loose change

Loose change

Loose change.

We all have it. We all deal with it. We all wonder what the heck to do with it.

A long time ago I got a mammoth glass jar—the kind that you think of when someone says “moonshine.” Clear, handled, with a neck. Holds about 50 gallons of hair-growing swill brewed up along a creek at the bottom of a remote Tennessee mountain by men with beards down to their kneecaps, dressed in roomy overalls and blue plaid shirts.

Yeah, that kind of jar. I don’t remember where I got it. Certainly not from Tennessee and certainly not full of any hair-growing swill.

I kept it in my closet and it served as the repository for all of my loose change. It just stayed there and became a fixture that I never even saw, except when I threw change into it.

It took a number of years, but it finally got full. Quarters, nickels, dimes, pennies—they were all in there.

I knew it was time to turn it all in and start over.

But what to do with the change?

I called the bank. Turned out they had a machine that you could dump mixed change into and the machine would sort it all for you.

So I got a wheelbarrow and put the jar of change into it and rolled it into the bank.

Just kidding.

I had no wheelbarrow. I carried that jar in all by my lonesome and it had to have weighed two hundred pounds. ‘Bout cracked the countertop when I set it down.

You wanna know how much change was in that jar, when the machine had it all sorted and counted?

Two hundred freaking dollars! Two hundred!

I had NO IDEA it would add up to that much. I was floored.

It’s been so long ago that I can’t remember now what I did with that money. I just remember the amount that was in the jar and how surprised I was.

Somewhere along the way, in one move or another, I lost that big jar. I replaced it with another jar—a smaller one that wouldn’t break my back to take it to the bank.

And I refilled that with change over time.

The next time I went to the bank to have them sort it, they said they didn’t do that. But that there were sorting machines at the front of some grocery stores, and for a fee, you could use them. Or, said the bank, you can sort it yourself, roll it, and bring in the rolls of change to deposit into your account or switch out for bills.

That sounded like way too much work. Until I found a machine in a grocery store and saw how much you had to pay to use it.

Lugged the jar back home, got coin roll papers from the bank, and had a little coin-rolling party with me, my coins, my coin papers, and a bottle of wine.

It ended up being kind of fun. I know, I don’t get out much. But it was. And it also went a lot faster than I expected.

I got all those babies rolled up pretty fast and voila! My change jar was empty again. And I had a hundred dollars. Free money! Sort of.

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