(written on November 30, 2008)
It was a Sunday after bartending the Saints versus Buccaneers game when I had to make a stop before actually returning home. I despise carrying change, so I had amassed quite a large quantity of coins over the past year or so and it was time to finally cash those suckers in. I had tediously started counting them a few days prior in preparation to be rolled then exchanged at the bank …like an idiot. Then I decided it would be much easier and worth the 8.9% fee to just dump them into a CoinStar machine. Easy as that. Well, I walked into my local Publix the Saturday afternoon prior lugging all that coinage only to find they haven't got a goddamn CoinStar on premises. So, like a soused homeless person who had just knocked over a parking meter, I wandered in, aimlessly looked about and saw no such machine. I didn't recall ever seeing one at Wal-Mart either. Returning to the parking lot, I heaved the cargo back into the front seat and went home to Google "coinstar locations."
Sweetbay: Sunday evening around 6:30pm. I am walking through the automatic doors and make eye contact with the security guard. He's a tall, stoic man about 60 years old and wearing an outfit very reminiscent of Sheriff Buford T. Justice of my beloved Smokey and the Bandit (1977):
He's leaning up against the CoinStar machine. I greet him, "How ya doin'? Excuse me, but I'm about to break the bank." Half-amused, he slowly moves over to the newspaper rack for a lean as I pull a giant plastic Coca-Cola cup out of the small box I used to schlep my bullion into the local vicinity of the CoinStar. I look back to see if Buford is watching – he is, but he doesn't seem nearly as excited as I am.
The cup is filled with approximately 700 quarters that I begin dumping into what appears to be a lint separator …indeed, it is. I lift the lint trap on its fulcrum and quarters start tumbling through the machine. It sounds like the Hard Rock in Sweetbay – 'cha-ching'
I get nearly through the quarters when the machine suddenly stops churning and ceases all noise-making. Uh oh, I guess I wasn't joking when I said I was going to break the bank. Buford and I just look at each other for a second before he says "You stay there and I'll go get the manager." The manager comes out, doesn't say a word, inserts two separate keys, opens up the machine, finds two quarters stuck together, frees the jam, cleans the lint from the lint trap (this is how I knew what it was), buttons her back up, and restarts the mayhem.
I finish off the quarters and toss the big red cup back into the box as the machine continues to clunk and grind, feverishly counting my change. Now it is time for the second container. I turn back to Buford (who is still watching me) and say with a smile, "I was just gettin' her warmed up." Then I pull a very large pickle jar from the box filled to the absolute brim with pennies, dimes and nickels.
This time the machine informs me that I need to slow down. MY YOU HAVE A LOT OF CHANGE – PLEASE WAIT WHILE THE MACHINE CATCHES UP, it displays while blocking the silver and copper flow of annoying circular wealth into the tumbler area. The whole ordeal takes about ten minutes from start to finish. CoinStar spits out my stub and instructs me to exchange this at customer service: $235.
Good night, Buford. I had her purring like a kitten - she's all yours for the rest of the evening. Lean away, my good man.
CrankyGypsy (established 2001)