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Selena’s Pennies – Lorena Bowser

A penny saved is a Purchase Naught

It’s been a good run… but I’m wondering: should we get rid of the penny?
Yes! Oh wait...no! Darn! That's a good one. I say "yes" because a penny isn't worth much more than trouble. Here's proof for you: You know all those pennies that pile up over the months in the bottom of your purse?  - Ladies only of course: I don’t know what men do with pennies. Instead of lugging a heavy purse around with me all the time, I decided to save all those pennies in a pretty tin box for my granddaughter, Selena.

I could hardly wait to see her face light up when I gave them to her on our next visit. After counting the pennies together, and stacking them in neat little piles of ten, we were left with just over $4.00. Now I ask you, what can a ten-year-old child buy with $4.00? We went to town to find out.
The first place we went was to the local Dollar Store. After nearly an hour looking at virtually "everything" in the store, Selena decided on a small journal+pen with pink roses on the cover, a stretchy pink book cover, a pink net bath "thing" with matching soap, and a pair of Pink Panther socks (of course).

We hauled our loot to the check-out. The line was long, but no matter: my granddaughter was "tickled pink" with her purchases. We could wait. When it was our turn, she put her treasures on the moving belt, the cashier rang them all up and declared that we owed exactly $3.96. Turned out this was a 99 Cent Store. Here's where I say "no", we should not dispense with the penny.

Those four pennies in change could be had no other way, and Selena was so pleased that she would be getting change back. Proud as could be, she pulled out her pennies and spread them on the counter.
"Oh no," the cashier said. "We don't accept pennies unless they are in rolls." Selena's face fell.
"That's OK," I said, "We'll go to the bank and get some rolls". I asked the cashier to save Selena's purchases and, with one clearly-upset granddaughter, we left the store, pennies in hand.
I tried to cheer Selena up as I drove to the bank, telling her that Big People just don't understand what a penny is worth any more. I kept hearing my mom's voice after the depression telling us over and over: "A penny saved is a penny earned", and "Find a penny, pick it up: All the day you'll have good luck."
At the bank, after waiting in a long line, we reached the teller, Selena put her pennies on the counter and asked for paper rolls. "I'm sorry," was the reply, we don't use them any more."
What!?” I said, ready to pick a fight. I was so set on using those precious pennies. The teller then asked if we wanted to exchange them for dollars. "Of course" I said. What was I thinking! And in short order, Selena was proudly holding four new crisp dollar bills. The light in her face was back on.
Back to the car.

 There sat Selena holding her dollars carefully in her hands, looking at them as if she had just discovered buried treasure. We drove back to the 99 Cent Store, and on the way, I just kept thinking that she was so happy with those new dollar bills, I didn't have the heart to make her spend them. I said: "Selena, you know that if you put those dollars away and save them, the next time I have change, I can get more dollars for you and after a while, you'll have money to buy something even better.

What do you think?"
A big smile was my answer. "OK," I said, "Let's go get your stuff. I'll pay for them this time."
We went back to the 99 Cent Store, waited in line and, when our turn came, I pulled four dollars out of my purse. Selena picked up her bag, and the cashier handed me back four pennies - which went immediately into the bottom of my purse!
I say R.I.P., copper friends. Save face and retire before someone figures out how much (trouble) you’re worth.  I, for one, see no point in paying $X’s + 99 cents and getting a penny in return.  Yes,  let's get rid of pennies. They cause far too much trouble.

Lorena Bowser is a lifetime artist and linguist. She has lived all over the world and really knows how to make the pennies scream. Enjoy more of Lorena's resourcefulness at her website and blog: at See more of Lorena's ARTAZINE articles

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