Friday, November 13, 2009

Wrapping Coins by the Dome Light

Teachers are often asked to "volunteer" for activities within their work day. I didn't want to be on the prom committee or the like so I volunteered to oversee the operation of the school store. I funded the purchase of the start up merchandise and over the past three weeks I've been holding on to the cash from the sales to pay myself back. Much of these sales have been paid with coins; consequently, I quickly had over a hundred dollars worth. We had also accummulated about fifteen dollars worth of pennies over the past three or four years at the cart that we run on Pearl Street because I round out the price for people so they don't have to give me pennies, but I accept their pennies when they want to unload them.

I figured it was time to turn all this in. We were due for a grocery run so I thought it would be almost like getting free groceries if I used up the coins. There is a bank location inside the grocery store so I asked if they had a machine to count them or if they could give me rollers. They gave me the rollers. I then went back out to the twenty-two year old Toyota pick up that I use for all my commuting and errands, turned on the dome light and started to sort out the coins and roll them. As people passed by and I felt them glance in I felt a wave of self-consciousness. Did it look like I was down to my last dollars? And they weren't even paper!

I got over it rather quickly; I knew what I was doing. They weren't my last dollars (too early in the month for that!). I started to think though about what the we deal with coins says about us a society. I've worked many years in retail and people always apologize for using something out of the ordinary for payment. If there is a two dollar bill in the mix, a dollar coin, a half dollar, some extra quarters or a hundred dollar bill (although they often seem secretly pleased using one of these) people feel compelled to say their sorry. It's all good, really, businesses need coins to make change with. I always told people at the cart that used coins in their purchase that they were saving me a trip to the bank. High school students don't like pennies; they cull them from their pockets and drop them in the halls. I worked with a teacher who picked up $131.00 in pennies in one year. I think the kids feel insulted by them; they are like little reminders of where they stand in the financial world.

Rolling coins in my car in the supermarket parking lot made me appear to others that my position in the financial world was at the nickel and dime end of the spectrum; it is, really, but that's beside the point. Students in the neighborhood where I teacher are impressed with a wad of bills. I've even heard that the whole baggy falling down pants thing started from the idea that a big roller in the hood would have so much dough in his pockets that it weighed down his pants. I occasionally mention to the kids that now-a-days people with real money don't even have cash; their money is in investments and their immediate funds are accessed by debit cards. Their morning coffee at the drive thru even has to go on a card. Mine, today will be stoically purchased with rolled coppers.

1 comment:

  1. One time I was counting out change to pay for my Dunkin Donuts and came up short....before I could pull out the cash, the worker told me, "That's close enough."

    I heard the pants falling down was from the gangsta influence - they take the belts from people being incarcerated. Urban myth?