ODP and my attempt at a 10 minute free write inspired by the phrase:
An expired library card
“That’ll be 67 dollars and 32 cents,” the checker said.
“This better be a damn good steak.” I replied.
He crossed his arms and stared at me. Mute, stoic, unblinking, daring me to pay. I pulled my wallet out of my pocket.
It was a really nice wallet. Hand stitched and tooled with a picture of a rose and a dagger that had inspired the tattoo on the back of my hand. I looked inside at the cash compartment and saw a five spot, three ones and some pocket lint that had collected over the years. I looked at my cards. Visa, MasterCard, American Express – none of those guys would have anything to do with me anymore, I didn’t have those cards.
I found a Diners Card and handed that to the checker. He ran it through his swipe reader and punched some numbers on the machine. We waited. We waited some more, till finally the printer started clacking and spewing out one of those skinny pieces of paper that they always want you to sign.
When it stopped chattering the checker tore it from the roll and began to read it. He frowned and put my Diners Card in his shirt pocket.
“Sorry sir, the card has been declined – insufficient funds. They’ve asked me to retain the offending piece of plastic and return it to them at my earliest convenience. Would you like to read the note?” He proffered the curled up strip of paper.
I shook my head and dug a little deeper into the wallet.
“Aha,” I exclaimed, “an old Pima County Library Card. I grew up in Tucson, you know,” I added.
My logic for telling him that was that if I gave up a little personal information he might see me as more human and perhaps be more compassionate. “Do you think that’ll work in your machine?”
“Perhaps it will,” he said as he took my old library card. “I see this is really ‘old school’ it doesn’t even have a mag stripe; lucky for you that library cards never expire. I’ll put the numbers in by hand,” and he proceeded to do so on his cash register keypad.
Pretty soon the printer began disgorging another tome and I assumed he was going to take away this card too, but he put the paper in front of me and pointed to the bottom where I was supposed to sign, then he handed me back my red and yellow library card. I picked up my groceries and headed for the door with an old Peggy Lee song playing in my head.
‘You Don’t Know’ was sounding like the scratchy B side of an old 45 and I was feeling good until the voice of the checker broke through Peggy’s blue stylings. “Sir,” he said, “I got another message from the printer, It says that steak is due back in two weeks.”
OK – I confess. I wrote furiously for ten minutes but then went back and added punctuation and corrected my spelling after time had expired. Please don’t think less of me.