The Man Who Picks up Pennies

When I was very young, I remember with clarity that my family didn’t have much money.   I decided to do something about it.  At the age of 4, I sold water in front of my house for a penny.   The water came from a garden hose and was dispensed in small colorful hard plastic cups.  And my father seriously advised that I should pick up any stray pennies (or nickels or dimes) that I might happen across.  My big score was finding a crisply-folded dollar bill lodged under a counter at Sears Roebuck at 6 Corners in Chicago.   I gave it to my mother and she called me her “hero.” 

To this day, I keep my eyes glued to the ground.   I still pick up pennies and dimes and wallets and watches and cell phones and rings and other jewelry and even (once) a one hundred dollar bill that I find laying in public places.  I always repatriate the personal (identifiable) items.  But the few which have no claimants, I keep.  Some items are quite nice. . . . . 

My habit is to put “found” money in my left pocket (my change is in my right) and toss it in a bowl when I get home.   And each year, I donate the proceeds to a charity.  Most recently I gave a whopping $54.00 in change to Feed the Dream – www.feedthedream.org – an organization that works with the desperately poor in Guatemala.  I can’t wait to take my granddaughter out – looking for coins by parking meters.  I will make sure she finds them in abundance . . . .