It was wicked windy and cold in Boston last night. 30 kph (19mph) winds and -19C (-2F). I As I pottered along to the T (subway) station after my workout I was aware only of the wind and of the intensifying growls of hunger coming from the depths of my stomach. Unconsciously I rubbed the last $20 bill from my Christmas present money in my pocket between my fingers. I could buy myself a snack — a dinner even — and break my budget without it showing up in my weekly budgeting: a technical loophole. It defeated my goal of applying self-discipline and curbing my spending habits, however. I knew I was cheating.
I was still thirty feel away when I heard the train before I saw it. I had to make it to make the 7:10 PM bus home from Riverside so I started to run…or waddle really because I looked like a massive, unweildy purple marshmallow in my heavy winter hiking jacket and my backpack stuffed with my now dirty gym clothes and running shoes and laptop. I was still ten feet away when the train arrived and doors opened. People were packed into it like sardines in a tin, and somehow, more people piled in. I would make it but I had not a second extra to spare. I waddled faster and started pulling out my train pass from my jacket pocket at the same time.
The $20 bill had been swaddling my T-pass. As I yanked it out, the money came out with it. It happened in an instant but I felt I watched it in slow motion: the howling wind swept the $20 bill in a rising spiral over my head. The seventh US president, Andrew Jackson, the face on $20 dollar bills, and I locked eyes for a second. Even as I flung my hand forward — fingers outstretched — to grab it, it flew away from me along the station. There was a momentary break in the wind and I I watched it fall and come to rest next to a red minivan parked outside the station twenty feet away. I dashed towards it as fast as I could. It was pointless, however. In another split second, a new gush of wind lifted the bill back up and off it was gone…hurled into the darkness of the night.
I remained transfixed by my bad luck. I was cheating my budget but fate cheated me instead. I don’t know how long I stood there. It could have been a minute, five minutes or even ten. I was brought back by a loud angry rumble from deep inside me. The train was gone and I was quite alone on the platform as I waited for the next one, disconsolate and unhappy.
Now there is no buffer of secret money left. Now it’s just me vs temptation and/or hunger.