Crushing the Opposition, Europeans are Lucky, and Spies Don’t Make Change

Today I got to play lazer tag again–woo hoo!

I’m proud to say that my team won all four rounds (yes!) and that I got the highest score overall (yes!).

Of course, this thrill of victory deflates a little when you take a look at my opponents:

Crowing about winning first place against a pack of nose picking 7-year olds is, frankly, pathetic.


Tomorrow, I’m going to work.  Going to work, as in I’ll get up early (yipes!) and shower and dress before noon, and then drive to a distant locale by a predetermined time.   Just like a grownup!

You may remember that I recently started working for Bridgette, assessing essays.  But that’s not going to work.  That’s working from home.  That’s staying up until midnight, sleeping in until 8:00, eating a leisurely breakfast of ramen noodles, and eventually bathing, dressing and working.

And, honestly, assessing essays isn’t work.  It’s play.  I shouldn’t let Bridgette know how much fun it is, or she might stop giving me money for playing.

Then again, I wouldn’t mind if she continues to pay me in camera gear.  As a thank you for something I helped her with, she bought me some camera stuff.  When we were picking out my thank you gifts, we were messaging each other on Facebook, because why make it easy and call each other?  Why not just send a billion messages back and forth on Facebook and make typos that change the meaning of the sentence, and then type too fast for the other one to respond, so that the responses don’t match the comment above them and nothing makes any sense?

In the middle of messaging each other she wrote, “I’d like to get you a mini tripod.” A couple of minutes later, I heard the faint echos of a gasp coming from far to the northeast.  Immediately after the gasp, these words appeared in my message box from Bridgette “You’ve got a price range over here from 8.99 to $300?????”  All those question marks clued me in to the fact that the gasp I heard was Bridgette falling off her chair 200 miles away in Brooklyn, New York.

Actually, Bridgette, when I checked out the complete range of mini-tripods, it went from $2.42 to $592.95.  The full sized ones range from $9.99 to a hair over $1,700.00.

Camera stuff is expensive.   Really expensive.  It’s if-Darling-Husband-had-known-how-expensive-it-was-before-I-got-hooked,-he’d-have-tried-to-find-a-cheaper-hobby-for-me,-like-collecting-original-Van-Goghs expensive.

So before Bridgette hired me, I was trying to come up with a way to earn a teeny bit of cash to pay for Alex, or a flash or a new lens.

That’s when I remembered Pam.  In addition to her regular job, Pam works at an event called the TotSwap.  It’s held a few times a year in various counties surrounding Baltimore.  People bring the kid toys that they paid full price for, but their little Veruca Salt never touched, and they try to recoup their money by selling them to other overindulging parents at the TotSwap.  Sellers get a cut and the TotSwap gets a cut.

Pam at the Totswap last year. You can see her blurry in the background. It’s the only way she allows me to take her picture.

Pam is really into this.  She offers a service where you can dump all your old kid junk at her house and she’ll go through the hassle of  prepping it for you for a cut of your profit.  She earns about $2000 a year doing this and uses the extra money to pay for trips to Europe.


All those Europeans are so lucky.  They can just pop on over to another country any time they want to.  Another country!  It’s unfathomable.  I remember watching a Torchwood episode (spinoff of Doctor Who) and one of the main characters went to Paris for the weekend.  I thought, “Whoa!  How much money is that character supposed to be getting paid!  Paris for the weekend?  She’s gotta be rich!”  And then I remembered that when you live in England, you can swim to Paris.

In fact, Pam has a coworker who ate breakfast at McDonald’s in Belgium, lunch at McDonald’s in France and dinner at McDonald’s in England.  No, they weren’t really fans of McDonalds.  They just wanted to be able to say that they ate at McDonald’s for all three meals of the day, but in three different countries.

Europeans are so spoiled.

Ok—back to the story:

I have no desire to sort through other people’s junk and price it, but Pam said that if I ever wanted a cashier job at the TotSwap for a couple of days, I could have it.  So, before I got my job with Bridgette, I signed up to cashier. And that’s tomorrow.

I can’t wait.  I’ve been waiting to play with a real live cash register since I was 6 years old.

My only concern is that I’ve never had to make change.  Sometimes you hear the dire warnings, “Check your change.  Those cashiers can’t make change,” and I nod my head and roll my eyes and say, “Cashiers!  Sheesh!”  But secretly I worry, “Check my change?  I don’t know how to make change.”

How many times do you hear that “kids don’t learn math in schools these days” because they “don’t even know how to make change.”  I guess my school was progressive, because back in the 80’s, they never taught us how to make change.

I skipped the Work in Fast Food or Retail rite of passage, and went straight to my super-secret government spy agency job.  We never had to make change at the spy agency.

But I’ve been practicing.  I discovered that you can count up from the sale price, instead of doing tricky subtraction in your head.   But I’m still a little nervous that I’ll be the 39 year old aging Gen X-er who can’t figure out how to make change and everyone will make fun of me.

Wish me luck!


3 thoughts on “Crushing the Opposition, Europeans are Lucky, and Spies Don’t Make Change

  1. I worked in retail for 5 years before I went into admin work and now (dun dun dun) as you so eloquently put it “super-secret government spy agency job” (except that might be exaggerating a little 😉 in my case any ways) and when I was a cashier rather than on the sales floor (I so preferred sales to cashing… ick) I hated making change the most 😦 a lot of the registers would have a feature where if the total was say $5.98 and the person gave you a $10 you could just punch in $10 and the register would tell you the change but some registers didn’t have the function, but then sometimes you would forget to punch it in, or the person would be like HEY I have some change after you already punched it in (and it wouldn’t be exact change because that would be too easy, lol.. ack) so most places I worked when they were training me taught me how to make change, they would always say start with the pennies and count back until you have it… but I hate math so even if it was something like $4.75 and they gave you a $5 – sure that’s 25 cents, but I HATE doing math in my head, it’s one of my absolute least favourite things – so I always tried to get jobs on the sales floor 😉 and then just said oh wait these jobs all pay poor – I am going into administration, bye! Good luck though, hope you have some fun!

    • SMC, I had the best time ever doing that cashiering. I’ll only do this a few times a year, so it was a novelty and it was great. The machine did tell me how much change everyone got. And the scanner made the coolest swoosh noise every time I scanned something.

      It was one of the easiest, most restful days I’ve had in about a decade. Taking care of kids is a lot of work. Scanning stuff with a swooshy scanner is easy. I loved it.

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