pick up a dime?

Someone has been scattering pennies in public.  For years cash registers have had a penny tray nearby.  We all know the reason.  It’s kind of like free pennies.  It’s not unusual to see nickels and dimes in the tray.  But now the penny tray has spread to the sidewalk.  I’m almost never out for a walk when I don’t see a penny street-side.  Not even the homeless or panhandlers pick them up.  By themselves, they are worthless.  Unless accumulated, even nickels and dimes are worthless.  There is little you can buy for a quarter.  Really, why do we bother with coins?  The US tried several times to get us to use one-dollar coins, but compared to paper, they’ve been widely unpopular.

After decades of keeping pennies around, the only purpose they serve is so retailers can justify fooling us with 99 cent pricing, and for tax rate calculations.  They do nothing but take up space and weight in our pockets and coin purses.  Hence, they are a common sight discarded on city sidewalks.

Last year I remember seeing a guy go slightly out of his way to pick up two pennies.  They were on either side of a lamp post so it wasn’t like he swooped them up in stride.  He didn’t look like he needed them, which is the reason the memory stuck.  Otherwise, I’ve not seen anyone else stoop down to make himself a penny richer.

Try not accepting pennies at the register and it can confuse some cashiers, especially those where there is no penny tray.  It’s better to just accept the change.  But once you have pennies in your pocket, it doesn’t make sense to throw them away.  I’ve pitched small coins of almost no value in other countries on the street, so maybe it’s foreigners who are littering our streets with pennies.

Nickels haven’t made it to the street with any regularity yet.  One coin that’s worth five is not as easily discarded.  What’s odd though is that I’ve been seeing dimes lately.  Maybe it’s because they look like pennies and relatively the same size.  Since dimes are mixed metal, from the side they might even look like a penny, (except for the ridges).  It may be that foreigners haven’t figured out the dime yet.

I try to ditch pennies whenever convenient, but I can’t bring myself to throw them away. It’s a challenge keeping them out of my pocket.  And it doesn’t make sense why I would not pitch a penny but I’d discard the equivalent of a foreign penny.  At the same time, I’ve realized that while stooping over to pick up a penny on the street is not happening, I don’t hesitate bending down for a dime.  Ten for one evokes and an immediate value effort.  But if I’m casually finding dimes, is it a fluke or have they also made their way from the penny tray to the street?

It doesn’t feel right snubbing a dime, but I may be in the minority.  Perhaps I’ll conduct a non-scientific study asking the question: Would you pick up a dime?

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