If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that my family is very close and more than a little strange. Another thing about them is that they, like so many families, love being able to tease about really dumb things we’ve done. I seem to have a real penchant for doing dumb things and my family loves to tell me, “You’ll never live it down!” Why the picture of the dime? Read on and I’ll explain.
Mr. Comfortable’s favorite happened when he and I went to Virginia to visit his mother. We were driving from the hotel to her home and, because he doesn’t listen to directions, missed the main road to her house and we ended up on this little residential side road. It was not in the best part of town.
I wasn’t really worried. We only had to go around the block and get back on the main road. But, as we were coming to the last stop sign we saw a man talking to someone in a car. Since that car was in front of us we had to come to a stop.
While we were waiting for the car to move on I noticed the man on the street had a walker and, since I’m disabled, he instantly had my empathy. As we pulled forward the man on the street began calling to me. I admit I’m not the most worldly-wise person on earth. I thought he was just a really happy, friendly older man. Perhaps he was lonely and just liked to talk to folks driving past his home.
He called out, “Hey, Baby! Whatcha need? Just a dime! Just a dime!” Immediately I assumed he needed cash. I know from experience how difficult it is to get by with just my disability checks so I wanted to help him. We had extra cash at the time and, in fact, had a bag of change for the many toll roads. I’d stuffed about $50 in change in that bag. Perfect! I could help my fellow walker-user!
We pulled up and he repeated “Just a dime! Just a dime!” I grabbed the bag and started filling his hands with quarters and dimes. Mr. Comfortable was trying to ask me, in a quiet voice, what the heck I was doing but I kept shoveling change into my new pal’s open hands. I’d managed to give him about $20 before I heard a noise from behind our car. It was two motorcycle police officers. They’d given us a quick burst of their sirens.
Mr. Comfortable immediately pulled forward to the stop sign then on to the road to his mother’s house. The police followed us and then pulled alongside our car. The female officer shook her head slightly and rolled her eyes. She actually had to take off her sunglasses so I could see this show of disdain.
But I was still happy. I’d helped that nice man so he could buy some food or maybe even a prescription! I couldn’t wait to call home and tell my youngest son, Pete about the nice man. And that’s just what I did. As soon as we got to Mama’s I called Pete and told him everything.
I expected him to say that it was nice I met the man or that it was great we could help him a little. Instead there was a long moment of silence. Then Pete said, in that tone of voice usually reserved for small children or those who are not terribly bright, “Mom. That ‘nice’ man was selling drugs. Probably pot. When he said, ‘Just a dime’ he was talking about the price.”
It was my turn to pause. “Do you think the police knew he was selling marijuana?” I asked Pete. “Of course.” came the unwelcome response. “Why didn’t they arrest me?” By this time I was sweating, expecting a SWAT team to drop down from a black helicopter over Mama’s house.
I’ll give Pete credit. He was very patient. “Because they undoubtedly saw you pouring change into his hands and realized you weren’t there to buy drugs. You’re just kind of an idiot.”
The SWAT team never appeared and I understood the reason the policewoman had rolled her eyes. She was thinking, “What an idiot.”
This happened in 2010 and to this day, when they think it’s applicable, my family will chant to me, “Just a dime! Just a dime!” It’s become the way they lovingly tell me I’m, perhaps, being very naïve. I laugh and think to myself, “I’ll be on my deathbed and one of them will lean down and whisper, “Just a dime!”
Because when you’re naive you’ll never live it down.