The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

The Two-Dollar Story

April 10th, 2004 . by Alexander Fisher

Everyone always knew that my former supervisor, Michael Simpson was cheap. There never was a time when I was ever surprised by how cheap he could be. There are many stories I could tell you that would show how far Mike would go to drive me crazy. “The Two-Dollar Story” is just one of them.

The Trip

Late one year, Mike asked me to accompany him to Flint, Michigan. He wanted me to work on the computers there mainly, but there were some other field problems that needed straightened out that the technician there could not fix. I had traveled with Mike before and knew exactly what was going to happen, up to a point.

Usually when traveling with Mike, you must listen to his version of why everyone sucks but him, including how everyone on the road was asleep at the wheel, but him. This time was no different. Mike began to complain about other drivers on the freeway, all of the people who worked for him, and especially the people who worked for me. Occasionally he would start talking about The Beach Boys, which always made him very happy. I would tell him how outdated they were, which really irritated him. Eventually he would begin complaining about more of my people. I would just turn, face the window, and make faces as he spoke. Good thing I wasn’t driving.

We arrived in Flint and proceeded to our office there. Afterwards he drove us to our motel. Although I do suspect that the nightly charge for staying at that motel was probably well below the average in the area, the motel did not seem particularly bad. The one thing I did notice was there was no alarm clock.

Dinner at Farmer Jack’s?

Mike asked me to go to dinner with him that evening. He said he would be ready after he made some phone calls in his room. I went to my room and watched television for about a half-hour. I laid on the bed and watched an entire episode of Gilligan’s Island. By then, Mike still had not finished with his phone calls. I knocked on his door and he finally came out. We went to his car and got in. He asked me where I wanted to eat. I said, “What is there to eat around here?” He told me how good and inexpensive the fried chicken was at the Farmer Jack’s grocery store deli that was over by the mall. I should’ve known then, trouble was brewing. I told him that we should go over by the mall, and then I would decide after I saw what restaurants I could choose from. I later figured he saw this as a weakness in my character, because I could not choose to eat Farmer Jack’s fried chicken without looking around at other restaurants first.

As we came to the road where the shopping centers and restaurants were, I noticed an Applebee’s restaurant on the corner. I said to Mike, “We should go to Applebee’s, I like their food”. He grunted, or did something that sounded like a grunt. Then instead of making the left turn towards Applebee’s, he turned right, towards Farmer Jack’s. We drove down to the Farmer Jack’s parking lot and he turned in. He tried to act like he had made a mistake, drove slowly through the lot, and then slowly exited back to the street. Then he slowly drove back toward Applebee’s. I believe he was hoping that I would say, “Mike, I have come to my senses. Please go back to Farmer Jack’s and let’s buy some fried chicken, now!”

We pulled into the parking lot at Applebee’s and Mike started grumbling about something. He seemed oddly out of place and acted almost nervous, sputtering lines of comments that rarely made sense. We went inside and we sat down at a table. Mike began to look at the menu and started telling me all the things on it that he didn’t like, specifically the baked potatoes. Then he made some deal with the waiter and got a bowl of soup to replace the potato in the meal he had ordered. I looked at the bill after we left the restaurant, and Mike was charged for the soup and the potato, but did not receive the potato. I think he thought he got a good deal, and was sort of proud of it.

Mike complained some more, but after we were there for about ten minutes, a real pretty girl in a short skirt, sat down at the next table, right beside him. Mike was very attracted to her. I could see him watching her as often as he could. He began to have a good time and loosened up just a little. I think he actually enjoyed the food that he had ordered. After we left the restaurant, he cruised around the parking lot to look at some other women that were just entering the restaurant. I thought for a moment that he was in a good mood.

As soon as we left Applebee’s, Mike headed straight for Farmer Jack’s. At first he told me that he was looking for the cheap beer that he usually bought when he was in Flint. He said he could not find the brand, so he bought two or three bottles of cheap wine for his wife. Before we left the store, he led me over to the deli department there, and made me look at the fried chicken. He said how great it tasted and how little he had spent on dinner the last time he came to Flint. I looked at it. It seemed all dried up. It had very little meat on it and it was a very sick pale brown. Mike excitedly asked me what I thought of the chicken. I mumbled something like “Oh…um…it looks…uh…great”. I obviously did not act thrilled enough for him, because everything began to go downhill from there.


Before we arrived at Farmer Jack’s, Mike had asked me if there was anything else that I wanted to do before we went back to the motel. I told him that I did not have any money and needed to go to an ATM machine. I knew he heard me, but he did not respond to what I said. He drove from the Farmer Jack’s store; straight back to the motel, in a direction that I had never been, disregarding what I had said to him earlier about needing money. I think he went the direction that he did to confuse me, hoping that I would forget about going to the ATM.

