March 10, 2006
"A penny saved won’t buy you anything."-Anonymous
Every few years a debate gets stirred up about abolishing the penny. That would be the U.S. penny, the one with Lincoln on one side and the Lincoln Memorial building on the other, which is really a "cent", which is short for one percent of a dollar. No one knows what "dollar" is short for. I also don’t know whether this question has been debated in Canada where the cent has Queen Elizabeth on one side and the Canadian national hockey league emblem on the other side.
The term "penny" actually comes from England where it’s short for "we have no idea why it took us so long to figure out that decimalization was a good idea". Oddly enough the term dates back to when an English penny was still equivalent to two farthings, a button, and six pins, or .41666666 percent of a pound.
But I digress. I’m all in favor of keeping the penny even though it’s not accepted in vending machines, on buses, or to pay off credit cards even though some people have enough pennies in barrels in their back bedrooms to get themselves out of debt permanently. As Benjamin Franklin said, A penny saved is a penny earned. Thats why hes on the one-hundred dollar bill, which just proves that its not always all about the Benjamins.
But I digress. Children love pennies. My wife has explained to me that a child would rather have ten pennies than a single dime because it looks like more. She uses this principle in dog training, because apparently dogs would also rather have ten pennies than a dime. But I digress. Without the penny we’d lose the driving force of our economy: the 99 cent sale. Adults are much smarter than children and know that even though it sounds like more 99 cents is much, much, less than a dollar. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve balked at something because it cost an entire dollar, but as soon as they agree to knock a penny off the price, well, that’s a deal. And I walk away with a 99 cent disposable toilet plunger. Then there’s the last vestige of true charity left in our society: the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny dish in mini-marts for those inconvenient times when you’re short a penny. They should have one of those everywhere. I once had to leave a book at a bookstore counter and come back the next day because I was two cents short paying for a ten dollar book. The penny dish is usually right next to the plastic box of foil-wrapped mints, the one that says, "Help The Children" and encourages you to drop in your change and take a mint. The penny dish helps everybody. The "Help The Children" box mainly helps the children of the guy who owns that plastic box. Not that I’m knocking it. Without your help that man’s children might not be able to afford a Caribbean yacht cruise or, worse, they’ll have to take one of the second class cruises where only the midnight buffet serves lobster. Won’t you please help? They’ve had a hard life of private schools, private tutors, and other privations, and they’d probably be happy with ten pennies instead of a dime.
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
Sign over a Gynecologist’s Office:
"Dr. Jones, at your cervix."
In a Podiatrist’s office:
"Time wounds all heels."
On a Septic Tank Truck in Oregon:
"Yesterday’s Meals on Wheels"
At a Proctologist’s door:
"To expedite your visit please back in."
On a Plumber’s truck:
"Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."
At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee:
"Invite us to your next blowout."
At a Towing company:
"We don’t charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."
On an Electrician’s truck:
"Let us remove your shorts."
On a Maternity Room door:
"Push. Push. Push."
At an Optometrist’s Office
"If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place."
On a Taxidermist’s window:
"We really know our stuff."
On a Fence:
"Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive."
At a Car Dealership:
"The best way to get back on your feet — miss a car payment."
Outside a Muffler Shop:
"No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."
In a Veterinarian’s waiting room:
"Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"
At the Electric Company:
"We would be delighted if you send in your payment. However, if you don’t, you will be."
In a Restaurant window:
"Don’t stand there and be hungry, Come on in and get fed up."
In the front yard of a Funeral Home:
"Drive carefully. We’ll wait."
At a Propane Filling Station,
"Thank heaven for little grills."
And don’t forget the sign at a Chicago Radiator Shop:
"Best place in town to take a leak."