Tag Archives: myth

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.