Fables, Humor, Narrative, Quirky

Fables of the 21st: Coin Laundry

Once Upon a Time…

…coin laundry was a rip-off. Scams give you nothing for something while rip-offs give you a service at the cost of too much of something. I regret nothing I did today.

The laundry machines downstairs do not take Canadian quarters. Laundry machines in Michigan spit caribou right back at me (and I can’t use a beaver-nickel to make up the difference). Many of us have accepted this as our lot in life, just as we can do nothing about the price rising from $1.50 to $1.75. Insult to injury, the caribou-quarters came mixed in my rolls of quarters from the bank. The bank sorting machines are less sensitive than a washing machine; it makes me looney.

These are probably not all the Canadian coins in my kombucha bottle…

Right now, a Canadian dollar is worth ~$0.79. If the washers accepted caribou, the company that placed them here would lose 5.25 cents for every coin. That’s more than the difference between what the washer cost two years ago versus today.

I was two quarters short for a complete load of laundry, this morning, so I dumped-out an old kombucha bottle full of coins. I found one more US-quarter and three caribous. In my wallet, I found another caribou to make four. I had three options:

  • Be a normal person: go to the bank and get more quarters
  • Be super cheap: wash my laundry and then hang it to dry
  • Be Mr. Reverse Exiled: try to scam this rip-off using a different foreign currency

The Reverse Exiled Lock-Box…

Recognize any of these? I have an itty-bitty dragon’s hoard in the lock-box inside my desk drawer. I made sure to get my Taybeh beer bottle caps into the shot. A half-shekel is stuck inside one of them…

…has two altoid-tins filled with foreign coins. One tin is entirely from Hong Kong. The other is an amalgam of Euros, Israeli shekels, a few Belizean coins, and “special finds”. I have a few coins from earlier European currencies (which I found on streets and sidewalks) as well as two tokens.

To my surprise, it was a token that made today’s fable possible! Nothing from Europe or Asia had dimensions similar enough to the US-quarter. I don’t know where the mystery token came from; probably from a Chuck-E-Cheese analog, now defunct. It was hazy with oxidation, though not really corroded– just drossy. I couldn’t remember finding it and had no emotional attachment to it. If the washer rejected it, I’d just collect my token from the change-return slot and drive to the bank. I lost nothing if the machine ‘ate it’ without registering it as a quarter.

The Moment of Truth Arrived…

…and there was a caribou abandoned in the washing-machine’s change return slot; now I have five. If I could use all of them, that would make a $1.48 load– I still needed to spend 50 cents US. I can see why the washer/dryer company wouldn’t want Canadian currency slipping through: a load of all caribou would be $1.38 instead of $1.75 (if my calculations are correct).

I did get the last laugh, anyway.

The washer accepted my dummy coin. The exchange rate for mystery tokens to dollars is $0.00

Thus, I got one more $1.50 load ~ I scammed the rip-off for a quarter instead of a nickel. I lost one lock-box oddity in exchange for this story; it was a good deal.

Epilogue: the Other Token

…says “Detroit Department of Transportation”. Again, I don’t remember finding it; it could have been for buses or trams in the time before scan-cards. Even if I don’t live in Detroit, it’s a city in my home-state and I don’t want to wantonly throw a piece of Detroit into the rip-off machines. I returned it to its exotic neighbors inside my lock-box.

Both sides of the Detroit Department of Transportation token, side-by-side

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