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.