(I) I had just come from the large, empty office of the graduate student union. I had asked for fifty dollars of my money back, money taken from my paycheck though I was no longer a graduate student. I stood behind the wheezing body of the desktop computer and explained how I felt cheated because the money had been taken without my consent. The steward gazed off, just over the top of my head. We stood in silence until I asked for a pen, hoping to reschedule our uncomfortable stand-off by giving her my phone number. I reached for a pen on the messy desk. In doing so, I knocked over a stack of floppy discs. The pen’s ink was dry. “I’m sorry,” I tried, looking her in the eye, “but fifty dollars is a week’s worth of groceries.” I could hardly bargain a bargainer. I could hardly threaten to take my business elsewhere.
(II) I had just saved ten dollars at the Bread Garden. I was totaling how many free things I’d gotten with my ten dollar coupon, such as a can of beans, a jar of organic peanut butter, and a plastic bag. The plastic bags come free at the Bread Garden, unlike at the co-op where the bags cost $0.05 as a punishment for ruining the environment. Not only this, but the Bread Garden bags are of excellent quality and rarely have holes in them, making them very good candidates for re-use as a garbage bag. This whole transaction left me with an intense feeling of satisfaction. I walked along College Street, kicking the yellow and orange leaves along with my red Italian leather thrift-store flats. Sometimes, playing this game feels like winning!
(III) Today I will send a fax to the internet company to ask for thirty dollars. The internet company either will not or cannot accept the information via email. I will put together a cover sheet that asks for the thirty dollars that was overdrawn from my bank when my bill was accidentally processed through the wrong account. I will dial them up on the ancient gray machine. I will wait. I will look forward to being reunited with my own missing thirty dollars; the reward for my labor the money that had seemed like mine in the first place.