The Penny Trail

So, here I am once again at the 61c cafe, studying. Typically, nothing very interesting happens here. Customers come and go with their coffee and their textbooks and laptops in a steady stream of humanity. But tonight I saw something so intriguing that I had to stop and blog!

I had just gone out to stretch my legs and give my poor soggy brain some air when a man walked past with an enormous black garbage bag that jingled with each stride he took. And from a small hole somewhere in that bag, a slow trickle of pennies clinked out, rolling neatly down the sidewalk behind him. He would glance down occasionally but did not break his stride and eventually vanished from sight. I assume he was headed for the Coinstar machine in the Giant Eagle.

That was certainly strange, but ok, maybe he had so many pennies that he wasn’t concerned about a paltry few 2000 or so.

Then, up and down the street, I began to be aware of people stooping to pick up the errant pennies. People crossed the street, changed directions, and called to friends. People used their cell phones, transferred things to other pockets, all scurrying around bending and stooping…like pigeons after breadcrumbs. Business men with brief cases, ties loosened, hunted through the dusk for change. Mothers with children in tow were juggling grocery bags while they demurely dipped to secure a couple of extra cents. The children themselves ran shrieking gleefully after the “candymoney”. An older gentleman, scooping pennies up in the middle of the street where the pennyman had crossed used his cane to push a few toward the sidewalk where he could safely get them. Cars were slowing, puzzled drivers rolling down windows and gawping at the generally staid Squirrel Hillians scramble up and down the twilit street in search for change.

As for me, I was fervently wishing for my digital camera.

The pennyman did not come back and I finally made my way back into the cafe to hit the books but I will never forget the weirdity of tonight and the way the people moved, like a dance, after the loosed pennies.


1 Comment

  1. David Martin said,

    October 9, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Hi there
    This is the first time that i have viewed a blog,and it happened by a mistake as i was looking for a website to do with the penny.I found your observation rather interesting.I live in New Zealand and have been to California on a number of accasions as my brother lives there.As iam used to having my coffe and reading the paper in the morning and not wishing to drive i used to walk app half a mile to Starbucks ( i dont like their coffe but there was no other option)as i walked the firs time i noticed a penny on the footpath and picked it up. This procces went on for the next month every day and every day i picked up pennies,then i noticed that not only my brothers car but other friends cars had pennies every where,so having a few beers one evening i had this wonderfull idea how the penny can be a profitable business as it seems that everybody throws them away.I cant tell you my idea as i hve spent the last 3 years completing every detail and can no longer add value until i return to California and make it work as iknow it will.

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