Lame Adventure 431: Why a Penny?

Not that long ago I was in Brooklyn, waiting for the subway to arrive, when I looked down on the platform where I saw a penny.

Look close like I did: it's there.

Look close: it’s there.

Was this my lucky penny?

My lucky penny closer.

My lucky penny closer.

Is this slender disk what it will take to turn my life around? Will it lead to an unfathomable degree of happiness with the soul mate that will desire me forever or, second choice, a solid week of good hair days?

It was dated 1974. This forty-year-old coin’s melt value is more than double its one-cent buying power. As of September 1, 2014, this penny is worth $0.0211471.

Melt-value facts.

Melt-value facts.

In another forty years, it’s conceivable that its value could double again. By 2054, it might even be worth a dime, something to look forward to when I’m 95, shrunken to the size of a walnut and speaking fluent gibberish.

So I picked up this lucky find and slipped it into my pocket. If I needed two more cents to complete a cash transaction for a toothbrush and shower shoes, but I only had this single penny on my person, would it be enough to appease the clerk without my having to toss the purchase on plastic? I could argue that my lucky penny’s value has doubled over time. If accepted, I would be reasonable and would not quibble about forfeiting the extra $0.0011471 or losing the passkey to great sex and good hair. Maybe I should rethink this …

I could put my lucky penny in the change compartment of my wallet. But I have many pressing things on my mind: US Open Tennis, pigeons, lunch. Coinage is not very aforethought. Therefore, it might behoove me to keep my lucky penny separate from my other change. In fact, I could keep it with the three pennies on my writing table and note which one it is.

My Lucky Penny with three wannabe pennies.

Look which penny is the Beyoncé in this quartet.

There are so many finds literally littering the streets of this magnificent metropolis. Do none of them pack a scintilla of magic in the luck department like a penny?

Lucky tooth cleaning implement.

Lucky tooth cleaning implement.

Lucky casino chip in asphalt.

Lucky casino chip embedded in asphalt.

Lucky glove in street.

Lucky glove in street.

Lucky dump of pistachio shells on subway platform.

Lucky dump of pistachio shells on subway platform.

Lucky crushed water bottle.

Lucky crushed water bottle.

Lucky fallen tree branch.

Lucky fallen tree branch.

Lucky peach pit in sidewalk crack.

Lucky peach pit in sidewalk crack.

Lucky coat hanger.

Lucky plastic coat hanger.

Maybe not so lucky parking ticket.

Unlucky parking ticket.

Probably everything in this cluster is landfill-bound crap. The unpaid parking ticket might even bring its unfortunate recipient a special brand of bad luck: a penalty on top of the ticket cost and having to hear Wayne Newton’s Greatest Hits in its entirety while waiting to fight the penalty on top of the ticket cost.

But what is it that makes finding a penny face up in the street lucky? If it’s heads down, leave it there or give it to someone else? Give it to whom? If it’s tainted, why pass on the taint to anyone? Re-gifting is already an epidemic. According to wiseGEEK this is nothing more than superstition and folklore. But they do point out that money symbolizes power, so that is another reason to pocket found change but leave that schnook’s parking ticket in the gutter. That’s toxic.

Pigeon feather on laundromat floor; not lucky.

Pigeon feather on laundromat floor; not lucky. Just ask the pigeon.

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65 responses to “Lame Adventure 431: Why a Penny?

  1. And now you gave us a penny for your thoughts. 🙂 Sorry. It feels like a Monday.

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  2. For fear of further offending the blogging goddesses I won’t forward a photo of what I found on the platform of the eastbound track in South Orange this morning. But it rhymes with chit and it must have been a HUGE dog. But something tells me it wasn’t canine. WTF is wrong with this world?

    Thank for the melt down calculation. A good luck with the penny.

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    • Supposedly stepping in shit brings you good luck. Maybe you should hurry back to that platform. A pigeon once crapped on Milton’s coat. All that brought him was a cleaning bill.

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      • I will be eager to check out whether NJ Transit’s crackerjack crew has it cleaned off by tomorrow. If not I may test out that urban legend. I wonder if it works if you are wearing someone else’s footwear. They say to gain true empathy one must walk a mile in another’s shoes. At a minimum it should get me my own seat on the train.

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  3. That’s an impressive lucky list of photos. But, you failed to mention the most important…Lucky Blue Shoes! Plus, they showed up twice.

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  4. Aside from luck and melt value however, how much would it pay you per hour to pick up that penny?

    In the true spirit of a thought-experiment bolstered by a few seconds of practical measurement, we can find out!

    Drop ten pennies on the floor. Check your watch/phone/computer secondhand timer. Operating at a reasonably fast but practical speed, bend over, pick one up, stand up, put it in your pocket, then repeat the process. I think you’ll find that it takes between two and three seconds per penny, i.e., twenty to thirty cents per minute!

    Let’s go with 25 cents per minute. That’s $2.50 in ten minutes or $15/hour! Almost double minimum wage in most places!

    So have at it Lame! Do that for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for forty years, don’t spend any of it, and you’ll have saved up…. ONE MILLION, TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!

    You called it right: Lucky Penny!

    :>
    MJM

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    • Very industrious suggestion, Michael! I suggest you try this first and get back to us in forty years. Not only will you be a millionaire, you can brag about having said it first on this illustrious site!

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  5. P.S. When you retire you might want to spend some of that on back liniment. Which remedy, oddly enough, seems to appear only 871 times in all of the Googleverse at the moment!

