His hand reached into the center console, past the collection of old cables, receipts, and an empty CD case. The larger coins had shifted to the bottom but he soon found a small stash of quarters. Picking through the lint and pennies he began to tally the amount.
Twenty five, fifty, one twenty-five…
It was lunchtime on a scorching Tuesday afternoon. He had just finished his morning shift at the print shop and was praying he wouldn’t be called in for the night shift as well. Once a week he would scrape up his odd change in order to have something hot to eat after work. His favorite place to go was the old Taco Bell down the street. The place hadn’t been remodeled since the 80’s and the front still had the Spanish mission shape with brown faded sign out front. It may have been old but they still had a drive thru, which is where he was now, counting the spare change in his sun-bleached Honda Civic.
Four bucks was all it took to get a beef burrito at lunch and between the heat and the broken A/C in his car it would still be warm by the time he got back to his apartment. With his change in hand, wishing he had the extra few cents to get a $5 box, the car ahead of him moved up and he turned down his radio.
“Thank you for choosing Taco Bell. What can I get you today?”
“Uh yeah, I’d like a beef burrito supreme with no sour cream.”
“OK, anything else?”
“No, that’s all.”
“And you wanted no sour cream on that burrito, right?”
“OK then, that will be $3.94.”
Putting the car back in first he inched forward towards the window. He turned the radio back up, some politician from the city was confused as to why businesses were closing on streets where vehicles were banned. The woman went on for five whole minutes about how selfish people were for not moving closer to work. The cracked leather seats scratched his legs as he shifted, the A/C hadn’t worked in years and each open window was like an open oven door. Moments later the car in front of him drove off.
The drive thru window slid open as he pulled up to it. A young man in a black embroidered baseball cap leaned over the aluminum drive thru window frame. “That will be $3.94.” He said, extending an empty hand.
“Hope change is OK.”
The young man cupped his hands to accept the mass of coins, “Yeah dude, it’s fine.” He said, moving to the register to distribute the coins in their rightful trays. An older woman in an embroidered button down shirt and clip on tie came up to the window with the brown paper bag.
“Yes, thank you.” He said, taking the bag and carefully placing it down in the passenger seat.
Traffic at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday anywhere else would have been a breeze, but every other factory in the area also let out at two, making the twenty minute drive to his apartment take almost an hour. He pulled up to the security gate and swiped his key card. The janky old gate slowly crawled open, leaving just enough room for his car to fit through.
He parked in the shade and rolled up his windows. The hike up the three flights of stairs to his apartment burned his legs, his feet aching from standing at work all night. Struggling to get his keys out of his pocket while holding his food and backpack he dropped a few tan napkins. Once through the door he tossed the bag on the coffee table and switched on the TV and Xbox. Sitting down on his small couch he carefully unwrapped the paper from the top of one the burritos and took a bite. A friend of his sent him a party invite to play a game. He took another bite and put on his headset so they could voice chat during the match. While waiting for the group to queue he took a third bite only to be met with almost no resistance from the center of the burrito and a mouthful of warm sour cream.