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    Tuesday's Thoughts From The Front Edge Of A Penny

    “A penny saved is a penny earned,” or so goes the quote by Benjamin Franklin. Oh sure, if you don’t have anything, than a penny is something. But, is it something worth having? For my dad it was because, as it turns out, it was one of the things he collected.

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    There were jars of them tucked away in the basement. Most were shiny, almost like they had been newly minted. I think that’s why he had saved them. Nothing like the intrigue of a shimmering coin; almost like discovering a treasure even though it’s not the pirate treasure we’d love to find.

    Speaking of pennies, I remember my dad had always carried a coin purse in his pocket. It wasn’t a purse in the traditional sense, but rather a coin holder. Oval shaped, made of a heavy plastic and when you squeezed the ends the flaps opened to reveal the coins. I tried to mimic my dad and carry one too, but for some reason it never took. What did stick with me was his use of coins to pay for things. And to this very day I’ll use exact change if I can.

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    Take it or leave it, but I pay for things with cash, that’s just how I roll. Obviously it doesn’t work with large purchases and that’s a whole other issue. With that being said, instead of throwing my spare change into a jar, I find ways of using it. Yet, has anyone become frustrated with the penny? Wouldn’t it be easier to round up or down to the nickel or dime? Sure make balancing a checkbook a heck of a lot easier or is checks a thing of the past?

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    I think it would help cashiers and servers though. For instance, my recent bill at the drive through turned out to be $5.59. I gave the cashier $10.09 expecting to get $4.50 in return. So far so good, that is until I gave him the money. That familiar blank look glazed his eyes and was swiftly replaced with an expression of, “what do I do now?” After quickly coming up with a solution he opened the drawer, hands me $8 and says, “Have a nice day.” Now I’m wearing that blank expression and wondering what I should do.

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    I decided to return the money and simply say that I didn’t want his register to become short. I can tell he’s desperately trying to reason the situation so he says to me, “Oh, I thought I gave you a twenty.” Really? What mental math algorithm had he followed to come up with that solution? Can you imagine if I made the same blasé error on a dose of medication?

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    This experience hasn’t been a onetime thing and I find it happening more and more. Buy a coffee, pay with bills and coins and the cashier goes into a cerebral tailspin. They count the change, recount it and then stare at it as if a solution will magically appear. You’d think that punching the numbers on the register might help, then again who am I to suggest such a solution?

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    And if I don’t get the exact change, should I make a big deal about it or move on? It’s a dilemma I face all too often. Let’s say I’m at a restaurant and my bill comes to $51.77. I plop $60 on the tab, expect to receive $8.23 in return, but instead the server comes back with $8. I’ve yet to say anything about the missing cents, but I sure do leave annoyed over the error.

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    And if a bill comes out to be $9.01 and I hand over $10, why must I be given ninety-nine cents in return? Why can’t I be given the dollar instead?

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    My dad was quick to figure these things out too, so I’m sure he experienced the same kind of frustrations. I often wondered if he said anything or just walked away shaking his head.

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    I do know there were many times when my dad shook his head or hid his exacerbated sigh over things I had done. This was never the more evident when on one summer day we were building a dog house. Teaching me to use a hammer, he held the roofing nail between his thumb and forefinger.

    “Hit it,” he had said.

    “Are you ready?” I eagerly responded.

    “Go ahead, pound the nail.”

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    To the best of my recollection I don’t know what information was zipping across my synapses, but I swung that hammer and spotted his thumb at the last second.

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    You can probably guess what happened next. Never mind the endless string of swear words that were somehow muffled behind his closed lips. I’m fairly certain there was a stretch of time where he was more than ready to be childless.

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    Whether they’re big or small, some of the best memories happen spontaneously. Don’t get me wrong, organization and planning have their place. Yet, life is too organic to try to control. Hopefully as this Father’s Day passes a fond remembrance slips out from that locker deep inside your mind. Perhaps one is created with your own sons or daughters. Or maybe you’ll find a shiny treasure, like a penny, and tuck it away in your own memory jar and hopefully rediscover it later in life. To all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day.

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    I still believe that the majority want to be in this together, let’s not be too close together while we’re all in it.

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