chump change

Money is money is what I say, honey. And, loose change is just as good as wadded up dollar bills or crisp tens. Okay, I admit, $10 worth of chump change weighs a lot more than to have a ten-dollar bill but, it is still worth $10.
But the way some people react to $10 in change, I am beginning to think there is something problematic or pathetic about emptying my heavy coin purse to pay for a fast food meal.

I always can write a check but when I have a clutter of coins in my change purse, I count out change instead. At least once, my lunch date stifled a gasp before assuring the clerk that they would be writing a check to pay for their meal.
On another day, mid-afternoon, alone and waiting on car repairs, I bought a dollar burger and paid for it with spare coins. I sat down, unfolded the wrapper and  decided I wanted a dollar soda as well. The same clerk patiently watched as I again counted out coins. A minute later, as I settled into my afternoon snack, the clerk brought me a carton of fries.

 Fries do not top my list of favorite foods. Although I so snitch a few when my husband gets them, I never order them for myself. However, that day, I ate every single one of them – to honor the giver who could not comprehend a person just clearing out a clutter of coins.
Coin clutter bothers me. Years ago we visited in a home with pennies, nickels and the occasional dime on tables, desks, countertops and the floor. With small children in hand, we quietly gathered up the coins into a container. By the time we left, we had secured several dollars worth of loose change in that repository. We later learned that our hosts hit a tight financial moment and welcomed the collection of loose change.

Just as clerks – with rapidly emptying cash drawers – occasionally welcome my piles of pennies, nickels and dimes.
Frequently, when I count out change, I’m spending coins my husband has collected. In recent years, he has tossed spare change into a cup on the head of the bed. I thought nothing of it until he started a second cup of coins. I figured if he didn’t know what to do with loose change, I did. Change works just like dollar bills – it just takes up more space. Whatever the form, I know how to spend cold cash.

My dad used to keep a change jar. Before he went into the nursing home, he would start each week with his wallet loaded with twenty dollar bills.

Every day he went to the local diner for breakfast, paid with a $20, put the bills in his wallet and stuffed the loose change in his pocket, drove around a while, filled up his car, paid with greenbacks, dropped the loose change in his pocket, ate lunch at a greasy spoon, received more change and supper from a fast food place where he accumulated more coins. At the end of the day, he emptied all the quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies into a jar on his dresser. He never wanted to know how much the jar contained. He did not want to bank it. He simply handed it every so often to the closest relative.

When he lived with my sister, a single mom, she used the cash for inexpensive extras. When he visited us, the children loved being the recipients of his loose change jar. After all money is money – even if some do roll their eyes when we pay with chump change.