How many of you will bend down to pick up a penny on the sidewalk? My 88 year-old mother will do it. She lived through the Great Depression and remembers when a penny had value. She remembers when a loaf of bread cost 8 pennies, and still lives by the philosophy of A penny saved is a penny earned.
I don’t pick up pennies anymore. It has to be a nickel or more to make it worth my while. The penny today has virtually no monetary value at all. None. And with a composition of 95.5% zinc and 2.5% copper, it doesn’t even have any metallurgic value. At my age, I won’t risk hurting my knees or falling over to pick up a coin that has no value.
There was a penny on the floor in front of the bathroom for three days this week. I stepped over that thing a hundred times or more, and so did everyone else in this apartment. Doesn’t anyone see that penny on the floor, I wondered. Why doesn’t someone pick it up already? Just when it was really getting on my nerves, it disappeared.
“Who picked up the penny off the floor upstairs?” I asked.
“I did; why?” my husband said.
“That penny has been sitting there on the floor for three days.”
“So? Did you want it?” he asked.
“No. I don’t want it. I’m just wondering why it took you three days to bend down and finally pick it up?”
“I just saw it now,” he said. “Why didn’t you pick it up? Do you want it?” he asked again, reaching down into his pocket.
“No; I don’t want it.”
“Well that’s good,” he said. “Because now I can’t find it.”
You see? That’s how it is with pennies. Someone is always dropping one or losing one because they have no value and no one cares to keep track of them or bend down to pick them up when they roll away.
I remember the day I tried to pick up some loose change – mostly pennies – that slipped out of my hand and rolled under the counter at the stationery store.
I was wearing my long down-filled puffy coat – the one that wrapped me up like a tight cocoon. I bent over with straight legs, because I was unable to bend my knees in that coat, and stretched my arms to pick up the coins. As the coat tightened around my backside, my body took on the shape of an upside down V and trapped me in that position with no wiggle room to straighten up.
As I teetered there trying to hold my balance with my ass up in the air, unable to move up or down, my fingers dangling just above the floor, I started laughing at the absurdity of being trapped in my own coat. I knew that if I leaned over another inch to grab the coins, I would fall over, head first.
What to do? Leave all those coins behind or fall on my face trying to retrieve them?
The store clerk kept calling, “Next! Who’s next?” Because from his perch above the countertop, he couldn’t see me bent over holding up the line behind me.
“I can’t get up!” I called out with my face buried in my chest. “I’m stuck!”
My mother was a few steps away. She came running over, grabbed me around the waist and pulled me back up to a standing position.
“What happened?” she asked.
“I was trying to pick up the change I dropped, but I got stuck in this tight coat.”
“Did you get it all?” she asked.
“No; just leave it there. They’re just pennies.”
“Are you crazy?” she said, and then she bent down to retrieve the rest of them.
The moral of this story:
It’s good to travel with someone from another generation who still sees the value in a penny.