“I’m sorry sir, but it’s been declined,” the cashier said, and turned the mobile reader around to pull out the credit card, peering at it with the intensity of a jeweler scrutinizing a diamond.
I’d been chatting with Devon while waiting for the transaction to complete. It was one of those moments where the flow of things ground to a sudden halt with a rude bump and banged my forehead on the steering wheel of life. “Excuse me?” I asked.
“Everything appears to be in order, sir, but the reader didn’t want to take it. Perhaps try entering your PIN number again?”
“Personal identification number number,” Devon said, in that matter-of-fact kind of way that parents have when schooling their children. The cashier looked at her with the blankest expression I’d ever seen in a living human being’s eyes. “Personal identification number number,” Devon repeated.
“Don’t mind her,” I said, with a polite smile. “She’s particular about certain things. Shall we try that again, then?” The cashier blinked and reset the reader. I took pains to make sure I entered the number correctly. Moments later there was a beep and the little readout told me that the card was once more declined.
“I’m certain it’s a network error,” the cashier said. “We’re getting those a lot lately. Perhaps you’ve got another card, or cash?”
I should’ve accepted the explanation. I should’ve just reached into my wallet and pulled out an alternate form of payment. There were a lot of different scenarios that would’ve ended in a favorable outcome, and I’ve contemplated all of them at least once a day from the confines of my cell. But no amount of tortured meditation on the ways things should have or could have gone has ever realigned my mistakes of the past.
2014.12.31 – 2023.08.01