It was raining cats and dogs and I needed a warm, dry place that would enable me to rest. I desperately needed to get out of this mess that Mother Nature had provided.
As luck goes there is the bad, good and average varieties. I vividly remember having good luck. But, recently mine had been so bad that average luck was beginning to look pretty good. The downturn in the economy had caused me to lose my job, house and girlfriend in that order.
The search began of my pockets for anything that might resemble money and discovered that I was down to $5.00. Yes, only $5.00 to my name plus the hole I had also discovered in my right front pocket.
That brought forth a dilemma for me. I must make a decision as to what should be my last remaining investment for a while.
I could invest in stocks, but the brokerage fee would be at least $50.00 to 60.00, and besides my $5.00 would not garner very many shares, so that idea was eliminated. On the other hand, I could flag down a taxi-cab and ride around for $5.00 worth, however that also wouldn’t get me out of the rain for very long. Finally, I decided to purchase a cup of coffee at the local eatery-coffee shop to think about my remaining options.
As I entered the coffee shop I was pleasantly surprised to find the environment so well designed. As an additional bonus, it was warm and dry!
Wanting to display what little bit of sophistication and confidence that I had left, I swaggered boldly up to the counter to order a cup of jo. But, I found much to my dismay that I had to make further decisions which, as you have probably concluded by now, I literally detest.
The person behind the counter said, “Will that be a flavored or unflavored latte and do you prefer any degree of sweetening in your latte? What temperature would you prefer your drink to be? Or perhaps you would enjoy a peppermint mocha!”
“Gee whiz,” I thought to myself, “All I wanted was your common variety run of the mill cup of coffee when I entered this establishment. But, now I even must select the country from which the beans come!”
After what seemed like hours of deliberation, I finally decided upon a flavored latte. As it was Christmas time, I also selected peppermint as my flavor.
“That will be ready in just a few moments and that will be a total of $4.12.” Upon the emission of those words by the cashier, cancellation of my order was all that could come to my mind. But, in that I saw that my drink was already being prepared I quickly realized it was too late for that. I settled for the next best choice which was to become psychologically floored. After recovering from the ensuing shock, it was with hesitation that I gave her my last $5.00 and by my astute mathematical calculations I concluded that I only had $.88 to get me to where ever it was guaranteed to be continually warm and dry.
As I was once told by someone, “Everything bad that occurs in your life has some good in it if you search enough.” After a rather through search I did discover the good. My remaining monetary wealth would render me with no more decisions!
The barista, also behind the counter, barked out like my former drill sergeant, that a peppermint latte was ready for Jim. The girl who took my order ask me what my first name was and I naturally thought that her question was motivated by the fact that she found me interesting, but how in the world could anyone be interesting with only $.88 left to their name. No, she didn’t find me interesting, and I came back to earth to realize that I was only a viable commercial tool.
Well, at least I was now armed with my latte (which is French for coffee) as I entered the community of coffee drinkers. I immediately discovered that all of us in that room had one very important thing in common. We were all drinking coffee.
As I told you, I was tired and so I sought the largest and softest chair in the house. I found that very chair, and it was unoccupied. So, realizing that status, I rushed toward the chair hopefully without drawing anyone’s attention.
Turns out that I was not the only one that had an eye on that chair as there was a girl rushing for the same chair.The brutal fact was that somehow we collided. Our collision caused us both to be occupying the same chair staring at the ceiling. It also caused us to both spill our drinks which were replaced free of charge, after we signed a waiver, by the management. Actually, I was in the chair and she was sitting on my lap.
For a moment we just sat there collecting our thoughts and she finally broke the rather uncomfortable silence with “My name is Kim, what is yours?” I replied “I’m Jim, but I only have 88 cents left to my name.”
She totally misunderstood me for she thought I said, “But, my other name is 88 cent.”
“I am glad that we met,” I said, “But, I apologize for the method we used.” “Oh God! I am so glad to finally meet you,” she replied, “I have your records everywhere! May I have your autograph?” A request that was gladly fulfilled. I simply signed her coffee container, Mr. 88 cent.
“Here I am sitting on the lap of a world famous artist who I greatly admire,” she stated. “And by the way your apology is accepted Mr. 88 cent.” I wanted to tell her she was confused and that it was the word 50 that she was seeking, but in that I had spent a year singing in the church choir when I was in the third grade and occasionally played the harmonica, I recanted. Nor did I feel guilt that I was misleading her as it was a matter of assumption on her part. Besides, reflecting on my past accomplishments, my musical qualifications were pretty good.
Don’t misunderstand, I am nowhere near a great musician, but I have been exposed to some really great music.
She had found another chair and was now sitting directly across from me. Upon further inspection I found her to be very attractive and intelligent. This led to me inquiring if she were married or was in a serious relationship.
Fortunately for me, she was not married and had broken up with her boyfriend of five years, only two days ago. But, even though I had literally bumped into a nice woman I was still plagued by the fact that I only had $.88 cents.
She asked me what my next record would be and where I was going for my next engagement. Somehow this query brought me to the Juncture of Truth and Confession. Although I felt not the least bit guilty for the misrepresentation, I told her who I really was, and what had brought me to this coffee shop. For convenience sake I did not include the part about the $.88.
For a moment she hesitated trying to sort through the information I had just told her. Visions of her leaving her chair thinking that I was a worthless bum went through my head. Instead she said, “I appreciate your truthfulness and letting me know who you really are.”
“Besides, I had doubts that you were a successful musician by the hole in your pocket.” Damn! The hole I felt from the inside of my pocket had worn through to the outside so it was a visible spectacle for anyone to witness. Nevertheless, she obviously felt better knowing the truth and we commenced to have a really meaningful conversation.
I came to the conclusion that the person I was talking with was not only attractive and intelligent, but she was also very interesting. As an additional incentive, we had much in common.
Never in my life have I ever wanted to ask someone out now that we were through with our coffee. But, where could I take this fine person and spend only $.88? I reluctantly eliminated that possibility and instead asked if I could walk her to her car.
On our way out I passed the cahier’s kiosk and noticed that the coffee shop was also pushing lotto tickets to augment their sale of coffee and eats. They had one that they were selling for $.50, in which one could win a jackpot of $500.00. I calculated that $.38 would probably get me as far as $.88 so I bought a ticket.
In the process of scratching off the hidden numbers, jubilation overcame me when I discovered that I had won $50.00.
No, it wasn’t the jackpot, but it sure did seem like it at the time.
I would have learn to sew so that there wouldn’t be a glaring hole in my pants but, now I could ask Kim out to a respectable restaurant and have a nice dinner. In ending our little story I have discovered an undisputable fact. The words 50 cents brings me very good luck.
P.S. In that I love happy endings, I feel compelled to relate to you an addendum to this story.
Kim and I were married. Our love for each other produced two babies. Little Kim is three months and little Jim is five years old. My wife is performing one of the most difficult tasks in that she is a housewife and I am the vice-president of operations for the company that furnishes coffee to the very coffee house where Kim and I first “bumped into each other.”