Not since the 1980s have I seen someone actually bend down to pick a single penny from up off the ground. Our one cent denomination, or 1/100 of a dollar, has seen little action since inflation has almost made the coin obsolete and useless. With some people feeling the credit crunch of our souring economy, the copper penny maybe the difference between eating or going without.
I was walking back from a shopping trip at the market last Wednesday when I seen an elderly fellow picking up coins from the edge of the sidewalk not far from the entrance of the store. It was a real shock to me, not because someone was picking up money from off the ground, but that he was taking the pennies–I only saw one penny on the ground. I never thought much about it afterwords until I was filling up at the local gas station. There, a woman who seemed like she had some kind of disability, was searching for coins along the curb by the bus stop. When I seen her bending down to pick up a coin she saw me looking at her. Her head turned back to where she was standing and seemed not to care that I was observing her. I saw her pick up a penny.
Later on that day I took a walk along the road that goes across the river near where I live. There is a pub along the way that was just getting ready to open. As the server opened the doors to post the open sign, then she yelled back inside, “there is another one out here…” and she closed the door. A minute later I saw a man wearing well worn cloths sit up from the bushes and potted plants that decorate the front of the building, and he jumped on his bike and rode off. He rode past me and then stopped in front of the next set of doors. He jumped off from his bike and started searching the ground in front of the doorway. He smiled, then he bent down and picked up a penny.
I am having a hard time coming to grips with this new found observation and discovery of mine. I want to say that this is a byproduct of our failing economy, but I can’t be certain. I know that resources for people of need has taken a back seat to other issues of our society, and that governments are not funding services for disadvantaged people like they did before. I am having a hard time understanding that a coin of so little worth now warrants people to collect them–I mean the time and energy to collect enough of them to buy something with is huge. Do the pennies now count?
Over the years I have been known not to care about the lowly penny. In fact, if one fell out from my pocket, I would not care, and I would keep on walking. I always thought, jokingly, that if you find a penny on the ground it would bring good luck. I even heard that if you find a penny on the ground you are supposed to pick it up, then carry it for a while, then leave it for someone else to find in order to get your “good luck.” Heck, I cannot even count how many times I have thrown the copper coins into water fountains and ponds at shopping malls and parks, believing that I would find my one true love, or get my wish granted. The penny….