Friday, September 19, 2008

The End of Change

I have finally reached the point in my life where I do not really need coins.

And by "coins," I mean that most important of coins, the quarter dollar.

At some point in my life, in the distant past, the quarter was everything.

I needed quarters for everything. The bus. Video games. The coin-op washer and dryer. Vending machines. Parking meters.

I tended to optimize my spending to maximize the number of quarters I would get in change.

Slowly but surely, the need for quarters melted away. I drive my own car. Video games need tokens. I live in a house with my own washer and dryer. I have a parking pass. I do not drive through any toll booths.

The final coin dropped, so to speak, when my company changed the vending machines in the office. Everything used to be a quarter. In an expense control move, the machines are no longer subsidized, so the price of everything floated up to around a dollar.

Nothing in them is a quarter any more, or even some multiple of a quarter, except items that are a dollar even. Everything else is 55 cents or 85 cents or some such anti-quarter valuation.

And since the store right next door to our office has everything cheaper than the vending machines, my final need for coins has faded.

Now all the coins I collect during the day end up on my desk until they become a big enough pile to annoy me. Then the kids get them. But even they look askance at anything less than a quarter some days.

No more jingle-jangle of coins in my pocket, my days of change are through. My kids and places with tip jars will benefit.

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