As a runner I see an amazing amount of things on the ground. At my peak I run 70 miles or more a week, all at a speed that lets me see my surroundings. But I’ve developed a running joke (pun intended) that I am known for not picking up pennies. Over the course of the last 5 years I’ve found an iPhone, two one hundred dollar bills, a $500 watch, and countless amount of jewelry. During the Champaign Marathon I found a wad of money on laying on the course that was almost enough to pay for my entry fee. My running partners all laugh at my ability to spot things along the road. But there is one thing I don’t pick up……..pennies
Until recently, I always picked up a penny any time I saw it laying there . I figured over my life I probably pick up thousands of pennies and “a penny saved was a penny earned”. Not true any more and I’ll tell you why in a second. There are a few exceptions to these new rules. One, if I dropped the penny I can still pick it up. Two, if it is a quarter I still go for the coin. Here’s why I’ve made the big change (no pun intended) in my life. I earn more than $75 per hour which comes out to 2 cents a second. The time it takes to pick up a penny I could have kept moving and made double what I put in to it. Even if the value of my time doesn’t come into play then I figure I could put in the 2 seconds it takes to bend over and pick up the penny and keep moving towards where I was headed.
Another big part in the decision is my health. Bending over quickly is not good for the back. As a man in my 40’s it’s not wise to bend over in one sudden movement, pick something up. I’m not the most flexible guy, if I hurt something it will take 125 years of picking up pennies to pay for the doctor. It may also prevent me from training for my Ironman.
Luck plays a bit of a part as well. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I only would pick up pennies on heads but since I was already down there I would just flip over any pennies on tails and then pick them up. I say I’m not superstitious but evidently after typing this I am. I’m going to be saving myself from potential bad luck.
Lastly, money is pretty dirty. Especially pennies that have been laying on the ground. I’d pick them up and inevitably wipe my face or mouth. Not right away but most likely before I wiped my hands. I’m not afraid of germs but the reality is that money is one of the dirtiest things you’ll ever handle. Who knows how much bacteria I am going to keep out of my body.
Not picking up pennies has also added a lot of joy in my life. I gave this same type of speech at a large party and 10-15 people now tell me that they think of me every time they see a penny on the ground. I also leave it for someone that needs the penny more than I do. Some may claim that it takes pennies to earn dollars but I am going to counter with the old, ” I no longer step on dollars to pick up pennies” .