De Pennies and Debris

Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you’ll have good luck.
— Anonymous

Yup, that’s my motto. I try to find a penny every day. Some believe if it’s face up, it’s okay to keep. If it’s face down, give it away. I keep them all and so far, so good; I’ve been pretty darned lucky. As we walk each morning, my major amusement, other than getting sullen kids and grumpy walkers we meet to respond to my cherry ‘good morning’, is looking for pennies.

The other day’s haul was pretty awesome … 31¢ in found coins!

The other day’s haul was pretty awesome … 31¢ in found coins!

I usually find at least one penny, sometimes more. I scored a quarter, a nickel and a penny the other day… 31 days worth of luck. Parking lots and bus stops are the best. As people reach into their pockets and pull out keys or bus passes, the change falls out and they don’t notice or just don’t care. After’s just a penny. But as Ben Franklin said “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Considering I’m walking the route anyway, I consider finding a penny quite a bonus.

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Actually, it’s not just pennies I pay close attention to, but all the debris that’s scattered along our 2.5 mile walking route to the club. There’s the usual stuff… broken bottles, various and sundry automobile parts, empty nips, palm fronds, cigarette butts, aluminum beer and soda cans, gum foil, empty cigarette packs, fast food wrappers, disposable baby diapers (yuck!), sticks and stones, pine cones and needles, desiccated cactus pads and once in awhile, there’s something of interest.

Big jewels are hard to find. Gummy jewels are sticky.

Big jewels are hard to find. Gummy jewels are sticky.

Items that elicit interest are those with which we can amuse ourselves by creating possible scenarios for how the items ended up where they are. We’re easily amused early in the morning. Take the jewel I found the other day. Okay, it wasn’t really a jewel. It was a gummy jewel and I got sticky when I tried to pick it up. We figured the flavor was bad, so the owner spit it out on the sidewalk. I had to wait till we got to the gym to wash my hands and in the meantime, I stuck to everything I touched.

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What about the dining room chair with the broken leg placed strategically next to a high wall. Did it fall off the top of a truck during a move? Did someone place it there and attempt to scale the wall, but maybe he/she was too heavy and the leg broke? We’ll never know; we can only imagine.

Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.
— Poor Richard's Almanack - Ben Franklin

Then there was the 8” long bolt lying in the middle of the sidewalk near a crosswalk. Did it hold a major piece of equipment together? Maybe it was used to secure a tailgate and worked its way out. At the same crosswalk, there’s a 43” TV sitting in the ditch that’s been there for months. We assume the owners either lost it off a truck or they bought a new TV and didn’t want to pay the recycle fee to dispose of the old one. This TV has been kicked, stoned and rained upon, but it remains in place.

I felt badly for the very dead red winged blackbird lying in the gutter. He probably collided with a passing car and the car won. Poor guy was obviously flying a bit too low or maybe a strong wind shear blew him off course. More likely he was lured by the maraschino cherry that lay close to his demise site. You miss so much when you drive instead of walk.

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I couldn’t resist picking up the WalMart Best Birthday Ever gift card. I passed it by and then had to retrace my steps to retrieve it. Seems like someone tossed out their used-up gift card or perhaps they lost it and it wasn’t really used up? Maybe there’s a couple of cents left on it. I’ll see next time I go to WalMart. If not, at least I’ll dispose of it properly.

When someone asks you, A penny for your thoughts, and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?
— George Carlin

The government has threatened for years to discontinue the production of pennies because it costs more to produce them than they’re worth. Many countries have done this...Australia, Canada and New Zealand, for instance… and it really does make sense.

 “Picking up a penny from a sidewalk and putting it in your pocket pays less than the Federal minimum wage, if you take more than 4.9 seconds to do it,” wrote New Yorker writer David Owen. Since this was written in 2012, I guess it really doesn’t pay to pick up a penny, except it totally disregards the value of the thrill factor!

I’ll have you know I amassed $2.46 in found U.S. coins during our walking travels last year. This year I’m off to a great start… about 91¢ so far, nearly a third of it found in one day! I’ll have to schedule a trip to a Coinstar soon, but I guess I shouldn’t plan on giving up my day job.