Friday, May 23, 2014

Pennies From Elsewhere

There are some things that are ineffable. The Holy Trinity comes to mind. So does a bowl of Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries. These are mysteries and pleasures that defy explanation. Into this category I will add finding change on the street. I've been picking up pennies, nickels, dimes and the occasional quarter for years off the sidewalk, in parking lots, and even my own driveway. The place I find coins most often, however, on the city streets. I have access to these bits of money primarily because I ride a bike and when I'm not staring off into the mid-distance to look for intermittent oncoming car, I'm looking down. I do this partly because it's a city street and I am constantly aware of the potential hazards to my inner tubes. The debris that exists on my path to and from work is a constant source of amazement to me: broken glass, a razor blade, and even a syringe from time to time. While dodging those pointy things, I confess I also have my eyes open for shiny things.
For as many years as I have been stooping low to pick up the change from the street, I have wondered from whence it came. Sometimes I make up stories about how it's the extra change that was tossed from a wallet that had just been stolen. What self-respecting bad guy would tell his cronies that he just ripped off "twenty-five dollars and seventeen cents?" Or maybe it's the leftover bits from somebody's tip jar that didn't make it into their pocket at the end of a busy night on the late shift. Since I tend to find a lot of coins, mostly pennies, that appear to have been smashed and scraped, I wonder how they got that way. Are street racers dropping them off in advance of their return to peel out on top of them, spraying the neighborhood with clanky bits of copper? Perhaps these are tributes of some sort, left by mourning gang members as testament to their homies. Maybe it's a mixture of all of these, and I should stop trying to figure it out.
It's a gift from the universe, not unlike that bowl of crunch berries. Of course I don't have to take the time later to count and roll them. It's a mystery.

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