It’s all you’ve got left.
You see, when I left home, I’d changed a thousand pounds into dollars. I’d never held that much cash at once before, hundreds of banknotes like a flick-book in a child’s hands. I’d packed my rucksack, gotten a lift to Heathrow and then boarded my plane.
Mum had done some crying somewhere in the middle, weeping about her poor baby running off to a new land and all that, but that was just par for the course. She cried when I went to visit friends in Scotland the other week, convinced herself that I wasn’t coming back. Dad, who has never cried in the entirety of my existence, offered me the traditional Englishman’s handshake and then, like a laser-guided stiff upper lip, towed my mother back through the departure lounge. I was free.
I was going to America.
Of course, money is designed to move so I spent my first dollars on the plane. Bought myself a cheeky little Jack Daniels and coke, seeing as I was going to be heading through to Tennessee on my way from New York to Florida. I had it all planned out, with permits and visas and everything.
That all lasted until about six minutes after I got off the plane. Spent some money on a taxi, driven by a man who clearly recognised me as a tourist, AKA a money-tree. I got a great tour of New York, but it set me back $80. Still, I had more than enough for the rest of my trip. I’d do some shopping in the morning, get some clothes then it was onto exploring.
It turns out, everything just costs more in America. Everything I took for granted, just seemed to be eking out a little more from my petty cash. Change went into my pocket as notes went back into my wallet. I’d be getting the Greyhound to Philadelphia tomorrow, another $20 but it was a good adventure. I was all set, what with the bar down in Philly taking me on for a few weeks. Good to get some walking around money, just in case.
Then somebody stole my wallet. I know, I know. I shouldn’t have kept all my money on me at once, I should have considered all of this. But I didn’t. You were right.
I think I know exactly when it happened. Some guy in a hoodie barged into me as I was walking down Broadway, while I was distracted by all the pretty lights. He apologised to me, then disappeared before I thought anything of it. I went to pay for a pretzel about twenty minutes later when I realised it was gone.
No wallet. Completely gone. No ID, no cards, no nothing.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the change. All I had left was two dollars. Eight quarters, a bus ticket and hopefully a job waiting for me in Philadelphia. I had no idea where I was going to stay, but I could do this right? Two dollars isn’t a lot of money, but when it’s all you’ve got…
At the very least, it’s enough for a phone call home.
The Idiot in Tin Foil