“I like pennies. Where will I find a lucky penny?” the little girl’s eyes were expectant, her voice tremulous.
One year later, the removal of the once ubiquitous penny still evokes emotions and sadness. On February 4, 2013, Canadians ushered history as the copper coin, the smallest denomination and the only one of its colour, was withdrawn from the money circulation after 155 years.
Random supermarkets and service stations still have signs fastened on doors and near tills, weathered and dog-eared, reminding customers that pennies will no longer be given as change.
People still ask about the formula for rounding transactions – down to the nearest dime for prices ending in 6 or 7. Up if it ends in 8 or 9.
Still others have no desire to be reminded of the icon, happy that the worthless coin does not contaminate their purses.
In schools, the penny continues to be commemorated as tiny owners jingle their coppers into bottles and lines to help alleviate expenses of ill members in their own communities. Or for clean water in faraway lands.
“We” day inspires students to be a difference, create social change, and metal chinking against metal halo the memories of those aspirations. Throughout the length and width of provinces and territories, the artistic immortalize the copper icon on countertops, floors, backsplashes, coffee tables. Shrines in homes and private spaces. The final one in a museum in Ottawa.
Most of the memorials were thought up by men, the category that was identified to have least sentiment to the penny. The final coin too had been pressed by a male hand.
“We may not have used pennies a lot but I refuse to give them up and lose their history,” a young man said to me. “I used over 10,000 pennies to floor my bathroom. It’s really something to see.”
The photos testified that the artwork on the floor was spectacular. I wonder about the resale value of that home in years to come.
“I thought of resale, that’s why I covered my coffee table,” another gentleman reminisces. His wife adds, “That’s some weight to move when vacuuming.” The table had increased its weight by 18 pounds.
To be fair, many shoppers seem fine with the elimination of the penny, citing the weightiness as the chief benefit. But the majority I’ve spoken to at book signings, in grocery lines, in the gyms and libraries of educational centres where hundreds of eyes fasten on my brown pair, they penny was fun and desirable. Equally for adults and kids. Pennies in the language, in the traditions.
My own experiment of rounding 100 transactions showed a resulting loss to the customer by 11 cents, and a corresponding gain to the retailer. So while there is a slight advantage to businesses, I can attest to fair rounding by the stores with which I deal by looking at receipts.
“Rounding Adjustment -0.01 ” was what one printed for a purchase of $5.66.
I never picked up pennies for luck, but I was lucky, rather blessed, to have written about the penny.
Happy Anniversary Retired Penny. We remember.