See that shiny round thing at the top of the heap? That is a coin. A dime, to be precise. I accidentally came across one in my dresser drawer this morning, reaching around in the dark for my earbuds. It was the first coin I have touched since COVID-19. Heck, it is the first coin I have touched since New Years'. And maybe the New Years before that.
Once upon a time, stretching through a couple of thousand years of history, coins had a purpose. You could collect them in little blue folders. You could use them in vending machines, in arcade games, to pay your tolls. You could even use them to buy things in a store. That was all back in the day. The last time I can recall looking for a couple of quarters was to turn on the air pump at the gas station down the road, the station too low-rent to have a credit card reader installed on the air supply.
Barb still uses coins for one thing. She carries a change purse loaded with quarters for mahjong. That is, she did until we were Covid'd. Now the mahj crowd is all on-line. Paid for electronically, of course.
Stores don't want your coins anymore. Most of them don't even want your cash. That doesn't bother me at all. Instead of twenty-dollar bills from an ATM, my wallet bulges with plastic. I have the credit card that gets me points for travel (ok, not a real valuable reward right now.) I have the card that gets me free checked bags on United Airlines (also a current non-starter.) There is the one that gets me a chance to buy premium concert seats a week before everyone else (tell me quick, what is a concert?) and I have the only credit card that will let you buy toilet paper at my favorite aircraft carrier-sized grocery store, as long as the card reader is at least 6 feet from the cashier. I have a PayPal account too, but never think to use it for any of my online purchases or restaurant deliveries. Venmo and Zelle are still just at the fringe of my consciousness, things to investigate on a future day when I have more time on my hands. Hah!
If you read about coins on your favorite online newspaper, you are probably browsing an article about Bitcoin. I have no understanding of how cryptocurrency operates, but despite the name, I doubt it consists of discs inscribed with "E Pluribus Unum" or "In God We Trust." At the moment one Bitcoin is worth $7012. That would be a pretty big stack of pennies.
With the demise of the coin, I fear we will also lose some of our treasured adages. Gone will be:
- A penny for your thoughts.
- Not worth a plugged nickel.
- Your dime, your dance floor. (Probably already gone. We miss you, Chet Coppock.)
*So what to do with the coins still rumbling around in my drawer, and probably in yours too? I have a suggestion. Count your coins. For each coin send a dollar to one of your favorite charities. (Today I am going to choose Northern Illinois Food Bank.) Send a little less if it is all you can afford. But send something. Make those coins make a difference.
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