The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Last night, I noticed that the little coin jar I toss my pennies (only pennies) into was pretty much filled to the brim--and it took only about five years! (Rampant use of plastic over cash sharply reduces the amount of loose coins I collect on an everyday basis, although truthfully it used to take me just as long to compile that copper before the Age of Debit.)

Faced with the task of actually doing something with the contents of this jar now that it was full, I figured I'd find the nearest Coinstar sorting machine. There happens to be one only a couple of miles away, in the nearby Winn-Dixie Store. So this morning, before work, I set out for the store.

When I lifted the jar, I found it was mighty heavy; I'm guessing it was around 10 pounds. It was also densely packed, and when I set the thing in my car's front seat, a big crack appeared in the jar. That made the trip that much more urgent, unless I wanted a pile of pennies scattered all over the vehicle's interior.

On the way, I was trying to guess how much money was in the jar, based solely on the weight of it. I had the sinking feeling that, despite how heavy the thing seemed to be, it would end up being worth something paltry like five bucks--hardly worth the effort, minor as it was. But what the heck, I was already on the way.

So I got to the store, found the machine, and started feeding it. It took forever; I kept overloading it so that it had to slow down to count what was in the till, and then give me the go-ahead to add more. Tedious.

But as the Coinstar tallied up all that change, I was amazed at how many cents I wound up accumulating. Final count: 2,048 pennies! I was amazed; I guess it's hard to gauge how many coins you have from weight alone. I never would have guessed there were that many in there.

The catch: The way Coinstar works, it deducts 8.9 cents for every dollar of change it counts. So instead of $20.48, I ended up with about $18. Not exactly worth a lot of trouble, but decent enough.

Since I was already in a grocery store, I decided to use this minor windfall to get something for the office. As it happens, Winn-Dixie carries Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, so I grabbed a dozen, paid for them and was on my way. I tossed the cracked jar into a trash receptacle on the way out, as it was effectively ruined.

So tonight, I got home, took the couple of pennies I had accumulated during the day, and made my way toward the spot where the penny jar had been. Then I realized: No more jar. So I took an old beer stein off a shelf, put it in the right spot, and tossed the pennies in. Thus we start the next five-year cycle.