change? got any change??

An interesting phenomenon occurred the other day at my local Sheetz gas station.

No, gas prices aren't falling.

During the course of my day I occasionally forget to eat food.  Hunger pangs kicked in around 1:30 a.m., so I headed over to Sheetz to buy a pre-made sandwich.  As I was paying at the counter, I noticed something peculiar about the penny tray – someone had left a lot of change in it.  And I’m talking more than just pennies: there was at least a dollar’s worth of quarters, nickels and dimes.  So I took it.  All of it.

Now here’s the interesting part.  It’s not like I took the money because I was short on change for my purchase.  I took it, you know, just to keep.  But then the lady at the counter saw me and gave me a look of disgust.  She furrowed her brow, confused and horrified.  She actually gave me a shitty look because I took free money.

This situation was fascinating to me for several reasons.  First, how do you become appalled at someone for taking free money?  It’s free, dammit!  And secondly, what kind of society are we living in where a handful of change is virtually worthless?  I can understand a bunch of pennies.  Pennies suck.  They are a nuisance and they can’t buy you shit – that’s why the penny tray is there.  But there was so much change in that tray.  The person who left it could have bought a sizable candy bar.

...or perhaps a stylish mustache.

I read today that Canada will stop minting pennies by the end of this year.  Could it be that in this age of electronic commerce and online banking people have forgotten the worth of physical currency?  Hell, I use my debit card so often my change jar has been dry for years.  And will kids growing up today even know the purpose of pennies, nickels and quarters?  Maybe the person who left that change was some punk kid who didn’t want loose metal scraps scuffing up his iPhone.

"They used to be made of silver, I tells ya. Silver!"

So until every pop machine and parking meter on the planet can connect to my Paypal account, I’ll always be holding onto spare change – or at least until I figure out how to hack into my apartment’s washer and dryer for free.

The devil itself.


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