S
omeone obtained my debit card number and was making mischief with it in one of the ‘I’ states—Indiana maybe?—so I was without my precious plastic for several days until a replacement arrived.

Scott took out some extra cash for me to buy whatever we might need for a few days. But by that third day I was hurting—well, hurting for an entitled person. I wanted to get these three gorgeous Honeycrisp apples as an afternoon snack for The Three and, at an obscene $3.99 a pound, I was collecting change out of that drawer in the van (you know what I’m talking about) to combine with the few ones I had left over from my coffee date with my friend Suzy.

At the register, I warned the cashier—a warm soul who never fails to greet me by name—that I might not have enough in singles and quarters to pay for my outsized apples.

“I have money, Wendy,” he told me. “Don’t worry.”

I should have been embarrassed. It is shameful what I take for granted and how far away the security of the privilege we enjoy removes me from even the smallest indignities inflicted upon people around me.

I counted out my change in front of this man but also in front of the stranger who had gotten in line behind me and I could feel my face get hot. I was embarrassed because this person I’d never seen before might think I didn’t have enough money to pay for what I was trying to buy, that maybe I didn’t have enough money for anything in my life, that I lived hand-to-mouth.

It was a relief to discover the change added up to what I needed it to and to be able to push it toward the kind cashier. But the pile of loose change and paper looked shabby and insufficient by its very composition. I took my apples and left.

We have so much. In truth, I forget that every single day. And I should have been embarrassed but not by the act of having to count my small change out in front of a fellow shopper. It is shameful what I take for granted and how far away the security of the privilege we enjoy—our continued employment, primarily, in an economy that’s been hard for coming hard on five years now—removes me from even the smallest indignities inflicted upon people all around me.

Like the squirming impatience of a shopper who just wants to slide their card and get out of there, damn
it.

Our bank’s fraud prevention department is nothing if not blindingly efficient and my new card came the next day. Life is easier when I have it. I just think I see things more clearly when I don’t.