No, not that kind of change. I’m talking about coins. Loose change, the kind you find in your pocket. You know, the stuff that ends up under the sofa cushions? That mass of flat metal objects that clunks around in your pants as you walk down the street? The very same stuff that once short circuited a 9-volt battery in my pocket and nearly caused it to explode.
It’s nearly useless in modern society. Inflation has ensured that you can’t buy anything with loose coins. And the stuff it is good for, like vending machines, require so many coins that you need a Brinks armored car full of quarters in order to buy a pack of gum. Coins are heavy, loud, and tends to fall out at the most inopportune time. The best thing I can say about coinage is that it keeps you from having to break any more bills than necessary.
I had a friend in college who used to throw all his coins out the car window as he drove. (Yes, I did have some odd friends.) He especially hated pennies and would toss them with great vengence. His eccentricity was good for a laugh right up to the day that one of his offerings skipped across the road, hit a police car, and broke the windshield.
For years, I’ve been collecting change at an unbelievable rate, ending up with probably $50 worth each month. If it weren’t for Coinstar I’d have been buried under a mound of copper pennies a long time ago. Coinstar rocks because you just dump your change into this contraption and it counts it all up for you. No rolling, no stacking, no encounters with surly bank employees who’d rather be enduring Chinese water torture than dealing with a piggy bank full of coins.
Coinstar’s fees are a little steep. They take 9%, which some people have equated with highway robbery. They point out that it costs Coinstar the same amount to count 10 pennies as it does 10 quarters, yet they charge a lot more to count a quarter than a penny.
But I forgive Coinstar their hefty fees because it’s hard to put a price on not having to sort and roll 1,000 coins one by one. My time is worth more than that.
I used to be the same way with coins, but try moving 45 minutes north to L.A. There is no free parking in L.A. so you need something for meters or if you need to pay a parking attendentant and your wallet is empty. I need quarters desperately for laundry, and find myself running out of them more often than not.