the first thing you think of, when you start cleaning underneath your daughter's bed, and spy a quarter right off the bat, is "I wonder if I can find $1.40 in change for my coffee tomorrow?" For years we have made coffee at home, and for years, I drank it and loved it just fine. A year or so ago, it started making me ill. It gave me a terrible stomach ache, and I would get sick after drinking it, unless I ate something quickly. I think it's connected to low blood sugar, which I will eventually get checked out, but in the meantime, I quit drinking coffee, figuring that it was probably that which was making me sick. It wasn't worth it, no matter how much I loved it, or so I thought.
But then, it creeps back in, the need, the desire for it ... it smells so good, it tastes so good, it's so ...so...comforting, a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning. I wake up thinking about it, can't wait til I get my first cup. And eventually, for some reason, I had a cup of coffee from the Mobil Station downtown (wait, it isn't a Mobil station anymore; it's just some random little mini-mart with gas, now, but everyone still calls it "the Mobil." My kids, every kid in town, says, at least once a day "I'm going to the Mobil to get a drink" and that is where they go to buy pop, or water, or Blow-Pops, or Slim Jims and Pop-tarts. It's a Belfast thing, "the Mobil" is - and when I say "downtown," really I just mean Main Street, which is one street over and one street down) I digress from the coffee tale.
So, for some reason, just before school ended last year, maybe around the middle of June, I had a cup of coffee from the Mobil, with three hazelnut creamers in it. And not only was it every bit good as I knew it would be, it didn't make me sick. At all. So, I had another cup from there, just to check it out. And since then, I think maybe I've missed two or three days in all. A small cup costs 1.05, a medium 1.29 and a large is 1.40. I've varied the size occasionally - back when it was really, really hot and muggy for a couple of weeks, I only got a small or medium, because it was almost too hot for coffee. Almost. It never really is, but I drank my coffee and then switched immediately to Diet Pepsi the rest of the day. Now that it has cooled down a bit, and mornings are enjoyable again, temperature wise, I have gone back to a large. I always try to take in exactly one dollar and forty cents. Sometimes I even just leave it on the counter. The really, really, really nice lady there in the mornings knows exactly what I am getting, every morning. She doesn't even count it out anymore, just throws it in the drawer. But see, the thing is, it has been nearly two months since I have had a paycheck, and it will be another two and a half weeks until I get my first one of this school year. So things get a little bit tight near the end of August. Every year it happens, and I know I'm not the only teacher it happens to. No matter how I try to balance my summer fund money, and stretch it out, I always run out a couple weeks before school starts. This summer has been especially tough, trying to get a second child ready for college. It's darned expensive to send someone off. So the past few days, I have been scrounging change from various places - the car, the cup next to my bed, my husband's bedside stand where he drops his change, to feed my addiction. THIS morning, I ended up paying it entirely in dimes and nickles. I have thought, and voiced the thought several times, that I really should quit buying Mobil coffee. It's a luxury, and when things are tight, luxuries should be the first thing to go. I could, after all, just switch brands of coffee at home, and try that. Or I could try a different creamer. Or I could even buy a small, instead of a large. And, by Thursday of this week, I might have to think a lot harder about it. Because I could only find 1.25 in change under the bed this morning. Now, I THINK I can scrounge up the extra 15 cents needed for a large tomorrow. But Thursday? I don't know. I DID hear some change rattling in a box in my son's room this afternoon when I went in to scoop up his dirty clothes. Do you think stealing change from his room would be sinking just a little TOO low? Yeah, I thought so.