The price of a bagel with cream cheese went up 25 cents today, from $2.50 to $2.75. The woman behind the counter gave me the news in terms I could not quite understand.
“Twenty five more,” she said.
I looked over at the clear-plastic container where the bagels are kept. There might have been 25 of them. Surely she wasn’t trying to tempt me into eating 26 bagels. I’m not that much of a fat ass. I thought maybe she was taking pride in having plenty of inventory, but that was also unlikely as she has worked at Muddy’s for many years and I have never known her to be boastful about anything.
I was being pretty stupid, which is par for the course when it’s a pre-coffee 6:30 in the morning. She rephrased what she said no doubt because I was looking befuddled and kept trying to hand her not enough money. She was unnecessarily apologetic about it. Prices go up. That’s what prices do and it had been long time since the last price change, probably over a year.
It had been long enough in fact that I had started thinking about how the $2.50 bagel with cream cheese was living on borrowed time and I looked toward the eventual price change with a measure of dread.
It certainly wasn’t because of the money. I’ve gotten to the point where I sometimes don’t bother picking up a quarter when I drop one on the ground. My concern was the effect this was going to have on my routine.
Let me explain. In a practical sense, the world to me is a complicated, poorly designed machine that serves no discernible purpose. I can’t ignore it. I can’t make sense of it. However, I have learned that doing certain things makes it produce certain results and some of these are to my benefit.
Think of my relationship to the machine as a series of buttons I need to push to get through the day. Some are task buttons like showering and putting on clothes. I push these because I know my day will be better if I’m not smelling bad and under arrest for indecent exposure. There are a bunch of basic-human-decency buttons I push even when I’m not in the mood. Sometimes I want something in return, but not always. There is usually enough motivation just knowing that I am not the only one in the world consigned to button-pushing and there is no harm in mak9\ing their day suck a little less. The only reason I wouldn’t push a button would be out of sone sense of loyalty to the machine itself. Fuck the machine.
So what does all this have to do with the price of a bagel with cream cheese? It’s because I want the button pushing to be as automatic as possible so I can stay inside my head where it’s safe and awesome. Up until yesterday, it was perfect. I order the same thing every day so I don’t have to say anything, let alone decide what to get. I’d always try have a five and a one handy. The five went into the register and bought me a coffee and bagel. The one went into the tip jar and bought me not being the kind of asshole who doesn’t leave a tip.
Now I have to adjust and use coins. This will probably mean carrying two extra quarters with me. I can’t continue to tip a dollar on $5.25 because that’s less than 20 percent and therefore make me the kind of asshole who doesn’t tip enough. I can bring a larger bill and get change, but I don’t want to do it all the time because I doubt there are enough singles to go around if everyone did the same thing.
It’s much easier for everyone, especially me, to have the dollars and change in hand so I truly earned the right to then retreat into Daveland where I don’t have to care about anything at all.