On Hitting The Jackpot

“What’d you do?” he asked. “Hit the jackpot?”

I was standing at the fare machine in the subway terminal. Coins rattled in the machine, falling in the change cup. I looked to my right. A kid, maybe twenty-two, had asked the question. It was an obvious question — the fare machine sounded like a slot machine dispensing its winnings.

“Only had a twenty,” I said. “Getting my change back in dollar coins.”

“Better than me,” he said. “I’m getting nickels.”

I wondered idly if they were my nickels. Probably not, I decided.

Dollar coins!

It seems like there’s only two places where dollar coins are given back in change. Post office machines. Fare machines.

I looked at my coins. A few Sacagaweas. A George Washington dollar. A Suzy B. Some James Monroes. A couple of St. Thomas of Jefferson.

It occurs to me that St. Thomas wouldn’t appreciate being called that. He wasn’t a saint. He wasn’t even a Christian.

It occurs to me that St. Thomas wouldn’t appreciate having the words “In God We Trust” on a coin commemorating him, either.

I’ve never liked how the Sacagaweas and the Presidential dollar coins tarnish. When they’re new and uncirculated, they have such a magnificent golden shine. But after a few days they’ll turn a murky brown. Moreso on the Sacagawea than the Presidents.

I hadn’t really hit the jackpot. I just had a pocket full of change.

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