After retiring as a Superintendent of Schools, my husband collected his loose change in a coffee can. When the dull coins neared the top of the blue can, he decided to take it to the local grocery store to cash it for our upcoming trip to Las Vegas. As we drove to the store, he said, “You take it and put it through the coin machine. I’m embarrassed.” I agreed to do it, but the coffee can was way too heavy for me to carry into the store and lift high enough to pour the change into the CoinStar machine near the cash registers. So, my husband joined me after all.
Together, we lifted the can and leaned over in amazement as the coin machine devoured the quarters, nickels and dimes. The steady clanging of change was music to our ears as the digital counter totaling our stash climbed even higher. Every now and then, there was silence as we reached in to take out a button or token that had accidentally been placed into the coffee can during the year. We laughed and high-fived each other when it totaled $200.00 and was still counting. We turned our attention back to the machine and our heads were nearly touching sides as we watched in delight with our backs towards the rest of the supermarket. We were in our own little world when my husband was suddenly tapped on his shoulder. We both turned to see the long time County Superintendent of Schools, who met with my husband for years at the county’s monthly Superintendent’s Round Table meetings. His beige suit was in sharp contrast to my husband’s too-short blue gym shorts and too-tight Under Armor tee shirt. The county superintendent’s face opened into a wide grin. He pointed to our scratched Maxwell House Coffee can of change and chuckled, “Frank, is this what happens to you when you retire?” We all had a good laugh.
What are the chances of this happening? Just just one month later, I sent my husband to the next town to a Laundromat to dry a bulky comforter that didn’t fit in our dryer. He first made a stop at the drug store and then parked his black Lincoln Continental in front of a pizza place next door to the Laundromat. He felt out of place as he walked into the mildewy establishment to place the comforter in the dryer. He didn’t appreciate the clientele lurking around the washers and dryers, so he decided to wait outside and clean the inside of his car while our comforter tumbled. When the car interior was clean, he tossed the trash into the outside container, picked up the comforter and then headed for home.
As soon as he placed his keys on the kitchen table, he realized that he was missing the bag with his purchase from the drug store. It dawned on him that while cleaning his car, he had accidentally thrown-out his very expensive diabetes test strips that he had on the front seat in a white plastic bag. He rushed back to the pizza restaurant’s trash can and searched furiously for the pharmacy bag. As he did, old soda cups splashed brown coke spots on his cream colored golf shirt. Sweat rolled down his reddened face. As he wiped it from his eyes, his filthy hands smeared trashcan dust across his cheeks.
As he neared the bottom of the trashcan, his eye caught a glimpse of the white plastic pharmacy bag. He leaned deeply into the can, stood on his tippy toes, and finally pulled it out, along with a paper plate that was glued to the bag by pizza cheese. He stretched the two apart, smiling as he lifted the pharmacy bag in triumph. In that exact moment of glory, the very same County Superintendent of Schools pulled up to the pizza place in his new silver Lexus. He exited the car and stopped in his tracks. He took one look at my, sweaty, disheveled, husband and shook his head as if to clear it. He said, “Man, I am never going to retire if this is what becomes of you! Wait till I tell the guys at this month’s round table meeting!” My husband started to explain, but instead just rushed to his car and drove away.