When the group drives up to the small gas station, diner, a store that Al and Mae operate on Route 66, the man first asks for water. They seem to be a family of father, mother, and two young sons. The mother stays in the car. Mae steps into the...
When the group drives up to the small gas station, diner, a store that Al and Mae operate on Route 66, the man first asks for water. They seem to be a family of father, mother, and two young sons. The mother stays in the car. Mae steps into the doorway and allows them to use the hose, which the man first uses to fill the car radiator. The boys are wearing only overalls; they drink water directly from the hose.
He next asks buy a loaf of bread, but Mae says the only bread they have is for making sandwiches (“san-widges”). Their ensuring conversation becomes a negotiation about the terms for buying the bread. The man stresses their need for bread and the scarcity of places to buy it while Mae initially pushes him to buy sandwiches. While he admires the idea of buying the nice hamburgers she mentions, he also stresses their limited finances.
He tells her that they have only a dime for bread, and she says that is not enough because a loaf costs fifteen cents. At this point Al enters the conversation, and Mae and Al argue about selling the bread, which he advocates. When she finally agrees to sell it for a dime, the man pulls out a leather pouch, which obviously contains a lot more money. He is embarrassed by revealing this after having bargained so carefully:
The man took a deep leather pouch from his rear pocket, untied the strings, and spread it open. It was heavy with silver and with greasy bills.
“May soun’ funny to be so tight,” he apologized. “We got a thousan’ miles to go, an’ we don’ know if we’ll make it.”
At the last minute, he also buys two candies for a penny for the boys who have been silently ogling the candies in the glass case.