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.