Dollars and sense

The Australian government started phasing out the one-cent coin a few years before I was born. I’ve spent my life in complete and utter bliss, where pennies are nothing but a hilarious prank that North Americans pull on each other on the daily. I spent only a week and a half in New York before I came to Waterloo, and I returned with what I’m sure is a few metric tonnes of pennies.

I forgot that they existed because of their ridiculous sizing and colouring, but occasionally the stupid little coins were the laughing stock of my wallet. I’d spot a couple of pennies, wedged into the corner of my coin purse, shake my head, and take out a dollar bill.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no economist — I thrive on having the most basic mathematic knowledge possible. There’s probably a really good economic reason as to why you guys kept the freeloading coin in circulation. I just got so frustrated by them in America, I can hardly imagine what a pain I would be in line at Timmy’s here.

Canadian currency confuses me as is, but I do have little triumphs, like the time I successfully realised that while Canada does not have a 50-cent coin, two 25-cent coins make 50 cents. There&rsquo;s also the time I used &ldquo;loonie&rdquo; in a conversation without realizing it. The person I was talking to grinned and nudged me, and rather cryptically said, <em>&ldquo;You did it.&rdquo;</em>

While not the case with every transaction where money is involved, occasionally I&rsquo;ll meet a cashier who frowns when they are trying to figure out how much change to give me. More than once I&rsquo;ve had a cashier say, <em>&ldquo;$4.93 for that. Oh, you&rsquo;re paying in cash? That&rsquo;s $4.95, then.&rdquo; </em>

I think that somebody having to explain to me how rounding works is the absolute cutest thing. But it&rsquo;s only been a year and a bit since the Canadian government came to their cents (see what I did there?), so I&rsquo;m willing to excuse the cuteness and resist the urge to giggle every time a cashier helpfully reminds me how it works.

Despite all of this, the penny is not entirely useless. A simple Google search of <em>&ldquo;What can you do with spare pennies?&rdquo; </em>brings up a few exciting prospects. Highlights include, &ldquo;Freeze them and drop them down the shirts of unsuspecting victims,&rdquo; &ldquo;Prompt your backstabbing workmate to pick one that is tails side up so that they have bad luck,&rdquo; &ldquo;Increase the pH of soil for hydrangeas,&rdquo; and my personal favourite, &ldquo;Fill a sock with them for self defence.&rdquo; So the penny does indeed have a very worthwhile place, mainly in acts of petty violence, revenge, and gardening.

While I am excited to go to Orlando for reading week, I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s any way for me to emotionally and mentally prepare myself for the return of that godawful penny. Canada has only just healed me from the scarring experience of exchanging pennies for things that should simply be rounded up or down. Every day, I&rsquo;m finding another reason to love Canada.