I don’t think there are many among us who would be happy to be called, ‘mean’, as in ‘mean with money’? I have many generous friends and although I’m not quite in their league, I’d hope to be thought of as reasonably generous. Definitely not ‘mean’.
So imagine my dismay when last week my children said, “I can’t believe how mean you are Mum.”
For a moment I laughed, while inwardly wondering why I ever had children when they can’t seem to say anything nice about me. Mean? Me? Surely not? How could they think that, when I am the equivalent of an ATM, doling out money daily for a multitude of what they tell me are, ‘essentials’?
At the time of their astute, uncalled for observation, we were driving home to Cork and fast approaching the toll. At my direction, my son was pushing coins around the small money drawer in the car, in search of the one euro ninety required. Unfortunately we were short a few cent, so a two euro coin it would have to be. I drove towards the cashier’s window, when my daughter piped up,
“Because I haven’t the correct change,” I explained.
So we joined the rather large queue and sat there for some time. It would appear, that some poor misfortune in the first car seemed to be waiting for the bank to personally deliver his one euro ninety to him.
“I can’t believe you wouldn’t go to the other windows and just pay two euro,” said my son.
“I told you, they don’t give any change,” I repeated.
“But it’s only ten cent,” they simultaneously groaned.
“I don’t care. Imagine how much money they’d make if everyone did that?” I countered.
I turned up the radio and ignored the lot of them. However as we sat, not moving, watching other cars race in, throw two euro into a basket and carry on their merry way, I too began to question, why?
By now there was no escape, with three cars and the offender in front of us and a string of, what I can only imagine to be, similar, penny pinching motorists, behind. Minutes ticked by and the atmosphere within the car became a little chillier with each passing second. No one spoke, but I did hear a lot of rather loud, grumpy sounding sighs. To be honest I wanted to sigh grumpily myself, or better still walk to the first car and donate the cost of the toll to Mr Unfortunate, but I was far too busy pretending I didn’t care at all about the delay.
“Maybe he’s broken down?” I suggested.
“We’d be nearly home by now,” muttered my son.
“All for the sake of ten cent!” added my daughter.
Thankfully, before any blood was spilled, the bank must have come through for car number one and we made our way to the cashier. As he handed me my ten cent I must admit I felt just a little bit ridiculous.
“Here, can you put that in the drawer please?” I asked my son, avoiding eye contact. Unfortunately my handover was less than perfect and the ten cent fell between us, lost forever beneath the workings of the front seat! As my son began some yoga moves trying to retrieve it, I said, with no hint of a smile, “Just leave it go. It’s only ten cent for goodness sake.”
Surely if I were really ‘mean’ I’d have made him look for it?
photo credit: David McKelvey Toll booths, Sri Rat Expressway, Bangkok, Thailand via photopin (license)
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