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A Penny for Your Thoughts

January 19, 2015

“When someone asks you, A penny for your thoughts, and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?”

– George Carlin

When I was a boy, coins had practical purpose. Everyone carried coins.  Dads always had a jingling pocketful of change. Moms could send their kids off to school with lunch money by reaching into their purses and pocketbooks. A small carton of milk in the school cafeteria cost four cents. Chocolate milk was a nickel. The ice cream man who pulled through the neighborhood each summer afternoon had a nifty coin changer he’d fill, dispense from, and click with remarkable speed. Scorecards at Wrigley Field cost a quarter. Stub pencils were free, I think and fancy pencils with a Cubs logo were an extra dime or so. I managed my lucrative newspaper route with coins. I always started my collections with a reserve for making change. Many customers would give me a handful of coins for the weekly charge that ran no greater than $1.10 unless I delivered both the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune to their door. At times, coins were more than simply useful – they were necessary. Drivers paid their Illinois Toll Road fares by tossing coins into a basket and if you were without when you entered from a ramp without an attendant, you were out of luck. Since these entrance ramps had no gate and this was long before we were monitored and filmed every step of the way, at times, the Toll Road Authority was short-changed.

Money makes the world go around, so until the tech companies dictate their way with their digital currency, the U.S. Treasury runs their factories. If the zinc industry, which hides behind the lobbyist called Americans for Common Cents, has its way, the tech companies plans will be thwarted and pennies will be with us forever. Neither of these two interest groups are thinking about my friend J, who will pass a penny on the sidewalk if it is tails up, but scoops up those that are laying heads facing up. As everyone knows, heads up pennies are full of good luck. J deserves good fortune, so that’s reason enough to print those pennies.

The U.S. Mint produces billions of coins each year. Lots of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. And to a lesser extent, half-dollar and dollar coins. The government isn’t stamping out this currency in exchange for my thoughts. Political scientists and economists increasingly tell us that the country’s direction is determined by a plutocracy. Democracy just ain’t what it used to be. More than ever, decisions affecting everything from the mundane to the far-reaching aspects of our lives and country’s future are a venture for the moneyed and political few.

The fact is, nobody inside or out of government has offered me a penny for my thoughts. Here I am, nonetheless. Every now and again, when time allows, I write. With this entry, I’ve now written one hundred times.

Ram On is still without a theme. It’s just some of this and some of that on my little WordPress blog site. I actually spend more time reading the other blogs than writing my own. It’s a good place to check in with the world and see what others have to say with their photos and essays. I discover more bloggers all the time, each of them with their individual styles and charms. It suits me fine. There’s no corporate media, no hidden agendas and certainly no plutocracy here on WordPress. It’s egalitarian and democratic.

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One hundred pennies for my thoughts.

Our blogs are small in the scheme of things. Everything is of course. The ideas of the country’s wealthiest and powerful interests are no different. Neither are the studies of the most knowledgeable scientists or the convictions of the most assured believers. It’s life and life only. It’s what you make of it in the here and now.

Each of us find our own reasons to write our thoughts for others to read. We do so whether someone is asking for our two cents or not. But maybe someone is actually asking us, “what do you think?” After all, people do read our blog posts. Thank you for reading Ram On.

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Rod Serling told the story of man whose life changed when he realized that he didn’t need extraordinary powers to improve his lot in life. In a morning workday rush on a busy city street at the top of the subway stairs, Hector Poole, anxious and unsatisfied with things at work, bought the morning paper and threw a quarter into the newspaper boy’s box. Strangely, the coin landed on its edge. From that moment on, Hector was able to hear other people’s thoughts. With this troubling, but intriguing, new power, Hector learned all sorts of things about people. For one, Hector learned that Mr. Bagby, the bank’s president, was having an affair and anticipating a weekend rendezvous with his lover.

He next saved the bank from embarrassment and a financial loss when he heard a customer plan to take the proceeds from the bank’s $200,000 short-term loan to the race track and bet half of it on Lucky Lady and the other half on two other horses with long odds. Mr. Bagby initially threatened to fire him for confronting the customer about his intent, but ultimately commended him for protecting the bank, when he learned that the customer squandered another bank’s money at the track.

Hector also heard his colleague day-dream about stealing money from the bank vault and retiring to a tropical island, where he would no longer have to keep ledgers and sit out another grim day at his desk. Not being able to recognize that this was only a fascination and nothing that Mr. Smithers would actually do, Hector made the mistake of acting on this telepathic communication and falsely accused the fellow of a filling his briefcase with the bank’s money. Hector was fired for this unfortunate drama, but able to negotiate his job back along with a promotion and a prized office desk when he informed Mr. Bagby that he was aware of his upcoming weekend tête-à-tête with his girlfriend, Felicia.

Helen Turner, a young woman with a clerical position at the bank, was a key character throughout this strange day at the office. Hector heard Helen’s thoughts of encouragement and support each step of the way. Prior to attaining his telepathic abilities, Hector had no idea that Helen had any interest in him. Although she worked from a desk only a few feet away, Hector was oblivious to any signals she sent to him. He entirely missed the opportunity to get to know her while he toiled away at his post.

