The lady who was mad because a) her Golden Age pass didn’t waive the parking fee and b) the $5 she paid for parking didn’t get her a trail guide returned to the parking lot a week and a day later. I recognized the expression of displeasure and the 80s-era glasses on her face immediately, but even though she snapped, I’m back! when I approached her car, I acted as if I’d never seen her before. I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of being memorable.
The comment card I’d giver her the week before was lying on her dashboard, so I guess she hadn’t been upset enough to dash off her thoughts and drop it in a mailbox right away. She’d acted as if not getting a trail guide was the most important event of her day, so I was surprised to see the comment card casually lying upon her otherwise pristine dash.
The first time I encountered the grumpy lady, a young woman had been with her. The young woman had spoken nary a word while the older woman complained. This time the grumpy lady had two passengers, both of whom remained silent.
After snapping I’m back, the grumpy woman thrust a $20 bill at me. I accepted it. I handed her the day pass, then proceeded to get her change.
A lot of people pay their parking fee with $1 bills. If I don’t give those $1 bills people who pay with $20 bills, my little plastic accordion file ends up bulging, and at the end of the day, I might have 50 or 100 dollar bills to count. If I’ve accumulated a lot of ones, I’ll sometimes give one person $15 change in ones, especially if that person’s pissed me off. Sometimes people make snide remarks when I hand over a bunch of singles, but I figure money’s money and if they don’t want a bunch of ones, why do they expect me to want them? I wouldn’t say it aloud, but my attitude about change is you get what I give you and quit complaining.
So when it came time to give the grumpy woman her change, I decided to get rid of some ones. I gave her ten singles (because I didn’t have fifteen) and a $5 bill, but she wasn’t happy about all the ones.
Don’t you have many $5 bills, she demanded.
Not too many, I said. People have been giving me twenties today. I’ve been having to make a lot of change.
It was the truth. The trend on Fridays is $20 bills. I guess people hit the ATM at the beginning of the weekend and the machine spits out twenties. It was early in the day, and I had ten singles and maybe $25 in fives. Someone was going to end up with the ones anyway. Why not this nag?
What do you do when you run out of change? she wanted to know.
First of all, it’s none of her business what I do when I run out of change. But saying none of your business would have seemed rude and sketchy.
Secondly, what I do when I run out of change depends on the situation. If my co-worker is in the parking lot when I run out, I can ask him to change a twenty, or I can ask him to handle things while I go to the van and get change from my money bag. However, on Fridays, once I’ve done my cash out, I don’t have any smaller bills in the van. Sometimes if I can’t make change, I’ll tell people to see me after they walk the trail, by which time I may have smaller bills. Sometimes if people have a couple of ones and a twenty and I can’t change the twenty, I’ll just take the ones. And on rare occasions when I’ve had no change, I’ve let drivers park for free. (What else can I do? I can’t shoot $5 bills out of my ass, but OH! how glorious life would be if I could.)
But all of that is a lot to explain to a grumpy woman who seemingly wanted to find fault with everything I did, so I just said, People have to dig a little deeper.
By then she had her day pass and her $15, and she drove off to park.
I ran right over to my co-worker and said, That was the woman… and filled him in. He’d overheard some of our conversation and said about the woman, What a sour person.
Five or ten minutes later, the grumpy woman marched up to where my co-worker and I were sitting while we waited for incoming cars. The woman was carrying a disposable plastic water bottle, and she demanded, Where’s the water spigot? (Not excuse me or could you tell me or please, but with the attitude and tone of voice of You will fulfill my need for water RIGHT NOW!)
My co-worker calmly explained there is no water in the parking lot because the drought has caused the well to run dry. He had to explain the situation to the woman at least twice before she stopped demanding he tell her where the water spigot was. Then she said she guessed she’d have to go to the campground next door to get water. So my co-worker explained there is no water at the campground next door or at my campground down the road. She kept insisting she’d gotten water from the campground next door. My co-worker said it must have been more than three years ago because the campground hadn’t had water for at least that long.
Finally, she marched off and my co-worker made the victory gesture of arm bent at the elbow, hand balled into a fist, arm dropping while whispering, Yes! Usually denying people water is not a cause for celebration, but this woman’s unpleasantness made us want to thwart her.
Quite some time later, my co-worker and I realized we hadn’t seen the woman or her passengers cross the street to the trail, nor had we seen them drive away.
Maybe she’s out divining water, my co-worker said. I got a good laugh from the picture that produced in my head.
Maybe her passengers beat her with sticks and now they’re burying her in the meadow, I offered.
In any case, I was glad she didn’t feel the need to talk to me again.