Keep The Change

Ever have one of those weeks when every day is a comedy of errors?  That’s been my week.

It started last Sunday.  In my defense, I had been awake since 4:30 that morning; so everything that came out of my mouth didn’t always pass through the in-brain edit button first.  And, my friends Jamie, Mary and I had just hiked 3 miles up a river bluff and down under a train trestle at Castlewood State Park outside of St. Louis, MO.  So, when the waiter brought us our check as we sipped our iced teas at the quaint restaurant “Home” in Maplewood, MO, it didn’t register that I really didn’t pay enough for my meal (which cost $14, but we all had added a large cup of $6 soup to our order as well).  All I heard was Mary saying, “It’s $20 for us each.”  I delicately repressed a  yawn after having loaded up on carbs, and thought to myself, “Geez, that’s a lot for a tip.”  But, I was having fun and thought I would just spend my cash instead of having to figure out a tip on my debit card.  I tossed my $20 bill onto the tray and told the waiter, “Keep the change.”

Jamie left the table to use the restroom.  Mary politely said, “It’s your birthday celebration.  I’ve got the tip.”  

I was confused.  “What?” I said.  I couldn’t understand why she was going to leave more money to an already generous tip from each of us.

Mary asserted that it was “OK”.  She wanted to do a nice thing for me.  “It’s really no problem,” she smiled and began writing out her bill.

“What?” I asked again.

Again, Mary delicately said, “We ordered soup.”

I leaned back in my chair and quickly recollected the tasty, warm white bean soup with squash and spices.  “Yeah,” I sighed.  “That was good.”

Then it dawned on me.  I had short-changed the waiter and with a cocky attitude I had told him, “Keep the change.”  My friend was trying to save face and not hurt my feelings.  I began to freak out.  I insisted I pay her back.  I volunteered to walk over to the cash register and ask the waiter to stop the transaction. Mary laughed.  I even debated going over to the waiter and apologizing for my gaffe.  I was embarrassed.  Jamie came back to the table and I told her what happened.  She laughed and said, “I wondered if you would figure it out.”  I hung my head in shame.  Mary started laughing and said, “It’s OK.  I still like you, even if you are an asshole.”

That was Sunday.

On Monday, I walked my dog in the wee hours of a rainy morning.  When we got inside, my house immediately smelled like wet dog.  I tried to Febreze away the odor, and even added a few extra pumps of expensive perfume on my clothes.  It was to no avail because when I dropped my dog off at the kennel, the lobby area smelled like wet dogs, and that smell soaked into my clothes.  I got back in my car and noticed my meticulously straightened hair had been frizzed at the roots from the humidity, and the ends had been burned and split by the straightening iron.  By the time I walked into work, my heels had been rubbed raw from my cute, new flats I had purchased the evening before, and my hair looked like Monica from the Caribbean trip “Friends” episode.  

After a long day of teaching high school students, my friend and fellow English teacher, Andy, stopped by my classroom to vent about his truly horrible day.  I tried to sympathize with him but I had a blister on my foot from my flesh-eating flats.  I didn’t want to interrupt his story, and so I wheeled myself in my chair and scooted to the trash can near my desk.  I realized that the band-aid was all gooey and bloody and so I didn’t want him to see it.  I leaned over delicately and tried with stealth-like skills to drop it into the waste can.  In slow motion, I began to lean a little too far to the left.  I tried to correct myself, but my foot slid out from under me (damn flats), and down I went, with my chair toppling over me.

I stood up and couldn’t look my friend in the eye.  I could see that his shoulders were hunched up, and he sat motionless.  He did manage to ask, “Are you alright?”  While picking up the chair, I continued to look at the floor so as to avoid eye contact.  “Yep,” I said.  “I’m a moron.”  I sat back down pretending like nothing happened, and my friend acted the gentleman and did likewise.  He continued on with his story.  I giggled a little bit, and he said, “You don’t have to be embarrassed around me.  We’re friends.”  I shook my head and put on my poker face.  He then continued on with his rant about dumbass kids who can’t even complete a simple, dumbass quiz correctly.  Humiliated, I was on the verge of tears.  I started laughing some more.  I barely could contain the laughter, and this seemed to pull Andy out of his story and he asked, “What’s so funny?”  I laughed harder and loudly said, “I fell out of my f—ing chair, dude!”

That was Monday.