He pulled into the motel parking lot and parked the car. When I reminded him of what I had asked him to do, he became agitated, restarted the car, and then spun his wheels in the parking lot, as well as burning rubber as we re-entered the roadway. I told him, as I held on, that I thought there was an ATM machine just up the road that belonged to a credit union. He drove me up there rather recklessly. He parked the car and I got out and walked to the ATM. I tried to get some cash, but unfortunately the ATM was out of money or broken. Not wanting to agitate Mike any more than I had already, I chose not to ask him to take me to another ATM somewhere else. That was probably a good decision. He probably would’ve blown a fuse.

When we returned to the motel, about nine o’clock PM, I mentioned to Mike that I still had no money and I would like to have some cash for tonight to get pop and maybe some candy. He begrudgingly opened his wallet and started to fumble with some of the bills inside. At this point I thought that he might part with a five, ten or even a twenty-dollar bill. But what did Mike pull from his wallet? He pulled out two one-dollar bills, two-dollars total. He handed them to me and I took them. I appreciated the loan. I really did. Something was better than nothing. I must say though, that I was a bit under-whelmed by the gesture. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted the two-dollars, thanked him, and went inside. I was able to buy one can of Pepsi with the two-dollars. I had about 50 cents or 60 cents left, but that was not enough to buy anything else, as everything was more than 75 cents. I had no car and there was nothing within a resonable walking distance from the motel. I kind of felt like Gilligan, stranded on that island with no motorcar, not a single luxury.

I Just Want to Go Home…Alone

I got up the next morning, and waited for Mike to come out of his room, in the motel lobby. When he came down, we started off towards the Flint office together. He wanted to stop at a grocery store so he could buy some doughnuts for the office. Luckily I found an ATM machine in the store and got some money out. We went to the office and I finished my work on the computers. I went into the lunchroom and started to get a doughnut. Mike looked at me and proclaimed that the doughnuts were just for the people that worked in the building. I am not sure whether he was kidding or not. He bought at least two-dozen doughnuts and there were only two people in the office besides us. I looked at him and took a doughnut, and walked away. Sometimes you just didn’t know when he was kidding, and I am still not sure if he was or not.

I tried to avoid Mike for the rest of the day and hoped that I could just take another vehicle back home instead of riding back with him. I vowed right there that I would never ride anywhere with him again. Fortunately I was able to convince him to allow me to take a test vehicle back to our home office that I could actually use in the next coming weeks. I asked him if I could take the vehicle in the morning before the doughnut incident. He sulked about it until almost the end of the day. I think by then, he realized I wasn’t talking to him and he felt a very small amount of guilt, maybe. Finally he agreed to let me take the vehicle home with me. What a relief I felt as I now did not have to ride back with him.

Can I Have a Receipt for That?

Approximately one month later, I walked into Mike’s office and told him something. As I turned to walk away, Mike pulled out a note pad with a small yellow post-it note on it. He said, “You remember you still owe me two-dollars don’t you?” He pulled the post-it note off and looked at it and then me. He had written a reminder about the debt on it. To be honest, I had forgotten about the money. It was just two-dollars. It’s not that I did not want to pay Mike back. It wasn’t something that seemed all that important at the time. After the way he had treated me those days in Flint, I am surprised he even asked me for it. I guess he thought it was more important than I did. I laughed and started to walk out the door. I looked at Mike’s administrative assistant and laughed again. I went back into Mike’s office, opened my wallet and gave him two-dollars. Jokingly, I asked him for a receipt.

At this point, I still thought that Mike was joking as well. I thought he would just laugh. (he didn’t) He then took the post-it note that he had the reminder written on, marked it paid, initialed it, and handed it to me. I laughed again. (again, he didn’t) I guess I must have laughed one too many times, because Mike was now obviously getting a little bent out of shape.

You Sweaty Pig!

I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just turned and walked out the door with the receipt. I was still laughing to myself as I walked towards the copier. I decided to make a copy and fax it home so my wife could see it. Mike saw the end of me making the copy. He asked me what I was doing. I was reluctant to say because I thought that that might provoke him further. I walked past him and went to my office.

As soon as I sat down, I looked up and Mike was standing in my doorway. He was saying something about responsibility and trying to link it with something that he thought had just been done to him. I told him, I had forgotten about the money, that I had given him his two-dollars and now did he want me to pay interest too? He had a habit of rambling when he got mad. He began to insult my sweaty underarms. He also described people that used ATM’s as some sort of deviant persons, with sweaty underarms. I think he meant me. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what or who he was insulting. He just rambled on for a while longer. Finally he had had his say and walked out of my office.

I have not spoken to Mike about this incident since. I have told “The Two-dollar Story” several times and felt the need to write it down. It’s too hard to remember all of the pieces of this odyssey. I would almost feel like I was rambling when I would tell it to someone. Sort of like Mike when he got mad.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.