Penny Power

The Musings of A Simple Country Man

By Hobie Morris

One is not born into the World to do everything but to do something. -Henry David Thoreau

(Nov. 2012) It is my lucky day. I find two pennies! I spot the first one in the Hannaford parking lot in Clinton; the other that evening on the floor in Brookfield’s popular Beaver Den diner.

I wish I had a dollar for every coin I’ve discovered over the years. The penny, of course, remains the easiest dropped and quickest forgotten.

The penny has diminishing value and importance in financial matters, so much so that there has been a cry to eliminate the coin altogether.

I expect that unless you are of my generation in all likelihood you won’t bend down and pick up a solitary penny that someone has dropped. The ones I pick up are usually pretty beat up. Seldom are they in “mint condition.”

Metaphorically these battered coins remind me of the present human condition. We all feel “beat up” by life from time to time. That, like the penny, we have little worth to ourselves and anybody else.

While – we may seem at times – worthless, each of us has the potential to exert amazing, life changing, positive forces on the lives of others. Like each of us that single, common penny we find on the ground near the gas pumps at the local Nice N Easy has absolutely amazing power. We, like the battered penny, have tremendous value. Let me explain.

If you donated all the pennies—and other coins—you’ve picked up during the past year to a favorite charity you’d be shocked how their value has multiplied beyond your wildest imagination.

I’m going to offer you some money, but you must decide how you want it. (I’ll make the offer and come back to it after you’ve had a chance to consider the options).

In May I’ll give you a single penny on May 1; on May 2, 2 pennies; May 3, 4 pennies-doubling the pennies each day for 31 days; or on May 1 I’ll write you out a check for $10,000. For the next 30 days you’ll receive a similar check each day.You must decide, the check or pennies!

In 1905 a big company bid on a project that included some necessary dredging work. The project cost estimate was calculated down to the exact cent, except for the dredging. The figure they came up with was within half-cent per cubic foot. One of the partners wanted to find out more precisely how much they’d have to dredge

A younger partner said, why bother, it was only a half-cent.

The company signed the contract. After six months of work it developed the company would have to dredge 10,000,000 cubic feet of material. It would cost the company exactly half-cent per cubic feet more than they were getting paid for the dredging job. The younger partner’s “why bother” cost the firm $50,000; a staggering amount in 1905.

After three years the company was still working to fulfill a contract at a heavy loss. Just because a man didn’t think a half-cent was worth bothering about.

What have you decided on my offer?

Ten thousand dollars a day for 31 days? Three hundred and ten thousand dollars would make you pretty happy, wouldn’t it! Sounds better than a single penny doubling every day for 31 days. Pretty simple decision isn’t it? But is it!

Take that lowly single penny in your hand on May 1. After 10 days you’re up to the impressive $5.12. But wait—after 25 days the figure is $167,000. That’s a little better isn’t it. Six days later the sum has rocketed up to $10,700,000. Yes, that’s millions! And it all began with a single penny!

Can you imagine if 100,000 people saved a single penny a day for a year and then donated the amount to a needy cause how much good that $365,000 could do!

A penny, like each of us, if properly used, can have a tremendously powerful and positive impact on people and the world.

We far too often underestimate just how powerful our voice can be. Take a single compliment, for instance, and doubling it as we did the single penny for 31 days. Can you imagine the power of over 10 million complimented people. Who knows how encouraging words can impact the thoughts and actions of others! Positive people make communities alive and vibrant. Communities are built up by people who care. Who make little decisions daily that add up over time to making a community better. What if we all decide to throw just one piece of trash out of the car? What if we all picked up just one piece of trash every day. While we can’t control the actions of others we do have control over our own.

While we don’t have control over a lot of things in our lives that’s no excuse for not using the power we do have. What can we do—that if multiplied like the single penny can have such an amazingly positive rippling effect—like a stone thrown in a pool of water.

These once again remain the musings of a simple country man who still gladly bends down and picks up that solitary penny. I see value in it even if most others don’t.

Hobie Morris is a Brookfield resident and simple country man.

 

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