While sitting in my den chair the other night, I heard the jingling of change hitting the floor. I looked down and saw that the change from my pockets was of course falling out and hitting the floor. It wasn’t enough to buy a gallon of gas or even a cup of coffee, but it was mine so I picked it up.
It brought back wonderful memories of going to my Papa’s house on weekends when I was a little boy. My older brother and I would flip the cushions on Grandmama’s worn out green sofa knowing we would find change that had fallen from Papa’s pockets.
Papa owned a coin operated car wash and was a “change hound.” He was always rolling quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies to take to the bank.
It was not uncommon to find five dollars worth of change in Grandmama’s sofa and that was a lot of money.
In 1970, gas was 36 cents a gallon, bread was 24 cents a loaf, eggs were 51 cents a dozen and a postage stamp was 6 cents. Doing the math, five dollars would have almost bought me 14 gallons of gas back then.
I didn’t need that much gas, the most I ever needed was about a gallon for the mini-bike that had a Briggs & Stratton lawnmower engine running it (when it would run). Papa usually supplied the gas for it also, so times were good.
Sometimes I wonder if Papa planted that money in the sofa or if it actually came out of his pockets. He lived frugally, but well. He seemed to always wear the same couple of shirts and pairs of pants. I don’t even remember him wearing the new flannel shirts we would give him at Christmas.
Most of our grandparents grew up in a time where frugality did not mean “doing without,” but rather being thankful for what they had worked for.
Times have changed. Many folks are struggling to just get by, seeing that what they work for just doesn’t seem to be enough. There are others who seem to be a little lazy, expecting someone else to dump money in their sofas for them to find.
What do I mean?
Take for example, rolling coins to take to the bank. There are machines now in grocery stores where you can take your coins and dump them in; the machine will give you paper money back. Great idea isn’t it? Not really. The machine takes 8% as a fee. In other words, if you put ten dollars worth of quarters in the machine, it will give you $9.20 back.
Want to talk about a stupid tax? I think that borders on it. Folks justify this by saying, “It’s more convenient.” If you have that much money to spend on “convenience,” I understand. Let me note here, if you have $10,000 in quarters, I will roll them for you for $800. The other option if you don’t want to roll them yourself, is to take them to the bank. The teller may look at you kind of funny, and might even complain, but money is money.
We take clothes that the children have outgrown and other things that we no longer need to the local thrift store operated by the Disabled American Veterans. If they are still useable, we would like to think that someone could get some use out of them. The thrift store sells these items to fund various charities, most importantly helping disabled veterans.
I enjoy going to the thrift store, not only to donate things, but to find odds and ends that I find interesting. I look for cast iron skillets that folks have given up on, golf clubs and things that remind me of when I was young (and flipping sofa cushions).
Recently, I was reading a story about folks who go to thrift stores to find money. This was not a story about finding treasures at the thrift store to sell to someone else at a profit, but literally going to the thrift store and looking for money.
This concerned me, because at first sight, it seemed a lot like stealing. The more I read, I determined that it wasn’t “like stealing,” it was stealing.
These folks gave instructions on where to look to find money while “shopping” in a thrift store. Reading through the ideas, they all seemed like something a kid would do. However, this article was meant for adults.
It was noted that you should climb under desks and tables, pulling out drawers and looking under shelves. The article said that many older people will tape envelopes of cash in these places and forget about them. It is important to note here that the article did not suggest that you buy the item first, it noted to just take the money.
Other places the folks suggested to look included men’s suit pockets, pants pockets, luggage compartments, book pages and also of course, under seat cushions of sofas and chairs. Again, they did not note that you should buy the item; they just noted that you could find money there.
If that’s not stealing from the folks at the thrift store, I’m not sure what it is.
The way I see it, it’s the same as going over to somebody’s house and ransacking it, looking for money. Perhaps these same folks go to a restaurant and steal the servers’ tips to pay for their own meals.
It is bothersome.
Times are hard; it seems we have to make enough for our families and somebody else’s. If it’s for folks that can’t work, I’m ok with that. If it’s for folks who spend their time not working and going through other folks sofa cushions, I’m not ok with that.
I’m sure this wasn’t the change you were expecting. It seldom is. Always hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
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