Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Banes of My Existence: Pennies

So I was at a fast food restaurant the other day... I've always found it strange to refer to fast food places as "restaurants".  Technically they are, I suppose, but only in the way that MTV is "music television", which is to say in name only.  Anyway, at this fast food joint which shall remain nameless (but it was Wendy's) I bought a chicken nuggets meal, medium size, and it was yummy, thanks for asking.  But while my appetite may have been sated, I left said establishment (again: Wendy's) less then satisfied.  For, you see, the cost of my meal- which, I must remind you, was ordered from a FIXED menu- was the painfully awkward figure of $6.02.

Six. Oh. Two.  There is no reason on God's green Earth for Wendy's to charge an extra .02 cents rather then a nice, round six dollars.  Well, okay, outside of greed, because when you add up all those .02 cents over the course of a year, it's probably a nice amount.  But I'll tell you a little secret: I would gladly- GLADLY!- pay $6.05 just to not get those three pennies back.

Pennies exist for one reason, and one reason only-- to make change.  I carry pennies with me only so that I can avoid getting more pennies.  Doesn't that seem silly?  Doesn't that seem like a complete waste of time?  Doesn't that seem like one little irritant from our daily lives that we could happily remove? And I'll tell you something else: most businesses would gladly get rid of the penny.  Remember the penny shortage from a decade ago?  Of course you don't.  The only thing sillier would be a junk mail shortage. See, there was a penny shortage, because the vast, vast majority of the things don't circulate.  So banks didn't have enough to give out, and retailers had to jump through hoops to make correct change.  It was preposterous.

The West Wing talked about eliminating the penny in an episode, and concluded that it wouldn't happen because Illinois wouldn't like it, because Abraham Lincoln's on the penny.  But... but... haven't we honored Lincoln enough?  He's still got the five dollar bill, after all.  And that great monument in Washington.  And a bunch of other things.  Really, I think we've done all right by ol' Abe.  And who really wants to keep Illinois happy anyway?  After all, as John Oliver points out, you're statisically more likely to go to jail if you're elected governor of Illinois then if you grow up in South Central L.A.

Here's a link to the Citizens for Retiring the Penny; I urge you all to join.  I'm throwing my considerable socio-political weight behind this thing.  Let's get this done, and have one less useless irritant out of our lives. Up next: cigarettes and guns.

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