Saturday, August 6, 2011

Penny for your thoughts

After spending a month supervising high school students, I eased myself back into post-camp society by visiting my little cousins; same noise level, same attention span, just in smaller packages.

After permanently attaching herself to my leg, my 6 year old cousin Annie proposed a challenge: Find something that costs no more than a penny.

She had been collecting pennies and had graciously shared a whole cent of her wealth with me. Though she admitted that “things aren’t what they used to be”, she was convinced that I would be able to purchase something like a stuffed animal, Canadian flag, or jewelry with my new riches. She even helped me practice my puppy dog eyes, a bargaining tool that she has perfected, to help me stay within budget. Unfortunately, my “cute” face ended up looking more like an “I’m nauseous please get out of the way” face so I was left simply with cash on hand.

Being older and, as I understood, automatically wiser, I was sure that we would not be able to buy anything for a penny. Each place we went, I looked for an opportunity to partner with the salesperson, paying a single cent in front of Annie and later sneaking them the rest of the sale price. Alas, I am as stealthy as an elephant on bubble wrap so my little charade never panned out.

That's some solid savings right thur 
It was the last day of our mini family reunion and I still had to unload my funds. As we shuffled our family procession through Ontario Place, we passed a Coppertone sunscreen booth and I overheard, “Yes sir. Any donation, one cent or more, will get you all these products”. I immediately ran over to find Annie and dragged her back to the Coppertone woman. I excitedly explained to Annie that she could get tons of stuff from this booth for a penny. She proceeded to trade in her collection for sample size Coppertone bottles for the whole family and four UV-indicating bracelets.

Since she had hoped to buy a giant plush toy with her coins, Annie was slightly underwhelmed by her purchases. I, on the other hand, was astounded. I had been 153% sure that we would not find anything for a penny. My immediate response to the proposed challenge had been elaborate schemes with an underlying hope that Annie would forget our endeavour and get distracted by something more attainable. And yet, there I was; one penny poorer and rich in sunscreen and UV-protection.

Lesson learned: Sometimes you need to trade your old perspective in for some change.

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