Pennies from HELL (in the beginning) or AM I STILL WRITING THIS?? pt. 1
ARRRGH, I HATE CHANGE!! I mean, I REALLY, REALLY HATE IT!! no, not the kind that makes you gasp every time you look at your ever de-evolving face in the mirror or watch as you sprout your first gray pubic hair – however worthy contenders they may be. nope. I’m talking about the shitloads of coins that we are handed almost every time we go to pay for something with a paper bill. handfuls of a nickel here, two dimes there and pennies, always friggin’ pennies! c’mon, admit it – they’re a complete waste of time as far as legal tender goes and they pile the hell up, litter our homes, our streets, our very lives! I mean, LOOSE CHANGE IS EVERYWHERE! while we sit around and watch it devalue more by the day (don’t believe me? go ahead and try to buy something with change!) well okay, at least you can still make a call for a quarter or pump the parking meters with a few, but as for the rest of them – they’re useless! completely and utterly USELESS and I am hereby declaring WAR AGAINST CHANGE! what’s that you say, you think coin money is important? yeah, well if they’re so damn important, why do we always drop them indiscriminately and later unearth them beneath the couch cushions or in old pants pockets or purses, or worse, throw them in the damn laundry?? and seriously, who hasn’t sucked up a dirty, dusty penny or dingy dime with the vacuum cleaner? and don’t lie and say you haven’t because I know you have!!
as modern consumers, we see tons of coins. no matter where I go here, all it takes is a quick glance down on pretty much any street corner here in NYC and the faint, ghostly remains of FDR, Thomas Jefferson, Georgie Washington and old, Honest Abe ‘s faces are frequently staring up at me as if to squeal, “HELLLLLP ME” like the poor scientist who turned himself into THE FLY! sure, most are salvageable for those who enjoy that sort of “found money” rush, always noting out loud if they are “heads up!”. others are smushed to an almost unrecognizable nub by the daily crush of cars, trucks, bike messengers, dog shit and a zillion, filthy-shoed NY’ers trouncing over them. call me a fool, but I can easily say no thanks to padding my pathetic coffers with something worth just a lousy cent, even if its mythology might imply that it’s good luck. I mean, face it, what the hell is so lucky about finding a damn penny?? and of all the coins, the penny is by far THE most worthless of them all, and of course, the one we most often end up with. I will cop to picking up the occasional quarter or rare dime if I happen to spot an abandoned one in a place where I feel safe picking it up without looking like a broke-ass, old cripple, but if it’s a penny – the hell with it – I leave it. besides trying to score good karma points for leaving them there in the hopes that someone truly needy will pick it up (you know, like one of the thousands of 20-something kids here who whine about toiling at unpaid internships for glam jobs while mommy and daddy pay the rent), I DON’T WANT THEM!! I’ve got plenty of ‘em and all of the other damned coins! in fact, that jangly crap collects so fast that many of us empty our change and toss it into littles dishes, on countertops and of course, in the infamous change jar. I believe that everybody has a place where they dump their spare change – and for most of us, it ain’t in a paper coffee cup of a guy on the street with a sign that says, “I’m Hungry”!
first, reasons to not carry change and to dump all of it into something when you get home. well hello, they weigh a damn ton! I travel light when I go out. in a very small bag that I always wear across my chest, it’s strictly the basics: my Metrocard, a credit card, cash, keys and cell phone. that’s it. once I took a tube of lip gloss and a pocket mirror, but it upset my delicate bag balance and I never did it again. plus, I don’t care if you have a separate Hello Kitty coin purse or the best-lined, pants pocket on earth – lugging around coins is a drag! I say get rid of coins and we’ll be a much happier society. but then we’d miss these kinds of ingenious things, wouldn’t we??
(above) – a glorious coin wall sculpture for the Masons. a MUCH better use in my opinion!
and really, who isn’t sick and tired of rummaging around or standing in line behind someone who’s trying to dig up exact change for whatever they’re paying for??
eh, enough of that I’m sure you’re all dying to know where I toss my multitudes of coins when the Trevi Fountain isn’t available. well, I’ll tell ya, I have a bucket. and it’s not just any bucket. oh hell no, it’s the “King” of the spare change collecting universe!
as you can see, in bucket, as in life, the King is big and round enough to hold a whole lotta change. and that’s good because usually about once a year, I find myself short of cash on hand for a decent meal out and I decide to cash it all in. now historically speaking, it usually adds up to only about $60, but this time, I could see that the King’s guts were busting so I knew I was in for a heftier than usual payout.
now being old school, the routine is that I roll ‘em up in their respective coin wrappers, write my bank account number on each roll and take it to my bank a block away. last week, it took me over two damn hours to roll those suckers and I still didn’t get ‘em all done because I ran out of wrappers for the ZILLIONS of pennies that remained in the bucket. oh yeah, and what else did I get? SORE, CRAMPED, totally gnarly, zombie fingers afterwards! ah, to hell with the rest of those miserable one cent pains in my ass, I thought, I’ll just take what was a solid $82 worth of rolled change – a new high for the King Bucket – go do my errands that involved spending money and I’d still have plenty left over for a nice lunch – with wine or cocktail, of course.
the next morning, I realized that I had forgotten to write my account number on each of the rolls and suddenly got a case of the extreme lazies. yes, the extreme lazies – that’s Norma-speak for too damn lazy to take a crappy pen and try to legibly write a bunch of numbers onto already-rolled coins. luckily the lazies coincided with a brilliant, menopausal brain fart – hey, why don’t I just take it all to one of those coin-counting machines – if I can find one! I already knew that neither my bank, nor any of the others in my neighborhood had one. ditto for the grocery stores. no, I don’t live in the damn sticks, I’ve got a slew of ATM-only Chase, Citibank and Bank of America’s nearby, but I guess my ‘hood is one where they can’t afford human beings in the banks – or coin-counting machines. so I go online to see if there were any websites that could tell me where those machines were located locally. I’m looking and looking and coming up blank. okay, maybe this wasn’t shaping up to be a good idea at all, but alas, it was too late because in my self-congratulory giddiness for even thinking it up, I had UN-rolled all of the coins, put them into a giant Ziplock plastic bag and then put that bag into a small, paper Starbucks one with a handle! now I’ve GOTTA find a coin-counting machine or spend another two hours re-rolling it all! uh-uh,NOOOO WAY!
luckily, about two pages into my Google search, an entry popped up in a short list for Manhattan stating that the Coinstar (hell, I didn’t even know they had a name!) nearest me was in a Food Emporium, a higher-end chain grocery store here in town. since I had planned to head down to Union Square anyway, a Food Emporium was right along my route – sweeet! so I threw on clothes, hopped in the Zippymobile, made sure that the incredibly heavy Starbucks bag chock full of change was securely nestled against my chest and I headed out, full of life and happy thoughts about whether it would be a glass of Cabernet or Pinot Noir with lunch. but then…
TO BE CONTINUED in Part 2….