Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Miss Quarter

There is a homeless guy that hangs out outside our apartment building that Iwanski and I call "Goddammit Guy." We call him that because he often paces back and forth on the sidewalk outside our building, occasionally belting out swear words (usually goddammit) at the top of his lungs.

Some days it really catches me off-guard, as I walk out of our building, don’t realize he’s there, and jump about a foot in the air when he suddenly yells out "GOD-DAMMIT!" in a really deep, extremely loud voice.

Other days, I see him from a few blocks away, pacing back and forth, and I ready myself for the barrage of swear words—but no swear words come. He just paces back and forth, back and forth, not saying a word. And he rarely asks for money. He just paces.

Iwanski and I think he probably has Tourette's Syndrome, but who knows. Maybe he’s just crazy.

But I really don’t think he’s dangerous or anything; except for the swearing, he seems to pretty much mind his own business.

So anyway, this past Saturday night, my friend Diane and I were standing in line at 7-Eleven, when Goddammit Guy got in line behind us.

He began muttering obscenities and other unintelligible words under his breath, and Diane and I did our best to ignore him as I paid for my food.

Then he began asking for money.

"Do you have a quarter?" he asked.

"No, sorry," I said. It was a total gut reaction on my part; I get asked for money by homeless people usually at least once or twice a day, and unless I decide to give a dollar, my standard response is "No, sorry."

The cashier handed me my change—three crisp dollar bills—and he stared at me angrily.

"You don’t have ONE quarter?" he insisted loudly.

He was making me nervous, so I shook my head no as I shoved the dollar bills into my purse.

"Mother f**cker!" he yelled out, and then kept cursing me out with every other swear word he could think of.

Diane and I ran out of the 7-Eleven and back into my apartment building. But honestly, I’m pretty sure Goddammit Guy is more bark than bite, so at that point, I was feeling more irritated than anything.

"I don’t like it when people accost me for money when I’m in line at a store," I said. "It’s annoying. And he apparently thinks I owe him a quarter or something."

And then I remembered another "quarter incident" that had happened several years earlier.

My sister Sheri, Iwanski, and I had gone to a Bulls game one night, back when I was pretty new to the city. Sheri and I decided to go get a beer, so we went to the concession stand.

We each ordered a beer, and the cashier said, "That’s $4.75 each."

I gave her a $5.00 bill for my beer, and waited for my quarter in change. I didn’t even think about tipping her; I hadn’t been to many sports games before, and I didn’t even know that tipping at the concession stand was something that people did sometimes.

As I was waiting for my change, I accidentally spilled a bit of my beer on the counter, and the cashier glared at me, clearly annoyed.

Meanwhile, Sheri gave the cashier a $10.00 bill…and I was still waiting for my change.

"Did she forget about my quarter?" I whispered to Sheri.

"I don’t know," she said, "Ask her."

I decided to speak up. "Um, I think you forgot to give me my change," I said.

The cashier glared at me again, and this time glared at Sheri, too.

Then, she took the $5 bill that was part of Sheri’s change and dragged it through the spilled beer on the counter as she handed it—and a quarter—back to Sheri.

"Whoa!" Sheri and I both reacted in surprise. We could hardly believe she had just dragged the money through the beer.

Then she slammed my quarter in change on the counter in front of me and snarled, "There you go, Miss Quarter," and turned away.

Sheri and I were both shocked. We didn’t know whether to laugh or to get angry.

So, we chose to laugh.

And for the rest of the night, I was referred to as "Miss Quarter."
So this past Saturday night, after the incident with Goddammit Guy, I asked Iwanski, "Is there something about me that makes people think I owe them a quarter? Do I have ‘Miss Quarter’ written on my forehead?"

I’m beginning to think I really do…because this morning, I was sitting at my desk doing my work, when my coworker Kevin came up to me and asked, "Do you have a quarter?"

I looked at him in surprise, laughed, and then told him of the misadventures of Miss Quarter.


Buck said...

I'm hearing choirs of angels . . . and you know why.

Miss Healthypants said...

LOL, Dooder! :) You crack me up! :)

Lisa said...

I can see you now carrying around a ziplock bag of quarters.

Diane said...

You forgot to mention that Goddammit Guy was going call some federal agency because you did not give him a quarter! You might not have been scared of him but I was! Remember I was standing between you two while this incident happened!

Mom said...

Diane is a better friend than me. I would not have stood between you gd guy -In long gone. would have been long gone.
By the way, can I borrow a quarter?

Random Thinker said...

Good for you standing your ground. Just because they ask for a quarter doesn't mean you owe it to them.

I once had a homeless lady follow me while I was carrying my baby daughter around town on some errands. She kept insisting that I had stolen William F. Buckley's baby. Scared the bejeesus out of me. I had to run into a store and ask the clerks to call the police.

laboxergirl said...

He may also be schizophrenic... they tend to shout obscenities too.. Can I borrow a quarter?

Anita said...

This made me think about how I relate to all pan handlers and their type. You know the ones that approach on a corner driving(we drive here in the burbs you know) and how I feel I have to turn away, not make eye contact. My husband has no problem telling someone he has no money, I always feel guilty, knowing I have a few $$'s in my hand bag.
Recently I've been approached twice in the parking lot of the grocery sort of freaks me out.
You must appear generous!!

Sling said...

Next time goddammit guy begins to approach you,ask him if he'll give you a quarter!..He'll get panhandler whiplash.

rosemary said...

In San Francisco they are right in your face and it isn't for a's "Do you have a few bucks?" with a few expletives when we didn't. We saw one guy with a sign that said "Why lie, it's for beer." another said "I smoke weed need some seed." No please anywhere.

Daisy's Mom said...

I love, love, love that Anita carries a handbag. I need to ditch my purse and jump on the handbag bandwagon!

Sling, great idea! Make their heads spin.

I usually carry a brown bag lunch or a banana when I'm downtown. I figure if someone is hungry enough to ask for $, they will take a piece of fruit or my fruit roll up. If they don't want my puddin snack pack, then they are not hungry enough to beg for $.

Maria said...

Bing says that I have a "pushover" vibe. Every time we visit a large city, I am consistently hit up by panhandlers. They NEVER approach Bing. NEVER.

Bing laughs when she tells me this, though. "Little do they know what you are REALLY like..." she says.

Mitchell said...

HA HA HA!!! That is so funny. You should have filed a complaint. Or better yet, several complaints, from several different people. Of course one of them should have been from "Miss Quarter". HA! ... miss quarter...