Tragedy Strikes A Great Idea
An anonymous friend of mine agreed to cash in his 10-year-old stepdaughter’s change collection and start her first savings account. I was informed of this decision and asked to participate in the endeavor. Knowing that learning to save is a critical skill for anybody, and realizing that I lack that skill myself, I decided I would help get the project off the ground.
Now the change was housed within the plastic walls of his step daughter’s “piggy bank”, which is a deceiving name because it was not shaped like a pig at all. It was shaped like a big purple crayon. I have never trusted the color purple and now I know why. Half way between his door and the car, the bottom of the “bank” gave way and all of the change went clanging all over the ground. I have heard of pennies from heaven, but this was ridiculous.
There were some angry words spoken at our immediate misfortune, but both realizing the value of our mission, and not wanting to disappoint anyone, we started to do the only sensible thing we could do, we started picking up the coins for deposit. This should have been an easy process, but my friend and I can’t ever seem to do anything without fighting and arguing about it. What is the best way to pick up the most coins? How do you get the least amount of mud and pine needles in the bucket? We both differed quite a bit in technique and in the acceptable ratio of pine needles to coins.
Pine Needles Don’t Count
I am from the school of “Let’s get this done as quickly as possible”. So to my thinking, there are going to be a certain number of pine needles and mud, no matter what you do, so you might as well just pick up the coins as quickly as possible. And that is how I proceeded and was chastised for my technique and effort.
My friend had the idea that if there were one or two pine needles in the mix the change machine at the bank would reject his money and there would be a heartbroken 10-year-old out there and it would be at least partly my fault. I was not from this school of thinking, and freely shared this thought and criticized his technique as slow and inefficient. Our bickering actually made the time of picking up the coins go by quickly, and before we knew it, a combination of techniques had picked up about $150 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.
I Was Wrong
As my friend continued to clean pine needles from the hoard of coins, I continued to give him free advice as to how to complete the job quicker and with better results. He ignores all of my ideas out of hand, it is his conditioning. But I thought my idea of using gravity to separate coins from needles was just brilliant and quick. He had other ideas. Then finally, the needle ratio reached an acceptable level for him and we were off to the bank. At the bank, he started to deposit the coins into the machine and all was fine at first. Then the machine jammed because we definitely didn’t reduce the pine needle ratio enough. This was a miscalculation on my part because I wouldn’t have removed any, and my friend was trying to remove every one of those pesky needles. In hindsight, I guess he must have been right.
In the end, we got the job done. There is one more child with a savings account in the world and she can now learn the value of saving her money, and how neat it is to watch the overall value of the account grow. My friend learned that those machines at the bank do not have an unlimited pine needle to coin ratio on them. I learned: You can’t trust purple, plastic crayons, you can’t tell your friend how to use gravity, although pine needles don’t bother me, they can really mess up machines and that although learning to save is a worthwhile endeavor, it can be time-consuming.
In the end, I was left to conclude because of our fighting and my friend’s insistence on ignoring my great advice and doing everything his way that The more things “change”, the more they stay the same.