All Change

Ever since being publically humiliated by a school teacher in 1973 for handing over 60 pence in 1 pence pieces for my weekly school dinner ticket, I have had a lingering anxiety about not handing over too many of the wrong kind of coin, in case I am told I am an idiot and to stop wiping my nose on my sleeve.

In the station ticket office this morning, I rummaged through the bulging pile of coppers in my brand new purse, in the hope of finding a hidden £1 coin with which to dilute my £1.60 contribution in small change for my train fare. Sadly, I didn’t find one, but I did find where I had put that hearing aid battery I was looking for the other day.

I warily handed over a £10 note instead of 160 x 1 pence pieces, with an ironic “Sorry I don’t have anything smaller”. I hoped to remove the need for the ticket man to roll his eyes and say “Huv ye no got anything smaller?” like they usually do when confronted with the smallest bank note available from a cash machine. My ploy worked, but as the train rolled into the station, the ticket man said something lengthy and inaudible (apart from the single word ‘five’) from behind the bullet-proof glass. I hesitated just in case he had announced that I was an idiot for not having the right change and that the world was going to end in five minutes, but his frantic catapulting of £1 coins onto the counter as the train doors opened told me that he must be apologising for not having any five pound notes.

As I did my best to get my purse closed, I marvelled at how few words my highly trained Cookie Bite Cortex needed to hear in order to negotiate the average ticket purchase, and felt delighted to have met the only other person in the entire world who cared about handing over too many coins of a single type in one transaction.


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