Empty Pockets  
Empty Pockets

It was cold, rainy, and the shower was a half mile away over muddy, rocky, hilly, roads. I considered driving but that would mean unplugging Hapless. I’m terrified of electricity and didn’t want to unplug Hapless standing in mud and rain. On this cold blustery day in Rhode Island, I was walking to the shower.

I considered what to wear to the shower and decided on a hot pink terrycloth one-piece romper and water shoes. Walking over, my bare shoulders were freezing but since I was trying to keep the towel dry, I didn’t wrap it around my shoulders. The water shoes had thin soles so the rocks were bruising my feet. I considered going back for better shoes but didn’t want them wet and muddy.

Finally, the shower was in sight. That last 50 feet uphill in the freezing rain seemed like a mile. I’m so wet, I don’t even need a shower anymore, I thought. Visions of the beautiful shower back home, located directly next to the heated bedroom haunted my thoughts. What am I doing here?

Shivering, I entered the bathhouse, anticipating warming up in the shower. Where are the shower knobs? I wondered. Then I spotted a slot for quarters with a sign that said, “One quarter equals 2 minutes.” This $35 a night private campground was charging for a shower. I wasn’t worried. I always brought cards and quarters to the bathhouse, where some of my most interesting conversations have taken place. I reached into the romper pockets, only to find them empty. The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady didn’t have any quarters. My pockets were empty in more ways than one.

I thought about my options. I could walk back to Hapless and get quarters or beg for quarters. Should I get a cup and a cane and stand outside the bathhouse door? There were 4 women and 2 children in the bathhouse. “May I borrow a quarter from someone? I’ll drive it back to your campsite later.”

They looked at me blankly and one started speaking Spanish. I groaned and thought, I should have paid better attention to that 8th grade Spanish class. My pantomiming left much to be desired and either they didn’t understand or they didn’t want to share quarters. In desperation, I asked again and their tiny daughter said timidly, “I have 2 quarters. You can have 1 of them.” I didn’t have the heart to limit her to a 2 minute shower.

I panicked before realizing I had a third option. I could walk to the camp store, which was much closer, and ask to borrow some quarters. Do I have the nerve to go into the store in this wet romper? I wondered. I thought about the walk back to the campsite. It’s funny how your standards change when you’re desperate.

I wasn’t hopeful about the store loaning me money because we’d had a slight altercation the night before. I was polite but had stood my ground. Before choosing that campground, I had called ahead to check on the price and had told them I had a dog. When I arrived, they charged the agreed on $35.

When I got to the campsite, I found that I had to share the electricity box with the camper next door and my cord wouldn’t reach. That meant I needed an adaptor to make the extension cord work for 30 amps. Since I’d had difficulty backing Hapless into the sloping campsite, Belle and I walked the half mile up to the camp store to buy an adapter.

When we arrived, the cashier looked at Belle and said, “You owe me another $10 for your dog.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked, surprised. “I told you I had a dog when I called ahead and you gave me a price. You can’t change it now.”

She looked at my reservation and sure enough, I was right. “Yes, I see here that you said you had a dog. I’ll admit I made a mistake but you still owe me $10.” She gave me her best intimidating glare.

I knew all about intimidating glares and in the corporate world, I used to teach classes about how to respond. I met her look eyeball to eyeball, smiled, and calmly used my Chief Executive Officer voice. “No I don’t. I had another choice for a campground and if I had known about the extra $10, I'd have gone to the other campground. You and I agreed on $35 and I’ve already paid you. I’m here for an adapter.” I won but the mean woman wasn’t happy. Now, I was about to go in humbly asking for quarters and probably wasn’t going to use my Chief Executive Officer voice.

I arrived and thankfully, the mean woman wasn’t there. “I got all the way to the shower, a half mile from my campsite, and I didn’t have quarters. It’s raining and I’m freezing. Can I borrow a couple of quarters? I promise to pay you back,” I babbled to the grinning cashier. Was that a smile or is she laughing at me?

I thought back to man I had given quarters to a couple of days before. All he’d asked was, “Can I have fifty cents?” He offered no other explanation.

My cute answer to him was, “I won’t give you fifty cents but I’ll give you a pocket full of quarters.” I handed him 2 quarters and a Pocket Full of Quarters card. There’s probably a class I need to take on begging where they teach that the less said, the better. I’m not yet good at begging but I’m sure I’ll improve with practice.

“Hold on,” the cashier answered as she went in the other room to ask permission. Oh no, I panicked. Is she going back to ask the mean lady? I don’t know who she asked, but she came back and handed me 4 quarters. I was elated. I could take an 8-minute hot shower. I went back to the shower and put my first quarter in, only to find the water temperature tepid at best. I only used 2 of those quarters.

Walking back, hair dripping, I was colder than ever. The rain was coming down in sheets, apparently the remnants of hurricane Cindy, and I draped the wet towel across my shoulders. On well, they say rain water is good for hair. I guess I should be grateful there’s no lightening. My feet were sore and muddy and I wondered how I was going to get them clean enough to go into the camper.

As I stumbled along that muddy rocky road, I suddenly had a vision of Jesus, walking from town to town. What were His roads like? I wondered. Like me, Jesus probably wore sandals. Were His soles thicker than mine or did the rocks hurt His feet? How often did He walk in the freezing rain? What did He drape over His shoulders to keep Him warm? Surely they didn’t have showers. How did He get clean?

I pictured Jesus washing His disciple’s feet. I looked at my own muddy feet fresh from a shower and imagined what feet must have looked like after days or weeks on the road. I wondered if I would even be willing to wash someone’s feet that looked no worse than mine.

John 13:5-9
Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, " If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." NASU

My attitude on that cold, muddy, wet rocky road changed as I began worshipping. I knew I was called to be doing what I was doing. I felt honored to be on that road, along with Jesus. I jingled the 2 remaining quarters in my romper pocket and knew my pockets were full and overflowing.

When I got back to the camper, I stomped off the mud, turned the heater on high, and warmed up. I looked down to the table and saw the silver cross I carry in my pocket. At the end of my road was a heated camper. At the end of Jesus’ road was a cross.

2 Tim 2:3-4
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. NASU

Rom 8:16-18
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. NASU

When I returned the quarters, I gave the cashier an extra quarter and Pocket Full of Quarters card. I told her about my journey and we laughed over the irony of having to borrow quarters.


Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.

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