The Man Who Picks Up Pennies – Redux

An update on a post of August 2, 2012.  As a kid, I lived in the one room attic of a Chicago brownstone on Byron Street.  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 one of four small colorful hard plastic cups.  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 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 (like the wedding rings), I keep.  Some items are verrry 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 (plus some extra) to a charity.  My granddaughters are both now keenly watching for pennies on the street.  Eve found a pair of eyeglasses and a nickel under a table in a restaurant.  Elin has picked up nails found on the street (another penchant of mine).  I’ve told Donna that when I retire, I will simply walk the streets.  And come home with bags full of coins, bills and diamond rings . . . . .  

Run Over

My parents taught me early to keep my eyes open.  And to watch for coins on the street or sidewalk.  In my post of August 2, 2012, I spoke of picking up pennies, nickels, dimes, dollar bills — whatever (cell phones, wallets, fine jewelry – some mighty fine).   I still do. My eyes are glued to the ground.  And yes – I still pick up pennies.  All monetary finds go into a bowl for a year-end charitable donation.  It’s become a game.  Kind’ve a personal challenge.  To see what I can find.         

Every day I catch the train and go downtown to my office. Every day I walk across the train tracks. And as I do, I slow. Looking. I have never put a coin on the railroad tracks (to do so would probably invite a SWAT team invasion). But I do look for those errant “run over” coins that have been placed on the tracks — and lost — by others. Over the years, I have acquired a nice collection.  Nineteen flattened coins to be precise.  A few quarters.  Dimes.  Nickels.  Pennies.  Each one I’m sure has a story.  Just as each lost coin has a story.  The good thing is that if I ever run low on cash, I can always take these run over coins to the bank and trade them in for unscathed versions.  One dollar and thirty-six cents by my count.     

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 . . . .