Monday, September 12, 2005

Quick Change Artist

Is it just me, or do other people hoard change as well? You know how it is. Every time you have a choice between paying out exact change and giving a higher denomination bill you always think - let me use the 20, that way I'll get change back and that's always useful. You never know when you may need it. Why use change when you don't have to?

The trouble with this, of course, is that you end up collecting change on 5,634 different occassions for every one time you actually run into a situation when you need to have exact change. This means that the change just keeps collecting in your wallet, causing it to swell like a pregnant seal. Today, for instance, I have 22 dollar bills in my pocket. I feel like a stripper. I also have 17 dimes and 12 quarters (I don't actually carry the quarters around - I keep them on my table to use for laundry). It would be easier to just carry a sixgun.

And yet, when the time comes to make a payment of, say, $ 2.28, will I gratefully unload the change I have? No! I will hand over a twenty and watch greedily as the woman on the counter counts out my one ten dollar note, seven one dollar notes, two quarters, two dimes and two cents (oh boy! cents!). Sigh! Pretty soon I'm going to have to give up my wallet and start carrying around a laundry bag.

On the bright side, of course, this means that I'm always well-prepared. If I get kidnapped someday and the kidnappers want two thousand unmarked bills in ransom, all I have to do is pull out my wallet. If there's a sudden emergency and the only way out is to buy a ticket on the NJ Transit train to New York using only one dimes (it's a $30 fare), I'll be the only person to get out of the city alive. Want to know if the average number of heads in a a repeated experiment of 100 coin tosses is actually 50? I'm your man.

Not that all this change will ever come in useful in an actual REAL LIFE situation, of course. If I ever manage to bring myself to make the terrible emotional sacrifice of actually using some of my change, I'll invariably find that I'm just a little short of the exact amount, and will be able to whip out my credit card / a higher denomination bill in relief. Thinking, "See, this way I get a little bit more change so that the next time I have to do this I'll have the exact amount and can pay it out". This never happens, of course. Instead I end up collecting large jars of change that just sit on my windowsill, gathering dust. If a meteor strikes Earth tomorrow and all of the Western world is buried under cosmic dust, then archaeologists a thousand years from now will dig up my room and conclude that humans in our age were yet to discover paper money. And it'll all be my fault.

On the plus side: if, having made this mind-numbing discovery, the archaeologists decide to stop off at their local deli for a sub, they'll have the exact change to pay for it. In a currency that hasn't been used for an entire millennia maybe, but still exact change. And that's ALWAYS good to have.


meditativerose said...

umm ... good to know the many other uses of hoarding change, but you need only one coin for a 100 tosses, no?

Falstaff said...

Well, maybe, but why let that get into the way of a good line. Also not necessarily:

a) If you're doing this for academic research (and why else would you be doing it) you probably want to use multiple coins just to avoid being accused of having a biased coin at the end

b) It could be so much more fun to throw all hundred coins at the same time - plus less effort as well.

c) If your hypothesis were (say) that throwing one hundred coins once is not equal to throwing one coin a hundred times (how do you know it is? have you checked?) then you might need a hundred coins.

Neela said...

I love change! (the only thing that is constant etc..)

So you put it all in an Aquafina bottle (the small ones that is, the Aquafina miraculously doesn't take the quarters that are needed for laundry ,and I don't know if this works with, say Poland Springs do you think bottle necks are standardized - read in a magazine the other day that chequebooks are - 6 inches apparently). Anyway, you watch it in growing fascinating as it rapidly fills up. At that point you have two options:

1. Use this Aquafina bottle as a free-weight.

2. Lug it all to Commerce Bank, pile it into their coin changer, try and guess to the correct 1.99 and win a prize (haven't won one yet, but am convinced its onlya matter of time) and take your 27.30 from the cashier and (a) donate it to charity (b) save it up for 30 years till you get 78000 dollars and retire the way Suze Orman yells at you to do (c) spend it at Starbucks. The probability of (c) is about 99.78%.


btw, if you have quarters you're not using, can you lend me some?

Falstaff said...

Neela: Wow! You've spent a lot of time thinking about this, haven't you? I bow to your superior expertise.

Tempted to make ones about how different companies have different bottlenecks, but shall desist!

The Commerce bank idea is a good one, but I'm too lazy to put in that kind of effort. HOw about I give my coins to you and you take them to the bank and buy me coffee afterwards?

Oh, and sorry, but I have a no quarter asked, no quarter given policy. (heh!)

Neela said...

hmmm..and then you will write an eloquent post about the definition of friendship. Which if I recall correctly was about getting unattractive women to buy you food and drink.

I'll have to think deeply about what kind of relationship this constitutes. While I'm thinking, you could start by dumping your coins into Aquafina bottles.


Btw, have discovered a new pursuit. You get music scores from the library and follow the music to the scores. Just did the Mozart Concerto in D minor with that. Great fun. Kind of like reading. Only screwy thing is that when you actually start reading a book, you start reading it like a music score.. which means you skip every four lines and look to see where the treble and bass clefs are linked together.

Falstaff said...

Neela: Ya, ya, fine. Rub in the fact that you can read music, why don't you. Just for that I insist you buy me a bottle of Aquafina (I'm too poor to afford mineral water and all) - purely in the name of friendship, of course.

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