Pennies deserve more respect

Published 7:45 am Monday, August 27, 2007

By Staff
It was only a penny - a penny for the tax on a pickle at the Ritz Theatre when I was a child. I used to think the lady behind the counter was mean for not letting that penny slide when I was just one cent short.
As an adult, and having been in jobs where I handled money, I realize now why she couldn't let that one penny slide. At the end of the night, she had to make sure there was enough money in the till to cover the items she sold. A penny for this child and then for another could have certainly added up to a few too many pennies when your drawer is coming up short. I'm sure she didn't do the job for fun. She was there to earn money, not give it away.
Pennies are amazing and don't often get the credit they deserve.
A few months ago there was a news story about how the penny should be abandoned and no longer minted by the U.S. government. When my son was about 5 years old, he decided pennies were pretty useless and I caught him on more than one occasion throwing them away. His reasoning was that you couldn't buy anything for a penny, so why keep them.
I remember, as a child all those years ago, being devastated because the price of bubble gum jumped from one penny to two. That meant a few more minutes of digging through the car seats or sofa cushions to come up with enough money for a couple of pieces of bubble gum.
I have seen times when price differences of a penny caused something called a &#8220war” - not with guns or bombs, but with purchases.
I can remember a time when my daddy would drive clear across town, an extra five miles, just to save a penny on a gallon of gas. I can remember gasoline or service stations situated across the street or just down the block from each other would cause a stir by trying to beat the competition's prices - even by a penny.
When today's gasoline prices start to rise or fall, it's amazing how people to react to the change in price by just a penny.
The same is true for the recent sales tax increase in East Brewton. When you consider the whole picture, paying a penny more when you pay sales tax really doesn't add up to a whole lot. I mean really, if your total bill in an East Brewton store used to be $2.16, does $2.18 sound like that much more? Not really, but you'd be surprised how some people feel about that one penny.
Pennies are amazing. I have a collection of them. Some I plan to keep. Some I plan to cash in.
Those pennies turn into dollars that I'll use for other things. Pennies at the theatre will keep a clerk from being broke at the end of a shift. Pennies at the gas station will help to pave a road somewhere. Pennies in the city coffers will help provide fire and police protection, not to mention many other services.
Let's not quibble over pennies. If you find yourself getting to a point where a penny would certainly help things out, I'll let you dig through my car seats if you promise to take out the crayons and gum wrappers as you go.
Lisa Tindell is a news reporter for The Brewton Standard. She can be reached by e-mail at

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