Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pocket Change

As part of their reformed pack-ratting plan, my parents are getting rid of stuff. They've been holding periodic yard sales at their house, offloading some of the things they've bought themselves at yard sales (and estate sales) over the years, very often at a pretty profit (unless you are one of their customers; in that case, you are getting THE BARGAIN OF A LIFETIME!!!). So far this summer, they've netted about $6,000 from their yard sales. (No, that is not a typo.) BTW, I read somewhere that the average household has enough extra clutter in their house that if they held a yard sale, they'd make about $2200. So yes, my parents have made triple that, and in large part, you really can't tell that they've even gotten rid of stuff.

But this was not the story I set out to tell. (it just boggles me, though, so I had to say it.)

Most people have a little dish somewhere where they empty out their pocket change. (BTW, seen that statistic?: If you have money in the bank, in your purse and spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top eight percent of the world’s wealthy.) In my case, periodically I take my spare change and put it in a little tiny jar marked "Rainy Day Fund." (so far I might be able to survive a sun shower.) I do most of my financial stuff by check or debit card; I just don't really have a need for cash (except lunch money during the school year. And allowances).

My parents handle many financial transactions in cash. And while they're getting much, much better about using those funny little places called BANKS, for the longest time they were forgetting to roll their change and bring it in. Plus, who really enjoys rolling change? It sucks. Especially if you have a lot of it. And lemme tell you, tellers don't enjoy large amounts of loose change. I know; I was one. We HATED it. We even turned it away if there was a lot of it and it was unrolled. We'd provide the customer with a bunch of coin rolls and let 'em do it. Or we'd tell them the fee for that (I think it was something insane like $1/roll), which was a pretty good deterrent, too.

Now, of course, they have those WONDERFUL machines that will count your coins for you. They have them in the supermarkets nearby, but they charge around 10% to do it. I'm sorry, I'm cheap. I'll do it myself. (Not that I currently have enough change that would fill a whole roll, but you know...if I ever did.)

BUT. There is a bank nearby that has one of those wonder machines, and they DON'T charge a fee to use it. So the other day my dad starts gathering his loose change, in preparation for bringing it to the bank. He collected it from the top of the bureaus; and the pickle jar beside the bureau; and the pickle jar in the barn; and the two in the barn chamber; and the one in the cellar; and the wooden bucket in the furnace room. Oh, and the sock full of change he used to keep for some reason that I don't quite understand and don't really want to.

So when he finished up, and he could find no more spare change anywhere, he had five pickle jars and a wooden bucket, all full of mixed loose change. (I'm telling you, he had not rolled change in A WHILE.) He lugged it all to the bank, up to the machine, and he started pouring it in. And pouring it. And pouring it. The tellers were agog. They kept asking him what his total was up to. (According to CoinStar, the average household has about $99 worth of loose change.) When he hit $400, they told him they thought that was probably the most any single customer had EVER brought it at once. And he kept pouring.

After AN HOUR AND A HALF, he finally reached the bottom of the pickle jars and the wooden bucket. Then he remembered the sock, which he had also carried to the bank. He untied the knot in the top and emptied that in as well. His grand total of change....SPARE CHANGE.....that they had FOUND AROUND THE HOUSE......


Not a typo. Eighteen hundred and fifty dollars. In pocket change. mk

Note to robbers who are seeking out easy marks: all this money is now in the bank. There is NOTHING LEFT at my parents' house. Please do not rob them thinking they are stashing any more. They aren't. Honestly. You know the signs that some convenience stores have that say: cashier is holding less than $50 and has no access to the safe? It's like that. Don't even bother. mk

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