Thursday, March 26, 2009

one ply toilet paper and bobby pins ...

the tampon dispenser is a white rectangular box. feed a dime into the crank, and the product rolls to an opening the size of a mail slot. yesterday i saw a dime stuck in the corner of the slot, thought "free dime!" and tried to dig it out.

retrieving a tampon is easier. it's circular, so despite the small space, there is something three dimensional to grab. a dime is more difficult: it's small and flat. i took off my ring to make my hand more aerodynamic and still the slot scratched my knuckles.

it's amazing how much time passed -- my hand flailing around. even a bit of pain at having jammed my hand in this space -- before i wondered to myself "what are you freakin' doing? it's a dime."

in my defense: i'd just used that dispenser. sacrificed a dime in exchange for a tampax: regular absorbancy. i can justify my behavior by believing that i was looking at it as a refund. a free tampon is better than a free dime under some circumstances. [although it's not like i could turn around and stuff a tampon into a vending machine as partial payment for a coke].

i briefly considered all the children who had broken their tiny limbs drying to grab a ho-ho from the bottom row of a vending machine. or had been crushed beneath one of those bulky feeders trying to shake free a dangling bag of cool ranch.

finally i eked the dime free and whooped. i took about two steps and twittered my victory, the message as usual went straight to facebook:

Just spent ten minutes digging a free dime out of a tampon dispenser. I realized this was pathetic about 4 minutes into it.

mostly i received strong support for going plus-10 on the day's expenses. but one response sucked the "win" out of my windfall. it came from le leche:

Are you talking about the one that's left in there in case anyone needs it? Shame on you.

i had no idea there existed this sort of woman-to-woman solidarity. this penny next to the cash register at the gas station. this code and this community: we're here to save your granny panties. in case of emergency, use this dime. replace it when you can so that another woman can be spared from macgyvering a sanitary napkin out of one-ply toilet paper and bobby pins.

other people must know this. it's not like an emergency would strike and a lady would stand in front of the dispenser wishing, wishing, wishing she had change for a quarter -- then notice the small dime tucked into the slot. no. you'd have to know it was there.

how did i not know about this? and what other similar luxuries are available to me?

derivatives of "shame" statements hit especially hard. i remember my kindergarten teacher mrs. miller, a mrs. butterworth type, arms folded across her chest saying the words "oh, for shame." shaking her head.

so a half hour later, i put the dime back. so now you know it's there.


feisty said...

wow. there are so many people out there who are better and kinder than me. i had never heard of the 'give a dime' program.

Kristabella said...

I watched this all play out on Twitter.

I have never heard of this rule. I mean, if you could bring a dime, why can't someone else? Or just ask someone next to you in the office if they have an extra tampon.

Whiskeymarie said...

This is why I keep tampons at my desk- to avoid breaking unspoken rules between women.

Back when we went to the laundromat, I used to always leave a quarter in the fancy gumball machine for whatever poor kid had to spend his afternoon folding underpants with their Mom. Had you been in St. Paul 6 months ago, you'd be either +25 cents or be the proud owner of a nice, sugary gumball.
I still leave change in gumball machines.

Clare said...

In what magical world are tampons only a dime? I don't need vending-machine tampons that often, but I could've sworn they were at least a quarter.

Oh, and I've never heard of this "leave a dime" rule, either. What is this, some elaborate "pay-it-forward" kind of tampon-buying system where we're all meant to pay for the tampons of other women? Crazy.

Jodi said...

This rule is news to me, but I kind of love it. It makes the world seem like a kindler, gentler, more pro-woman place.

Also, I am not going to leave quarters in gumball machines from now on.

Mach1 said...

Based on her comment, I think Whiskeymarie might be the nicest person I know.

Tina said...

You have no idea how hard I laughed while reading this!

Don't feel alone in this. I had no idea there was a stashed emergency dime code we're supposed to be following.

There's at least one time that little piece of information would have come in handy.

nanners said...

nearly 7 years in that building and i've never noticed a dime in that machine. i think this might just be la leche's rule.

Anonymous said...

does this rule apply to the dodgy condom machines in the men's room? if so, i might have to switch to rough rider glow in the darks.

Mary said...

Maybe they should start mentioning this when they put all the 4th grade girls in a room to give them "the talk."