Hector Poole

Hector and Helen at the office. A woman once told me that men my age have lost all their social skills and abilities to start a conversation with women. She claimed that we’ve become inept at identifying the clear signals an available woman sends.

Armed with the awareness that Helen wanted to know him better, Hector struck up the nerve to ask her if he could ride with her on the evening subway. She accepted his offer enthusiastically and off they went to enjoy each other’s company. As they stood at the top of the subway stairs, Hector bought the evening paper. Once again, he tossed a quarter into newspaper boy’s box. This time, the coin knocked down the coin from the morning paper that was still standing on its edge, that is, the coin that gave Hector his telepathic powers. Instantly, his ability to hear what others were thinking was gone. Hector was relieved, even elated, as this additional knowledge about others was just too much to bear. He exclaimed his joy to Helen and they went arm in arm down the subway stairs.

The day opened Hector’s eyes and ears. Maybe even his heart. He was now ready to live.

One time in a million, a coin will land on its edge. But all it takes to knock it over is a vagrant breeze, a vibration or a slight blow. Hector B. Poole, a human coin on edge for a brief time in the Twilight Zone.

It goes quickly. Write about it while you can.

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Thank you WordPress. The pleasure is all mine.

 

From → Writing

30 Comments
  1. Liked the two cents!

    Like

  2. I think I remember that Twilight Zone episode. I used to love that show. It had universal appeal. Teenagers liked it. Their parents liked it. Their grandparents liked it.

    I’m with Hector–reading people’s thoughts would be too great a burden to bear. Plus, who wants to really know what others are thinking about them? 😉

    Like

    • But it worked out well – the bank didn’t lose its money to the gambling borrower and Hector lives happily ever after. All for one day of knowing what people really think.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So does this mean my Wheat penny collection will be worth more or less money? 😉

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  4. Great episode of Twilight Zone. Why don’t they make such memorable shows now. We could write them!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh and I forgot. I like the else’s blogs (I must, I have one!). The themed ones get boring. There is only so much you can write about any one topic.

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  6. Bruce, your blog is a lovely window into your thoughts, and I didn’t even have to throw a penny. Congratulations on 100 posts! It seems like it would be vastly educational to me, if I heard peoples’ thoughts for one day. But…exhausting.

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    • Crystal, but isn’t it nice to see how Hector B. Poole had a new bounce in his step? His day’s education may have changed his life.

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  7. #100 is a fitting coda to the previous 99. Keep it up my friend!

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  8. You may have a theme here but just aren’t aware of it. What I’ve read in your blog so far tells me that your giving your perception of what goes on in life. Although you don’t come right out and say it, your posts speak volumes about your intuitive awareness of the world.

    Maybe you should be asking for a dime instead of a penny.

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    • Glynis, I think the price elasticity here at Ram On still leaves everyone with the bargain price of $0. But, we do these things for our own reasons and in this case, that price suits me fine. And you are right. A themed blog is ultimately mostly about the blogger. A blog without a theme is no different. Thank you for reading.

      Like

  9. Congratulations on 100 posts! Bruce, I always like reading what you have to say, and you unfailingly give positive reinforcement in your comments.
    I always like reading your two cents worth!

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  10. Laurie – happy to know. Thank you for your very kind words.

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  11. Always enjoy your two cents worth, Bruce. It often brings a smile and frequently offers me something to ponder over. Still strong at 100. Congratulations and keep them coming. –Curt

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    • Curt – smiling is a healthy way to go. Most of the time, pondering can be also. So, I’m happy Ram On brings it to you. As you know, your Wanderings sends it right back to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I always enjoy reading your two cents. And even your over-100-words of sense, because you make GOOD sense. Always. I know I don’t make sense when I only pick up a penny heads up, but I believe in luck, and magic, and the ability to read minds, so there you go. Funny thing is, I just wrote a story for my creative writing class about a teenager who could read minds. She called herself “A Danger to the Public,” but as you show here, she’s also a danger to herself. Lastly, whenever I see the actor who played Hector in the Twilight Zone episode (a great one) I see Samantha’s husband in “Bewitched.” He always seemed to be able to know each time she was about to get them in trouble with her witchcraft, so maybe the mind-reading ability stayed with him from one gig to the other. 🙂

    Oh, and Ram On – for another 100 posts – PLEASE!

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  13. I still pick up every penny I see. I go to the laundromat every weekend to do laundry, and while there, I scour the floor for dropped quarters. It’s getting harder and harder to spend the spare change, but my parents instilled this strong habit of saving each little cent whenever possible. Nickels and dimes are handy for parking meters, but pennies almost necessarily need to be taken to the bank.

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  14. Liked both of them! Congratulations on your 100th post! Here’s to another hundred!

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  15. Love George carlin, loved the twilight zone, love ram on, xo LMA

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  16. You could say that there’s A Whole Lotta’ Love.

    Like

  17. I guess I should be less lazy and start picking pennies on the street, for the future!

    Like

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