Would You Pick Up Penny? The Value of Things

I’ve been running an experiment for the past week. I dropped a penny in the walkway outside of my office to see how long it would take someone to pick it up. It’s not a well-traveled path, but there are probably twenty people who go by it a day, including my employees.

The penny has been there for six days, just laying there conspicuously in the middle of the walkway.

To be honest, I am always one to pick up coins I find in a public space such as a walkway or parking lot. I think it is more out of the joy of finding money, even if it is on only a small coin. 

I’ve thought about not picking up what I find as I’m sure the joy that a five-year-old would get from finding a coin would far exceed that which I could experience. By picking up the coin, would I be denying someone else an opportunity to find it? For sure, and if I knew a kid would find it, I would undoubtedly walk by, but my sense is that coin picker-uppers come in all ages.

Do you pick up money on the ground?

I surmise from my experience that a penny is just not worth the effort in most people’s minds. It can’t buy anything, and you need at least 100 of them to get a candy bar, so finding a penny does not move most people’s economic condition. 

If a business sold 1,000,000 widgets and increased the price by just 2 cents, it would add $20,000 to the top line. 

So, yes, pennies are valuable, but just not so much anymore. Would I complain if we got rid of pennies? Probably, because, as I know, as a business owner, you always round up with pricing. And, besides, with no pennies to find, those who do find some joy in picking them up would be robbed of the experience. I wonder if the nickel would become the new penny?

POSTSCRIPT: The penny made it 11 days before someone picked it up. Or maybe it was blown away by maintenance by leaf blowers?