A Quarter for Your Troubles

20 Jun

Raise your hand if you know that quarters are important.

(That sentence is also the intro to my new rap song, “Ca$h Jams.” I’m clearly running out of material to suit both of my creative channels.) 

I, apparently, consider quarters to be like the lint in my belly button, which is supposed to just always be there, and which you’re not supposed to have to exert any effort to acquire.

(If you just emptied out your dryer vent with big plans for a Friday night refill, then you are working way too hard.)

Quarters should be in your car; they should be in your pockets; they should be in your hair when you wake up on a friend’s couch with limited memories of the night before.


When I hopped on the Mass Pike to meet my friend in Harvard Square, I had a heart full of excitement, a stomach full of nothing, and a wallet full of *coins.*

And a head full of air. Or maybe Helium.

Apparently, the Mass Pike has tolls. WHO. KNEW. I blame my GPS for not informing me of this pertinent detail.

Half way to my destination, I saw the tollbooths looming in the distance.

Thank God I have a debit card! I thought, before patting myself on the back for “clever thinking” and blasting Beyonce’s “Diva” to celebrate myself. 

When I pulled up to the toll line, I noticed that all of the booths said “Cash Only.” 

I assumed that by “cash” the government meant, “any form of currency, in any state of existence…as long as it comes with a sunny disposition and a healthy dose of  ‘good intentions.’” All of which I had with me!

“I don’t have cash,” I informed the toll man. “But I have a card!”

The toll man – who looked about my age and who was actually very cute – informed me that he could not accept a card.

Hmm. A pickle. 

“Well, I don’t have any cash,” I informed him, as I opened my wallet really wide, so as to prove my point. If I couldn’t fulfill the “currency” part of this transaction, then maybe I could meet the “good intentions” quota.

“What about coins?” he asked. 

I realized my wallet was full of coins!

One problem…

“Oh. Um, actually, these are all European coins. I’ve been abroad.”

European coins plus my aunt’s powder blue Lexus (that I’m borrowing for the summer) plus an unsure, whiney tone plus a set of “golf clubs wipes” that my dad left in the trunk equals HIGH probability of arrest and LOW probability of dating Tollbooth Man. Sad.

I cursed myself for allowing two pounds of Euros and Turkish Lira to call my wallet “home” for the past two months.

Tollbooth Man told me he’d need to write me a “tollbooth violation” and that I would receive my fine in the mail.

Is that an invitation? I wondered. Old school. I like it.

If you think that writing down a license plate number on a form is a quick process, think again. I’m pretty sure the woman in the car behind me completed her memoir and saw the birth of her eighth grandchild in the time it took for Tollbooth Man to complete my form.

As the line of ten plus cars grew behind me, I recalled a fortune I once received that said, “Oops, wrong cookie.”

I then recalled the fortune that said, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I rolled my eyes and huffed and puffed, so as to relate to “the people.” (And also to make it look like the tollbooth had some kind of “technical error” and that NONE of this was my fault.)

When I was finally on my way, I Googled “MA toll booth fines” and learned that I could possibly receive a $50 fine from my little blip…that’s like, four crop tops and three beers that I will not be able to afford. Fundraising begins now.

In Harvard Square, I drove around aimlessly looking for a parking spot…

…which I would also not be able to afford because I still did not have any quarters.

Belly button lint? Check.


Luckily, my kind, kind friend, Alison, said she would walk to my location and give me $1 that I could exchange for change at the nearby convenience store.

“Excuse me, could I please get change for this $1 bill?” I asked the convenience store man. 

The convenience store man looked at me like I’d asked for something much, much different. He didn’t say anything, so I asked a second time, assuming he hadn’t heard me. 

He did not respond well to my advances.

“The boss is watching me,” he said. 

“Well, I just need four quarters! I promise this is a real dollar bill! My friend is my witness!” I exclaimed.

“WOAH WOAH. What’s all this about ‘witnesses’? No need for witnesses,” he said. “We have cameras.”

Things were getting weird. I decided it was probably best to buy some mints and then take whatever change resulted and put it toward the parking meter. 

The mints were 99 cents. This was clearly a doomed plan.

Would the “good intentions” that failed on Tollbooth Man work on Convenience Store Conrad? 

“CAN YOU REALLY NOT GIVE US CHANGE??” Alison demanded, in a somewhat uncharacteristic tone. No need for good intentions with this exchange!

After a long pause, a squint of the eyes, and an inappropriate wink, Convenience Store Conrad said, “It’s a hot day, ladies…but I can be cool.” 

And that’s how I got my quarters AND a free packet of mints.

Moral of the story: one should never carry quarters if one likes free mints.


 (For more change-related fooleries, check out my previous post: https://sophpearl.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/spare-change/)








3 Responses to “A Quarter for Your Troubles”

  1. essbee14 June 22, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Impressed with CSC’s smooth delivery. Maybe he’d been waiting all day for such an opportunity. And this quarter thing happens to me all the time (but I refuse to learn from it or something). Yesterday I literally had two handfuls of pennies that emerged from the depths of my Mary Poppins-esque purse, but no quarters for miles. I feel your pain.

    • sophpearl June 23, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      It did seem like he’d had that comment in his arsenal for quite some time…

      And I’m so glad you can relate to my change dilemma! I blame our quarter dilemmas on a lack of quarters in society. We are not at all at fault.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting 🙂


  1. Parking and Post-its: How to Get Through Life’s Toughest Obstacles | A Series of Tom Fooleries - June 5, 2015

    […] “Oh, you don’t have money for tolls? Time to try to pay a toll with a credit card!” […]

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