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Archive for the ‘Aging’ Category

Pennies from "not quite" heaven

I think I should get my eyes checked as a misreading of the online weather forecast last week cost me FIFTY CENTS! I really did read the sunrise time here as 4:30 AM and sunset about 4:45 PM. Friends at coffee told me, “no way!” But I persisted. Finally, one friend asked if I wanted to make a bet on it. Since I was so sure I’d read correctly, I was all set to wager $5.00. Oh, geesh. That really wasn’t so smart, considering the most I’ve ever made by gambling of any kind is about $30 from a penny slot machine at a casino. Luckily, this friend suggested $.50. So, I went with that.

After checking a couple of online weather sites, I discovered that I had indeed read the times wrong – way wrong. So, I bit the proverbial bullet and asked my mother to take a quarter to my friend the next day since I wouldn’t be able to go. She did  that but returned with the news that he wanted to know where the rest of his money was. Since we had kidded around by email a little, I knew he was just continuing the kidding. So, I decided to repay the rest in a little more interesting way.

Okay. I don’t normally watch a lot of television. However, while watching Rachel Maddow’s news show on MSNBC, I cut a piece of white tissue paper into small squares, dug out the tape, and rounded up 25 pennies. During the show, I wrapped each penny in a piece of paper, taping each package closed with a tiny piece of tape. I then found a sample box of toothpaste, removed the tube, and dropped each little penny package into the box. After wrapping the box of pennies with more tissue paper, I stuck on lots of little wild animal stickers and included a quote about wagering by Ralph Waldo Emerson. And waited for two days until coffee yesterday morning.

When I presented him with the rest of his “earnings,” the look on his face was almost priceless. He read the quote and checked out the stickers. He shook the box. Everyone else watched in rapt fascination as he pulled out his pocket knife and deftly and carefully slit open one end of the wrapping paper, saving the rest of the paper and the stickers. He then opened the box and dumped the contents onto the table – all 25 individually-wrapped pennies, each one looking, as my mother thought, like small pieces of white candy.

We waited. We laughed. We wondered if he would indeed unwrap each or even any of the little packages.

With his knife, he slit the tape on the first package, carefully unfolded the tissue paper from around its content, and let the first penny slide to the table. Oh, first he checked the date of the coin to make sure it wasn’t valuable.

We waited. He then proceeded to do the exact same thing with each little package, tossing the unfolded paper to another friend who likes to collect pieces of trash and paper cups from the table and throw them away each morning. It gives him something to do.

When each penny had been unwrapped, it was time for a count. Somehow he counted only 24 pennies. Oh, oh. Did I make a mistake and only wrap 24 coins? Finally, someone found a penny on the floor so I was safe. Good thing, too. Who knows how I would have presented ONE PENNY to him the next day. Oh, the possibilities are endless.

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I’ve now been living in East San Diego County for six months and it’s been okay so far. But, I can’t keep from comparing the area to the way it was when I grew up here so many years ago. Like most other big cities, it’s become too big with far too many people and few areas of actual quiet. Right now my jobs require a lot of driving from one area of the county to another. With the price of gas rising each day, now anywhere from $4.09 to $4.35 per gallon, I needed to make a decision. I could accept only those jobs within a small radius of my home, I could quit them completely, or I could find other transportation options.

I used to enjoy driving. However, I don’t like to drive here any longer. Using freeways, I am able to get just about anywhere, using surface roads to complete a trip. But, that convenience is marred by too darned many other vehicles going at too fast a speed. It’s marred by too many speed bumps, by too many dead ends, by too many roads that go nowhere, by too many “Right Turn Only” signs, by the need to make too many U-turns, by the need to shift gears in my pickup constantly on surface streets, by too-long waits at huge intersections, and especially by my impatience with all of these things.

Yesterday I discovered that I am old enough for a Senior Transit Pass, paying $18 a month instead of the normal $72 for unlimited rides on buses and trolleys. Considering that it now takes at least $50 to fill my gas tank, it’s a no-brainer. Yes, trips will take much longer. Yes, I’ll need to plan trips ahead of time. And yes, I’ll need to do a little more walking from stop to stop. But I also see it as an adventure, as a way to thumb my nose at oil companies, and as a way to do my small share to make this planet a little greener.

The adventure begins today with a very short walk down the hill to the bus stop, a bus ride to the El Cajon Transit Center,

  and a short walk from there to Parkway Plaza Shopping Center for a mystery shop.

Then it’s a walk back to the transit center and a trolley and bus ride into San Diego for another shop.

Finally, after a bus ride back to the trolley stop, it’s another trolley ride back to El Cajon

and a bus up to the mountain city of Alpine. That bus stops directly at my destination so that will be handy. From there, I can ride the bus back to where I began, walk up the hill, and I’m home. We’ll see how it goes.

While living in Portland, Oregon, I used to ride the MAX light rail everywhere, and buses where the MAX didn’t go. So, there’s really no reason not to get into that habit again. It might be interesting to keep track of how much gas I DON’T use this coming month.

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