Eight Cents

I’ve been thinking about pennies lately. Wondering if they matter. I confess that I have actually thrown away a penny because I never, ever use them.


So when our church passed out little boxes to collect money for a special Easter offering, I immediately thought, “Aha! A use for all those pennies!”


I went around the house, scrounging them from drawers and desktops and car floorboards. Soon my little box was about half full. I even threw in dimes or quarters, if I found any.


I only found a couple. The truth is, I’m a cashless gal. When my kids need cash — say, for an away game where the team is going to stop at some random McDonald’s — then I have to go to the ATM because I simply don’t carry cash.


But I happened to have a $10 bill because my daughter owed me some money. I took that booty and headed to our local Hospice Thrift Store. I’ve found some pretty amazing bargains there, and it’s hospice — an organization I have really come to appreciate because of their help with my mom (even though she only used their services for one week).


I found one cute skirt: $1. I brought it to the cash register. The total was $1.08, so I handed the checker my $10 bill.


“Don’t you have any change?” the woman asked me.


“No,” I said. I didn’t tell her that every single penny was in my collection box at home, waiting to be offered with much pomp and circumstance on Easter morning.


The woman rolled her eyes and sighed.


I shrugged back at her.


Then a woman beside me said, “I have eight cents.”


If you read my post on my all-Spanish Ash Wednesday service, well, let’s just say this woman looked like someone who might have been there. She was middle-aged, like me, but at least three inches shorter than me, and I’m only 5’2”.


“Oh, no. You don’t have to do that,” I said.


But she was already going through her massive handful of change, counting out exactly eight pennies.


“Thank you, Teresa,” said the woman behind the counter.


So Teresa was a regular customer. Suddenly the woman behind the counter didn’t seem so terrible.


What can you say when someone does a thing like that?


I said the only thing I could to Teresa: “Thank you so much. Have a nice day.”