Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.
My great-grandmother taught me that saying. I asked her why bother to pick up a penny and she said, “A penny saved is a penny earned. Pick up pennies and save them until you have enough to buy yourself some candy.”
Although the only rule I had been given was to pick up pennies so I could buy candy, I learned early on that other people had lots of rules about picking up pennies. For instance, some of my friends would only pick up a found penny if it was heads up. If it was tails up, they’d leave it be, saying that only those that were heads up were good luck and those that were tails up were bad luck. Some of my friends who believed a tails up penny was bad luck would turn it over and leave it there, in the heads up position, thereby changing it’s luck for the next person to find. All of these rules had me stumped so I asked my grandmother the rules about bad luck pennies. “There’s no such thing as bad luck pennies, just good luck pennies,” she said, “So if you find a penny, pick it up.”
I don’t know why I was so quick to believe in good luck pennies, but not in bad luck pennies, but I’ve spent my life picking up pennies. I will pick them up anywhere, any time; I don’t care where I am, what I’m doing, or who is watching. If there is a penny on the ground, I pick it up. I’ve picked them up off of dirty public restroom floors, out of puddles in gas stations, off of sidewalks, off of convenience store floors…if I see it, it’s mine. I’ve even developed a ritual; all found pennies go into my left front pocket, to keep them separate from my regular change. If I’m wearing a dress or pants without a pocket, they go into a special area in my wallet. I keep them separate because they are lucky pennies, after all. At the end of the day, I empty my pocket and put the lucky pennies into the big jar of change that I keep in my closet.
Of course, I don’t just pick up pennies. I will pick up any type of coin or cash that I find. Several years ago I realized that I pick up a lot of lost money but wondered just how much money I find in a year. I decided to find out by keeping all of the money I found for one year in a jar and count it at the end of the year.
I began on January 1st. I didn’t find any money that day, but it was my official start date. Throughout the year, I placed all of the coins I found into the jar. I found one, one dollar bill that year that also went into the jar. The following January 1st, I counted the money in the jar. I had eighteen dollars and change. I don’t remember the exact amount of the change any more, but that year, I wrote the exact amount on a piece of paper, as well as the number of pennies, nickles, dimes, quarters and dollars I found. When I had done that, I put the piece of paper into the empty jar and began again.
The second year was a good year. I found a total of twenty-two dollars and change. That year I found five one dollar bills which really helped to increase my total. I remember that I found two of the dollar bills in a convenience store. There were no other customers in the store, but I showed the money to the cashier, in case it was hers or in case someone had looked for it. All she said was, “It must be your lucky day,” so I stashed the cash in my left front pocket.
The third year I found twenty dollars and change, but no dollar bills contributed to that total; it was all change. After the third year, I found that I was averaging about twenty dollars a year in found money and I stopped keeping track of the amount and got rid of the special jar.
But I learned some things in the process. Before I began, I would have guessed that I find more pennies than any other kind of coins. Lucky pennies. But in fact, in each of the three years I found more dimes than any other coin, followed by pennies, nickles and quarters, in that order. That remained true for all three years.
I also learned that not everyone picks up lost change, even their own dropped change. When I was in line at a convenience store one day, a man dropped a handful of change, looked at and walked away. As he went out the door, I picked up his change – 43 cents – and said to the clerk, “Can you believe that?”
“I see it every day. Men usually don’t bother to pick up their dropped change,” she said.
So I started to pay attention to men in lines in stores and I saw first hand many men who dropped change and looked down at it and then walked off without it, almost like before walking away, they weighed whether or not it was worth their time and effort to bend over and pick it up. Although I’m sure women have done the same thing, I’ve never witnessed it. In fact, I’ve seen women picking up the change of others and giving it back to them.
I also learned, from talking to others about my experience, that many people believe that found pennies are not just lucky, they believe they are a sign that a loved one who has passed on is thinking about them. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that whenever I find a lucky penny and pick it up, I think of my great-grandmother. Yet other friends believe that a found penny is a sign from God that their prayers have been heard.
The final thing I learned was that the more I looked for money the more money I found, and that phenomenon continues. For example, last week I was walking down the hallway at work wondering if I should write about finding pennies when, just like that, I found a penny on the floor. Question asked and answered.
So, what do you think about finding pennies? Are they a sign from someone who has passed over? A sign from God? Are there any unlucky pennies? A penny for your thoughts….
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