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  6. I pick up all pennies no matter which side up. My power is in knowing I can still bend over to do this at my age, without yet speaking fluent gibberish. Love the lucky blue sneakers. As Susielindau pointed out, thanks for giving us a penny for your thoughts. 🙂

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  7. Found one today, with great hopes…

    Ever,

    R.

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  8. i am one of those people who won’t pick up a face-down penny (except in my home), although I will sometimes flip the penny for the next guy.

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  9. I like your blue shoes, too! Oh, why not pick up a penny when it could be good luck? I didn’t realize you shouldn’t pick it up if it’s heads down. Oh, maybe that’s why I don’t seem to have any luck. Here’s to lucky great sex and/or great hair. Maybe both, huh? Sure! Great sex will improve your hair.

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  10. I cannot fathom how lucky that clothes hanger must be. Wow.

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  11. Finding a penny on the street is less and less likely in Canada as we no longer use them. That’s right – every purchase is rounded up or down so the smallest value coin we use is a nickel. Soon I think we’ll be changing our expression to “a nickle for your thoughts” – though it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. I’m holding out till it’s “a loonie for your thoughts” as for a dollar I might be willing to share a few of my thoughts. For a “toonie” (Canadian $2 coin) I’d give up all my secrets! I saw a building in Montreal with a mosaic made of pennies on the facade. You need a lot to vary the colour value enough for it to be effective, so you’d better just save yours.

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    • Here’s a loonie thought, Terri, now when I get a Canadian penny in my change, I’ll start saving them. I was completely unaware of that factoid about the penny up north. Good thing for the educational component of this site! And you know, you’re taunting me with news about that building in Montreal with the penny mosaic facade. I’m going to Google that.

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  12. My $.02 worth. I’ve always felt the absence of the cent sign on the computer keyboard was ominous … v e r y ominous … Hold on to that penny, V, there may come a day when it brings you much more than good hair and great sex. And keep wearing those blue sneakers! I’m watching the Monfils/Dimitrov match and thinking of you! I’m not sure any of this makes any sense … just wanted to say bonjour. 🙂

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    • Your deux cents are always welcome here, Patricia. I’m trying to stream the Federer-Bautista Agut match on my smart TV which is copping quite an attitude. It seems to be giving me its two cents. Bonjour back mon amie!

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  13. Love the coolio sneaks. I found a dime this evening whilst out for walk about ye old towne. I’ve lost it already. No luck. And so ends the lamest comment, ever.

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    • Glad you dig the sneaks, Audra. They didn’t set me back that many lucky pennies when you buy summer shoes in winter. So try to hang onto that dime the next time you find one. I’ll share my sale secrets. They’re multipurpose: they can also cure insomnia.

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  14. My granddaughter is always finding money. A couple of weeks ago she found a five dollar bill in Walmart’s parking lot. All I’ve ever found there was one of those flosspicks like you did. It was heartening, though, to know there is at least one Walmart shopper in Texas who still has teeth to floss.

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  15. Lucky fallen tree trunk haha, that just made my day 🙂

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  16. Or branch of course, what am I saying.. Imagine it being a trunk

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  17. V.,
    I especially love the shots of the lucky items with your blue sneakers that provide a sense of scale. They add a certain savoir-faire to the post. I can also understand how one might see such things as it is probably a good idea to glance down to the pavement from time-to-time to avoid stepping on less lucky items. Great post, as always. Wry and funny.
    Cathy

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    • Thanks Cathy. I debated shooting my shoes in every shot, but practiced restraint. Lenny Bruce found a shade of blue called Dufy Blue. He would have hotel rooms painted that color when he was on the road. He liked it because the name rhymes with goofy. If the shade of these sneakers was Dufy Blue, I would have bought a case of them. I think its called Lake. Glad you liked the post!

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  18. If you ever read Dear Abby, she often used to talk about pennies from heaven, when someone died recently their loved ones would find a penny somewhere and feel that the newly departed had left it for them.

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  19. My aunt had a “lucky” penny that had been placed on a railroad track and flattened by the train. It was smoothed out to a wafer-thin egg shape. It was very cool. You could try making your penny extra lucky by putting it on the subway tracks… 😛

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  20. Now, you’ve got me scouring Westwood in search of lucky items. Alas, the homeless dive in front of me and grab every one before I can grasp them between my grubby fingers and thumb. Connie has asked that I fetch her a lucky coffee from Starbucks, so I’m off to perform that task. Wish me luck.

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  21. I think the penny and the peach pit go together. The peach pit could be planted and grow a new tree (maybe). Then I stand in complete awe of the bright blue shoes, those are very cool.

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    • I like the way you think, Val, but it’s more likely that a Sanitation Department street sweeper swept the peach pit away. I don’t anticipate that I’ll be seeing any peach tress growing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side anytime soon. But if I do, I’ll try to photograph it, maybe even while wearing my bright blue sneakers.

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  22. I think you are astoundingly observant and astute. And what are shower shoes?

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    • Why thank you, Rebecca. That compliment compensates for the C- I got in typing in high school. My instructor confided that I really deserved a D+, but she knew I’d never be a writer. Since she and I shared the same first name, she felt sorry for me.

      Slang for flip flops.

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  23. That penny value may go up substantially when Lincoln is no longer on pennies and it is, indeed, Beyonce’s profile rocking out that shiny coin. Only a matter of time…

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  24. I once found a rusty wire clothes hanger outside a medical facility. I won’t discuss where my twisted mind went. I like lucky pennies!

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  25. Of course I was thinking about that lucky penny, but only if its heads … so if tails, it remains on the ground. Nonetheless, I got this lucky find this morning which is perfect for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRPILZS1hc8

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