Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Two Cents


I'm keeping a few pennies in my pocket from now on. I usually put them in a jar to be rolled up later. Sometimes I just drop them in the small container that many grocery clerks keep near their register when someone's total ends in an odd number. But yesterday, amid the chaos in my local Whole Foods store, my pennies bought a wonderful moment.
I'm a writer; that means I listen to people's conversations, look at them (sometimes too long for comfort) cross some borders. While checking out, a cheerful twenty something in front of me was concerned about having enough money for the few items she had. When she requested the clerk to put her things in a small plastic bookstore bag she was holding, she was reminded that the 5 cents credit for providing her own bag could be donated to a preselected charity or put towards her total. The bright-eyed redhead said, " Use it for my total then I' will have exactly one penny to my name." I reached in my pocket and found two copper coins. "Here," I said, now you have 3 cents." She smiled, laughed, and took the pennies. I loved that she took my two cents. We silently agreed that no one should have just a penny to their name. I'm sure she probably went to a nearby ATM and reloaded for the remainder of the day, but the fact that she did not politely decline my whimsical offer was especially gratifying. Had I offered paper money, or paid her small total, this little interaction would no doubt have been interpreted quite differently. Most people would have, no doubt, preferred that I keep my two cents out of their business. I am delighted that my brief encounter was not with most people.

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