I was looking through my old papers and came across this little story I wrote 10 years ago. I hope you enjoy it!
by Eugene Huang
Centimes never really gave me a problem until Andi went away and left behind a bag full of them. I swear, they multiply when you’re not looking. I thought I knew how to handle centimes; I thought I knew how to control them: I get some from the store, and use them back in the store. Simple. Boy, was I wrong. I need to take a course in Centime Management. Perhaps they even have a degree program. I could become a Certified Centime Consultant.
One day, I had had enough, and went on a mission to get rid of the centimes. Andi had donated them to me saying, “Here, I don’t know what to do with these. !%$#^@ centimes.” So I ignorantly took them under my charge. My first stop was at a bank. I politely asked if they took centimes. Of course, came the reply. So, I give you some centimes, and you’ll give me two franc coins? Oh no, we don’t do that. You can deposit the centimes, but you can’t exchange them. We don’t carry change. But you can go to a store and use them. You can go to the boulangerie. Ok, thanks, and I walked out because I didn’t have an account at this bank so I couldn’t deposit them. We don’t carry change, I mocked. We don’t carry change. What do you mean, you don’t carry change? You’re a bank!
I decided to do my grocery shopping and use up the centimes that way. I got to the cashier. I asked if I could use a whole lot of centimes and the cashier reluctantly agreed. I made her count out 12 francs worth of centimes. They were piled up in nice little piles on the conveyor belt as the queue grew longer and longer. When she was all done counting them she was not too happy. She was all in a huff and refused to take them because I had bought 50 francs worth of groceries and did not have that many centimes. She took a 50-franc bill from me and muttered under her breath, “boulangerie”, leaving me to collect the pieces of coin and the shattered remains of my dignity from off the conveyor belt as the whole store looked on. It was a hot day to boot. I’m never ever going back to that store.
What is this secret connection between the boulanger and centimes, I mused. Everybody seems to be telling me to go there. The boulanger is my worst enemy! He’s the one who keeps on giving me the centimes whenever I go to buy a baguette. He always give me an evil smile as he dumps my change into my hand. Bonne journee! But I know what he’s thinking. He’s thinking: Heh, heh, heh, you’ll never get rid of those centimes, ever!
I once peeked into the cash register at the boulangerie. It was full of 5 centimes, 10 centimes, 20 centimes. Full, full of them I tell you! It was a centime party. How do THEY get rid of all their centimes? The smarter boulangers all have degrees, I bet. The others must have their consultants. They must wake up some nights sweating from their centime nightmares. Invasion of the Centimes. Return of the Killer Centimes. They must dream about drowning in a slimy centime pit. Boulangers have such stressful working conditions; I’m expecting them to go on strike any day now. Bet you it’ll be a Friday or a Monday. In May. Boulangers of France, Unite!