The first time it happened was when my husband rented a power washer from a rental store in Brattleboro. We were finishing up the work on the new foundation. I am not sure why he needed a power washer but the next day he was busy with work and asked if I could return it. Brattleboro is a twenty-five minute drive down Hogback Mountain into the valley.
He’s not going to like me sharing this story. He cuts me off every time it comes up at a dinner party, a family gathering, or a football get together with friends.
The piece of equipment was heavy. He loaded it into the car and told me to ask the shopkeeper to help, then he gave me the rental agreement. The owner’s wife greeted me when I arrived. I told her I needed help with the power washer and she sent her husband out to get it while we dealt with the paperwork. The credit card info used as a deposit was missing. I handed her my receipt. As her husband rolled the heavy piece of equipment into the store I told her my name.
“Oh, this is the one, honey,” she said to her husband. “The guy who came in yesterday and didn’t have his wallet? Remember him?”
“Oh, yeah. How’s the foundation coming along?” he asked me.
“He didn’t have his wallet?” I shook my head. “That is so typical.”
The wife waved her hand as if swatting a fly. “He does that all the time, too.” She looked over her reading glasses at her husband.
“It’s like they’re kids,” I said. “They walk out the door assuming their parents will pay for the new sneakers and the Happy Meal.”
She nodded. “I know.” I gave her my debit card and thanked them for being so trusting.
This blog is about trust in an era of mistrust, disbelief, and uncertainty.
Later in the week, my husband took a lot of the detritus from the foundation to the dump. When he came back I asked him how much it cost. Obviously, I am the one in charge of balancing the checkbook.
“Fifty dollars? I thought it was twenty-five a truck load?” I asked.
“It is but the last time I went I didn’t have my wallet with me so the guy told me I could pay him next time.”
Do you see what I’m dealing with here?
Last week, his truck battery was dead. It was the fourth time we had to jump it. “I think I need a new battery,” he said.
“Oh, you think? There’s money in the checkbook. Go get one. And bring your wallet.”
In Vermont, we often pass these old garages with junk cars out on the front lawn. The mechanics work in a barn and even do state inspections. There was a guy like this not far from here and he is also an Interstate battery dealer. He sold Rich a $150 battery for $135. Later that night while eating dinner, Rich told me he needed the checkbook. “Now what?” I asked. We’re trying to reduce our monthly nut but there’s always the endless car repairs and co-pays and other unexpected things.
“The guy I bought my battery from said he didn’t take debit cards and I had no cash in my wallet.”
We both try not to carry a lot of cash. If I take out a twenty from the ATM to go to the coffee shop, the twenty just seems to disappear. If I use my debit card it only costs me three dollars and most coffee shops I’ve been to in Vermont and other small towns offer free refills.
“He actually said his shop takes cards but HE doesn’t. I don’t think he knows how to process the card and no one else was around. He told me to stop back by today.”
My husband’s an honest, friendly guy but this was getting crazy. Then it happened to me. Two days after the election I went into a consignment shop and found a really nice Eddie Bauer jacket for fourteen dollars. While I was browsing the clothes racks, I eavesdropped on the owner and a friend discussing their fear and dismay over the election. The friend left and I made my way to the register. “I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation,” I said and told her about how I was still off the grid and sat in my car just across the street the night of the election with my laptop hooked up to the coffee shop wifi. “I was there until one in the morning,” I told her as I pulled out my debit card.
“Oh, we only take cash or checks.”
I of course had no cash and Rich forgot to give me the checkbook back.
“Don’t worry about it. You can pay me when you’re in town again.”
I couldn’t wait to tell Rich it had finally happened to me.
The store is closed Monday through Wednesday and I went to the Cape for a girls’ weekend. So yesterday, a full week after I bought the jacket, I stopped by the store. The owner was outside decorating the window boxes with pine branches and red berries. “Remember me? I owe you money,” I said.
“Oh, I always like the sound of that,” she said. She wiped her hands on her jeans as I followed her inside. They were sticky with sap. We got to talking about the election again, and how things were going over a week later. We both agreed we were deeply disturbed with the Bannon of Brietbart pick for chief counsel.
She told me she voted for Bernie. She also told me her son died from cancer and the hospital bills and deductibles were awful. We both shared our concerns about the Supreme Court and a woman’s right to choose. We pretty much agreed on everything, except for one thing. She finally felt comfortable enough to admit she voted for Trump. “I couldn’t do that,” I said. “I voted for her, and it wasn’t easy, but I couldn’t vote for him.”
“I understand,” she said. “I couldn’t take another four years of the same old thing. I’m scared and I hope he sticks to the economy and the jobs he promised.”
“Me too. If he starts out with that, I may be able to get some sleep. We have to hope for the best. Like it or not, he’s our president now.” Then I asked if she ever needed help in the store. After all, I’m worried about my healthcare and we need extra income. My books are selling and I hope this new one gets an agent but in the meantime we need more income.
“Yes, I can always use some help. It’s Twig season now but I have your number and I’ll call you.”
And this is how it goes here in Vermont almost two weeks after the election. How are things where you are?
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“I will gladly pay you tomorrow, for a hamburger today” ~ Wimpy