his American quarter home and put it right in his wallet. He knows three more will get him a cookie from Tim Hortons.