Buzz, buzz.

Denise stirred. Buzz, buzz, the sound continued. A soft, vibrating movement on her side.

She rolled back and forth a couple of times and finally opened her eyes. The buzzing sound continued. She focused for a moment then hit the little tracker resting in her pajama pocket and sat up. Denise wiped the sleep out of her eyes and pulled the tracker out of her pocket. 7 hours and 42 minutes it read.

Hum, she thought to herself. “Well, it is not exactly eight hours of sleep but it’s probably okay,” she mused. After using the bathroom she stepped on the scales; 146 pounds. She frowned. Damn vacation! She was up two pounds. Damn it and she had been working so hard too.

Stepping off the scale she sighed, “Guess that’s the price for fun, huh?” she thought to herself. Going over to her desk, she pulled out the sugar monitor and pricking her finger, put in a little sample of blood. After several seconds it read ‘94’. She smiled. Her blood sugar was doing great! And the new diet plan emphasized low sugar levels to get the weight off. She felt like she was working toward her goal nicely.

In the kitchen, Denise hit the button to start the coffee maker. Regular black, no ‘special’ coffees with sugar additives.  She opened a new box of Special K cereal and retrieved the low-fat milk from the frig and added ½ of a green banana to the cereal and started to eat.

Back at her desk she opened her mail and started to check her bank balances. Hum, the one checking had a $5,000 balance and the other one was really low at $1,000. That vacation again. Whew! Just wiped her out! Her savings had a nice $25,000 balance and her 401k was rocking along very smoothly. Denise felt very proud of herself. As the daughter of an almost welfare mother and humble beginnings, she was doing pretty well for herself.

She had had to fight and fight with the travel agent to get her to take a cash payment for the vacation. 

“But, everyone pays by card,” the woman had said, almost pleading.

Denise had had to ‘counsel’ the woman and coax her into taking the cash and telling her it would be okay. That she was just very uncomfortable using ‘cards’ and this was how she did business. The woman shook her head, mumbling and very reluctantly took the cash over to her boss’s desk and handed it off to him. There was some soft mumbling that went on. The travel agency manager was a chubby little guy, who didn’t do much, as far as Denise could tell, except eat and play computer games all day.

She had been to this same agency before. They had gone through the same song and dance last time. The little fat guy stole a glance her way. She smiled beatifically back at him. She knew what was coming. He heaved himself up from his desk, reluctantly and cautiously approached her.

He smiled first. She smiled back. “Miss Smith,” he ventured, looking down at the agency document in his hand.  She nodded helpfully. “Miss Smith,” he repeated, “we don’t usually work with cash transactions. They can be…….” he searched manfully for the proper words. “they can be difficult to….trace.” He smiled again hoping to hell that she would understand without causing some fuss.

Denise was ready, they had in fact had the same conversation over a year ago; maybe he didn’t remember. She explained, slowly and very carefully how much she understood his position but that she didn’t ‘like’ to use credit cards because of all the interest and banking fees. She understood very well that was how most people did it, but couldn’t they make an exception this time? Besides, they had sold her another ticket just this way over a year ago.

The little fat man looked surprised. “He’s probably surprised he let a woman get the drop on him once before,” she though with a smirk. The man stared at her almost a full minute then shook his head and waved for the girl to continue the transaction and took the wad of cash back to his desk. With a look of almost disgust, he pulled out what looked to be a metal box and stuck the cash in there. This was no doubt going to necessitate an extra trip to the bank. He wasn’t pleased. 

Denise, smiling, completed her trip arrangements to Belize with the girl and got her confirmation paper. She left the agency smiling. She was always happy when she got people to see things her way. She had learned long ago that the banks were the biggest rip off artists in the business with their interest rates and fees on top of fees. “Better in my pocket than in theirs,” she thought to herself.

She got into her little economy car and started the engine. The car was a very uninspiring grey green color that she hated; but what the heck, she had gotten a super discount deal through her brother, the used car salesman, so there were no complaints.

Continued Part II