Full Cart, Empty Wallet. Is There Anything Worse?

I never have any money. It is a fact.

I don’t mean in the impoverished sense just in the “I have to use my Visa to pay for my $1.97 coffee” sense.  Which really is not a problem because EVERYBODY takes Visa. The only time my lack of cash is an issue is on the off chance that I don’t have my Visa. Until recently, I would just pull any one of the other cards out of my wallet and move on. But, in his quest to save us from certain financial ruin,  Chris has made me give up my other Visa, my Discover Card, my Gap Card and my US Airways Mastercard.  Even my business credit card is on loan to someone much more responsible than I.

So here we are: Memorial Day Weekend. Summer is upon us.

As much as I love summer time, a certain panic sets in as the days get longer and the sun gets hotter. The ice cream man cometh. The minute I hear the creepy jingle jangle of that familar van, my heart begins pounding. I recall with shame the lows to which I stoop to obtain for my children those frozen confections they so desperately need. I have dumped out piggy banks and crawled beneath the seats of my car scrounging every possible quarter. Once I even asked Youssef to take a check in the amount of $6.50. Despite his dubious ice cream man stare, he did in fact accept my check.

But, I digress

So it was with a thin wallet that I arrived at BJs this afternoon for the third time in as many days. I filled my cart with ribs, veggies, snack items, soda,  and (the true sign of a picnic) a three pack of wasp spray.  I did not look at prices I just filled my massive cart and pushed through to the checkout.

It never occurs to me to tally the cost of my mountain of stuff. That is until I begin rummaging through my hand bag only to find: 2 crayons, yesterday’s BJs receipt, my lipgloss, and NO Visa card. The only cards I have are my BJs Membership card, my ATM card, and a Nordstrom Gift card. I eye it sadly—why I was at BJs and NOT at Nordstrom right now was beyond me.

As my last bulk item is scanned, it is clear that I have no way of paying for any of it. I have a total of $2.84 in coins. My bill is in excess of $300. “Can I use my ATM card?”  My cashier is patient but clear as day in her response:” Not unless it’s a debit card.” Since I don’t know the difference, I assume that the bank card in my hand is not a debit card.

I feel the lady behind me breathing loudly. She has a jumbo pack of socks and a gallon size jar of artichokes.

“There is an ATM machine at the front of the store.”  She is definitely rolling her eyes at me.

I literally sprint through the entire store with all eyes on me.

Breathless, I swipe my card, I don’t know my PIN number. I try two different ones only to give in and call to ask for help. After he berates me a while about my uncanny ability to retain only useless information, Chris spits out the four digits.

I swipe, punch keys and wait. $3.75 charge. Yes, ok. I try to withdraw $400. No.  There is a $200 maximum.  I panic at the thought of putting back HALF of my cart. Finally, it occurs to me, the ATM machine is NOT smarter than me. I start the process again. I approve another $3.75 charge. I clutch my wad of $400 cash, which cost me almost exactly what I saved by shopping in this God forsaken store, and run back to my lane.

The lady with the artichokes has moved to another line. I can’t help but wonder: did she come in for socks and realize she needed artichokes or the other way around??

I am damp with sweat. My heart is beating in my throat. My ears are ringing.  As I count out the cash, I silently swear to always keep money in my wallet. I have never been this embarassed. This moment could not possibly get any worse.

Oh. But it could.

I try to take my receipt without catching the eye of my cashier. But she is staring at me.  Then it comes.

“Are you Dr. Meyer?” she asks sweetly. “You’re my doctor!” she’s astonished to see me in this setting. I imagine her dinner time conversation later tonight. “Honey, you will never guess who I checked out at work today…Dr. Meyer. OUR doctor. Do you know that she does not have a credit card? And she has a thing for wasp spray…”




  1. Cathi Thompson says:

    I absolutely LOVE your stories, they always have me laughing hysterically but also have an interesting slant that I always can relate too!! You’re like a Rock Star, once they notice you, you’re in the tabloids

  2. Susan Cozad says:

    Ditto, to the response above! I can always count on you for a laugh!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is so funny and a great story. Sounds like something that would happen to me–oh yeah it did happen but at the grocery store. Had to have them hold my groceries while I went to an ATM. So embarrassing!

  4. robert (mark) petherbridge says:

    Christine, you r to funny

  5. I am so glad everyone found this story funny..it is a wee small comfort to me.

  6. mary cahill says:

    I love what you have to say. You are so down to earth and really funny.

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