G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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My twelve-unit apartment building is equipped with one washing machine and one drier – both which cost $1.50 worth of quarters to operate for one full cycle.
Because of the strictness of the exchange – only quarters can be used and it is not possible to pay for slices of time - quarters cease to be money and become laundry tokens which take on a value different from their face value.
Such was the case when – after searching all of my couch cushions, pockets, kitchen drawers, and car cup holder – I could only scrounge up $1.25 to finish drying my last load. At that point I’m not sure how much I would have offered a stingy neighbor to buy one quarter off of them. Considering that my only alternative was to drive to the car wash a few miles away to pike $5 worth of quarters from their little machine, I probably would have been willing to give up that $5 bill to some entrepreneur who happened to have a quarter lying around just to save the time and gas (hypothetically, assuming he wouldn’t give it to me or that I couldn’t beat him up).
While I’ve become a fan of apartment living (on-call repairmen and the freedom of not being stuck in a long-term obligation) the premium that I now place on quarters is quite taxing. I’m constantly on the quarter grind. When I’m not talking to my girlfriend about my stupid cat it’s all “You got quarters? Where are your quarters? Save that quarter. Go get some quarters. Don’t forget quarters. Hey, that’s a quarter. Guess what I found? A quarter! High five!” It’s really fucked up.