Paris Pennies

April 28, 2008

well-feathered nest

A little nest for a little nest egg.

Sometime last fall, E.g. and I started planning a ten-day trip to Paris, which quickly expanded to include my mother and Jack’s mum and Jack. After much sifting of web sites, we chose a three-bedroom apartment in the 2nd arrondissement where we could all stay and share the rent. Short-term rental is less expensive than staying at a hotel, and less grotty than staying at a hostel.

Still, it’s a good chunk of cash. It’s an even bigger chunk temporarily, because the damage deposit equals the rental price. So we’ve been trying to be a little more careful with our money.

It’s interesting to me to notice how little care is generally taken with that lowliest piece of money, the penny. It’s hard to go for a walk without seeing one, or even several, abandoned on a sidewalk, on a manhole cover, or in the gutter. It may be jagged from being run over countless times, or half-sunk in asphalt tar. They’re everywhere! So I decided to collect them.

I told E.g. and Jack about my project. I took a sturdy plastic container that used to hold laundry detergent, and put some dollar-store bags of coin rollers in it. Jack found a little cardboard box at home, cut a slot in it, and labeled it PARIS PENNIES in thick magic marker. Gillian started filling a little metal coin bank with change from her wallet.

Sometimes I found nickels, and oftener dimes — maybe because they look more like pennies. I found some British leftovers from a standby weekend in London, put it in an envelope, and set that in the plastic container. Since some of that “change” was a ten-pound note, I was inspired to add a few of my own notes — a bit of babysitting money, a little catsitting money, some of my petstore wages.

Yesterday, E.g. was making little worried sounds regarding Paris and other expenses looming on the horizon. I decided to count what had been stashed away. I totted everything up, and had Jack carry the plastic container to E.g. “I need Jack’s help,” I told E.g., “to carry 500 pounds.”

Five hundred and forty-eight, to be more exact. At least in British currency. We had collected $1,104 (1090 American, 1162 Australian, 1389 New Zealand). The stash included 32 rolls of coins, of which 14 were pennies. That’s 700 of those neglected little copper pieces. An old adage comes to mind.