Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hope and a lot of change.....

Let’s talk about change. Not necessarily hope. Just change.

The kind that collects in the bottom of a woman’s purse or a man’s pockets.

Periodically I empty all of the coins from my wallet into a smaller change purse I carry so that my wallet doesn’t look like a chipmunk preparing for a bad winter. I’m not sure what I’ve gained, though, since all that metal is still weighing my shoulder down. It does seem to help for some reason that I can’t explain, though.

Pennies have their own repository in a ceramic dish in my kitchen. When they start falling out of the dish onto the counter, I gather them up and make a trip to that noisy machine inside the door of my local grocery store that whirs and sorts and counts and then spits out bills at me. Who said a penny has no value?

Here’s the thing I’ve been pondering, though. I’ve noticed that “older” shoppers (certainly older than me) must really hate change. There are many levels to this statement—many don’t react well to new ideas or ways of doing things or they haven’t taken the plastic off their furniture in decades—but let’s focus here on the coins that are the inevitable result of buying things. That kind of change. It’s just going to happen.  You give someone a $5 bill for an item that rings up at $4.27 and boom—there it is. Seventy-three cents to add to the collection in your wallet or pocket.

But seniors must hate the stuff beyond all reason, because the next time they step up to the counter to pay, here’s how it goes. Their purchases total $16.63, but rather than hand over the $10, the $5, and 2 one dollar bills, they start digging in their wallets or pants to come up with exactly sixty-three cents to add to the $16 they have begrudgingly pulled out. (We won’t even discuss the oft-seen option of attempting to ferret out the $1.63 entirely in change. My heart won’t take it.) And heaven forbid they use the $20 bill they have hidden in there. Not going to happen.

In the meantime, we all stand patiently (or not so much) behind them, watching this archaeological dig, as the clock tick-tick-ticks away our perpetually disappearing time. And maddeningly, all this searching sometimes ends with, “Oh, here!” as they toss bills on the counter anyway. They give up the quest, and we all sigh in relief.

Maybe legal tender for those over a certain age should ONLY be paper money. No change allowed at all for them. I’m sure merchants wouldn’t mind, especially if they round up to the next dollar when they see white hair approaching. None of us would mind, either.

That would be a welcome change, wouldn’t it?

We can always hope.

 What I like most about change is that it's a synonym for 'hope.' 
Linda Ellerbee 

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