I paid for a sandwich at a drive-through this week. It was $5.99.
I handed three toonies through the window.
At this point, there is always an awkward moment. Does one wait for a penny’s change? Does one say, “Keep the change” and risk a “Gee, thanks, big spender” from the teenager at the till?
Or do you hit the gas before it becomes an issue?
Mostly, I’m able to avoid the problem by keeping a $10 bill handy for just such occasions. There’s no shame in waiting for two toonies and a penny in change. It all goes into the ash tray — the toonies add up and you use them the next time.
Unfortunately, the pennies add up, too. That sigh you just heard was the fast-food till tender after she’s been handed a fist full of pennies.
Counting pennies does not come naturally to someone who has been educated with a built-in i-pad calculator and trained on a pre-programmed cash register.
Meanwhile, I feel the eyes of the customer in the car behind me burning into the back of my head like a laser, for it is a capital offence to slow the lineup.
Everywhere, there are pennies. Each day I return home with pockets full of metal coinage, some of which goes on the kitchen counter, some in the change bowl, some in various drawers, and the rest simply disappears into thin air (although I caught Syd poking around in my change bowl Friday morning, ignoring anything smaller than a toonie — this might be a clue).
Every once in awhile we do a complete sweep of the place and dump all the change into a bucket. Eventually, the quarters get used up on parking meters, the bigger coins on staples. The problem then becomes what to do with a bucket full of pennies.
It’s estimated that it costs 1.6 cents to make a penny. I’ve never seen a study on the labour cost involved in taking a bucket of pennies and putting them all into those little paper rollers, but I do know it’s not worth it.
The announcement Thursday that the Canadian penny is on the way out has, of course, provided an opportunity to employ every trite penny saying known to man or woman.
People are lamenting the fact they’ll no longer be able to offer “a penny for your thoughts,” or be secure in the knowledge that “a penny saved is a penny earned.”
When we refer to someone as a “bad penny” he or she won’t know it’s an insult. There will be no more “pretty pennies,” and we can no longer chastise the government for pinching pennies or being “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
No more penny ante schemes. When the penny finally drops, what will it matter?
None of us, not a single one, will have a penny to our name.
What’s next, the loonie — the very symbol of all things Canadian? The toonie? Where does it end, rounding everything to the nearest five dollars?
No, when you count the pluses and minuses, there’s more bad than good in this. And that cashier I gave the three toonies to the other day? She didn’t even offer me my penny’s change. So I just drove away.
If I had a nickel for every time that’s happened….