One day this week, I spotted something glinting in the early morning sun as I drove through the parking garage. It looked like a bright penny, so I checked my rearview mirror to see if anybody was behind me. There wasn’t, so I put the car in park, hopped out, and scampered toward the shining treasure.
Smiling, I snatched up the penny and returned to my car, happy that I hadn’t allowed a one-cent opportunity to pass.
Later that day, I had the chance to share the news of my good fortune with a group of co-workers. Their reactions weren’t as positive as I would have liked. A couple folks mused that we’re only supposed to pick up pennies if they’re on heads. You know, because they allegedly bring good luck.
After they finished speaking, I explained that I don’t believe in luck. But if I did, I continued, I would consider it good luck to find any penny, regardless of whether it showed heads or tails. Or even if it was so used and worn that I could no longer distinguish head from tail.
Anyway, another co-worker then revealed that she tosses pennies into the trash.
Upon hearing this, I believe I lost consciousness. However, I did rebound and tell her that, in the future, she could start tossing pennies to me.
Seriously, although it doesn’t surprise me, I do not understand the general antipathy toward pennies. Whilst standing in checkout lines, I’ve witnessed folks drop change, only to look to the floor, wave, and say, “It’s just a penny.”
When this happens, I always wait for the penny-dismissing customer to leave before retrieving said cent for myself. After all, I am not a thief. For some reason, though, people frequently direct weird stares toward me when they spot me scooping up lost change. It’s like they’ve never seen a grown woman crawling on a floor to pick up a penny. But what am I supposed to do? Walk away from free money? I don’t think so.
Sure, I’ll grant you that a penny doesn’t go far by itself. But if you pair it with only 99 of its friends, plus tax, you can feast on the dollar menu or buy a box of Milk Duds.
And that’s assuming you only find pennies. Take it from me, when you’re down there scrounging around, you also run across nickels and dimes. Pair them with enough of their friends and you can upgrade to a value meal or two boxes of Milk Duds.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.