Penny pocketing proves profitable

By Lynn Rogers

Find a penny, pick it up, and then all day you’ll have good luck.

Words to live by.

You can usually find me around DeKalb and on campus stooping over and staring intently at the ground, as if I’d lost a precious contact lens or earring back. Actually, I’m looking for pennies.

This is not a new thing. I’ve picked up “lost” pennies for years, usually in dangerous places like intersections, street corners, parking lots and hallways (if you’re in DuSable).

Though I’m an old and wise (ha) college junior, I still naively think I’ll have a heck of a day if I pocket a penny. “Oh boy!” I think to myself excitedly, “Now I’ll get an ‘A’ on that history test!” Then I go into the exam and wished I’d found a quarter.

Finding pennies has come through for me time to time. Really.

Right before my high school driver’s ed test, a copper glimmer on the sidewalk caught my eye. I got into the Chevy Citation, successfully backed my way around a corner (hand-over-hand-over-hand) and passed. To this day, I’ve never needed to back around a corner, but I credited the penny with passing that test.

When I’m having a particularly lousy day, I frequently run up and down streets, eyes glued to the ground, searching for pennies. After years of practicing this method, I can assure you – IT DOESN’T WORK.

With my head to the ground, I usually end up making my day worse than before by smashing into trees, telephone poles or people in the opposite direction. They become very agitated and scream “Watch where you’re going, $*%$*!”

What do I do with all of these pennies? I shove them into my bookbag or purse where they collect at the bottom, along with Hubba Bubba wrappers, old Tic Tacs and expired coupons.

They usually remain there until I buy something and annoy everyone in the store by saying, “Now wait, I know I have a penny somewhere.” Digging through my garbage heap (i.e. bookbag), I triumphantly produce the coin five minutes later. Meanwhile, the guy behind me looks like he’s going to explode.

My penny pinching habit tends to disgruntle my boyfriend, however. We’ll be walking down a street and suddenly he’ll turn and say, “Lynn? Lynn?” and find me ten steps behind him hunched over and smiling. “You’re going to get hit by a car over a stupid penny,” he says. “I’ll give you five dollars if you don’t pick that up.”

My advice to potential penny-picker-uppers is to, above all, look where you’re going. If there are two trucks in the vicinity, don’t chance it.

My trained eagle-eye also comes in handy in other situations. When I sat down to rest on a Chicago bench one afternoon, I went to tie my shoe and lo and behold, I found a money clip. I’d made it to the big league.

There was no I.D. card and no one claimed it in 15 minutes, so I immediately took the $19 over to Carson’s and bought a funky vest I knew I’d never spend money on myself. You never know what’s going to show up on the ground.

I lose my share of money too–we all do. But finding pennies and bills will always be a sign of good luck. People who walk by a penny and think “it’s only one cent” don’t know what they’re missing.

Besides, the money adds up. Eventually.