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It was the end of a long night. C-c-cold out here. About ten. I was down on Tenth and Market. Looking to catch a bus heading south.

Dang. Timetable says another 15 minutes. So I start moseying down Tenth towards the ball park. Get to Island. There's a bus stop here.

And oh yeah. Right across the road, Dirty Del’s bar (499 Tenth Street, 619-677-3789), lit up like a little jewel box in the dark block.

No time for one of their sammiches, which are really reasonable. They have a $5 lunch special, or $7 with a glass of Bud.

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Also, I see from their other sandwich board outside, things like $1 peanuts, $2 chips and salsa, $3 nachos, and $4 hot dogs, right now.

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Problem is I’m flat broke. All I’ve got is the jingle in my pocket. Except I know at this hour they have Bud drafts going for two bucks.

I haul out the change, count it out, right there in the street...

Yes! $2.50 when you count all the pennies.

I head inside, through the gaggle of guys and gals standing at the half dozen tall tables, and another group at the bar.

“Bud?” says the guy.

I must have done this before.

He pours it out, brings it to the counter. I haul out my treasure, crash it on the counter, and start counting, 25, 50, 75, 80, 90…

“Uh, no,” the guy says.

He’s looking at my coins like they are some sort of virus.

“We don’t do change.”

“Uh, what?”

“We don’t accept change.”

Wow. Welcome do East Village, land of plastic. He doesn't accept change. Guess I'll have to. Like, change of an era.

People are looking. Did I hear a snigger? Now they're all staring hard at the flat screens.

“Card?” says the guy.

Clock is ticking. Ten minutes to the bus…

I go to my wallet. Have the debit card. But is there anything in there? I’ll have to chance it.

“Try this,” I say, and I mean try.

Whew. It goes through. 'Course the guy can't be happy. The card company’s commission will take half of his two bucks away. But he doesn’t say anything.

The barflies spare me their smiles.

So I drink up. But before I spot the bus rolling down from Broadway and head on out, I leave my only two quarters as tip by the glass. Guess that’s 25 percent.

Hey you’re allowed to tip in silver aren’t you?

I stand at the bus stop, thinking. This was like the game paper-rock-scissors.

Guess tonight, paper wins.

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Comments

M. E. Dec. 15, 2011 @ 5:49 p.m.

Seems that paper lost, friend.

When he said "We don't do change," do you think he meant they prefer bills? Or, literally, not coins?

Either way, you got no respect. Bad on them.

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