On Tuesday, my mom (who was staying with me for the week because she had a doctor’s appt. in St. Louis) needed my car.  She had to drop me off at work.  She dropped me off at the circle drive, and at the end of the day, she picked me up there as well.  I had to stand out in front of the school for 15 minutes waiting on my mom to come and pick up her 37 year old daughter from school.  My high school students honked and waved at me as they drove by, and the cross country track team whizzed past me as I heard a few say, “Hi, Ms. H.  What are you doing out here?  Waiting for the bus?”

That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday, my mom needed my car again, so she dropped me off at the circle drive.  As I walked down the long corridor to the mail room, I realized I had forgotten my purse which had my classroom keys in it.  The English department chair had to let me in my classroom, and other colleagues had to unlock and lock the English computer lab for me when I took my 2 writing classes in there.  Not too bad of a day thus far until my friends asked me if I wanted to go to lunch with them.  I thought being out in the sunshine and fresh air would do me good, so I said “Yes.”  As we were walking out to the parking lot, I asked if my friend Katie wouldn’t mind driving me.  She agreed.  When we got in her car, I asked shame-faced, “Would you mind buying my lunch?”  I explained to her my dilemma, but I promised her I would gladly pay her tomorrow for a chicken quesadilla today.

That was Wednesday.

On Thursday, my mom needed my car again, so she dropped me off at the circle drive, again.  In the afternoon, I was on lunch hall duty near the cafeteria.  I had to stand guard by the double doors so students wouldn’t try to leave early and roam the halls. A group of them had gathered near me the last few minutes so they could make a mad dash to their lockers at the passing period.  As I was instructing them to move back, two students flung open the door from behind, and I was smacked in the shoulder by the heavy wooden door.   I was tossed into the throng of hormonally-challenged teenagers who had tried to warn me to move out of the way.

At the end of the day, my mom picked me up at the circle drive and we drove into St. Louis to go to the hotel where she was going to meet my Dad and nephew so they could go to my nephew’s doctor’s appointment early the next morning.  My mom was “starving,” and hadn’t eaten anything all day except my dark chocolate M & Ms and Wavy Lay’s potato chips. As we crossed over the Eads Bridge, mom suggested we eat at the buffet at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.  It wasn’t my first, second, or third choice, but she insisted on buying, so I decided to not pass up a free meal.  One greasy chicken breast, a platter of bean salad and romaine lettuce, 3 crispy and dry crab rangoons, and a tart lemon square later, we waddled out of there.  Mom said, “Well, there, I fed ya.”  Like her good little ducky, I followed her out to the car.

When I finally left to go home, I drove in bumper-to-bumper traffic for over an hour, and had to detour onto another interstate to get back to my home sweet home where I prepared for my final day of the work week.  I let my dog out to use the restroom, and had to chase after him because he caught scent of a skunk that was obviously nearby.

That was Thursday.

On Friday, I drove myself to work.  I jammed out to my favorite tunes on my iPhone, and I was looking forward to an easy-going day.  When I got out of my car, my sunglasses fell and the lens broke.  I bent down to pick them up and was knocked in the butt by my car door.  By third hour, I had been berated by a belligerent student who swore I lost her final draft of her paper (which I did not, and which I later found, unfinished by her).  After hall duty, I saw my friend Andy standing outside his classroom door.  We chatted for a few minutes.  I briefed him on my crazy week, and vented about how upset I was that a student felt the need to humiliate me because she was embarrassed about her own error.  He smiled and patted me on the back and said, “Well, at least you’ve been upright the rest of this week.  That’s an accomplishment.”

What a full week of blunders, bloopers, gaffes, falls, fails and faux pas.  Someone please pass the egg.  I’ll rub it all over my face and save myself and everyone else the trouble.

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6 thoughts on “Keep The Change”

  1. Meeda, Megan, Meg, Meggo, I didn`t need your caR, BUT SINCE i HAVE A “HEART CONDITION” i THOUGHT IT PRUDENT TO have wheels to take myself to….! lol No, I didn`t like the food @ the casino, but hey we didn`t have to cook! BUT, I didn`t fall out of my chair! lol : ) Love you, Mom

    1. Oh heart condition, right. Maybe I shoulda been the one shuffling you along through the week. Next time, let’s pick somewhere else other than the CQ. Blech!

  2. OMG . . . . I seriously laughed so hard tears were running down my face. I hope it makes your week end on a better note to know that I think you are one helluva woman. I am proud that you are my niece, and I will love you forever and a day. Best laugh of the whole week!!

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