Eight things to hate about the penny

Scott Feschuk: A penny saved is the worst thing ever

Photo illustration by Levi Nicholson

The penny is on its way out, and it’s about time because the penny is JUST AWFUL. Think of the Canadian coin family as the Kardashians. The one-cent piece is far and away the most annoying, pointless and utterly useless member of the family—which means the penny is all the Kardashians. That’s how awful it is.

Pennies are so awful they could support a list enumerating the ways in which they are awful:

1. Finding pennies in your pocket. Sometimes we think we possess actual money—but when we dig out the handful of coins weighing down our pants, we discover, like, 17 cents. Perfect. I think I’ll treat myself to a big nothing full of nothing! THANKS, PENNIES.

2. Getting stuck with pennies. When I was a kid, we used to carry around those UNICEF boxes on Halloween—and my neighbours pretty much took them as an invitation to empty their penny jars. After three houses, the box was approximately as heavy as the moon. Yet people were so pleased with themselves for making a “donation.” Africa thanks you, Mrs. Hart. WOULD YOU LIKE A TAX RECEIPT FOR THOSE 13 CENTS?

3. Seeing a penny on the ground. Oh, God, this is the WORST. Part of me is always, “I’m going to keep walking because this one-cent piece is essentially worthless and also probably covered in dog pee.” But then I hear that nagging voice in my head: “Oooooooh! Check out Mr. Rockefeller von Monopoly Guy! Too rich to be bothered to acquire free money!” So in the end I always stop and the whole way down it’s always the same internal monologue: “Oh, man, am I really doing this? Am I really bending down to pick up a stupid penny? Oh my God I just bent down to pick up a penny.” Finding money should make you happy, not Hamlet.

4. The societal cost. Did you know that having to deal with pennies has cost the Canadian economy $78 billion in lost productivity every year? It hasn’t, but it’s a plausible excuse and now let’s use it for nickels.

5. The penny’s composition. As recently as 1996, our penny was 98 per cent copper. Boring, but legit. The 2012 version contains 4.5 per cent copper—little more than a thin copper coating, really. Apparently, our one-cent piece is a middle-aged woman who can’t stop getting work done. Just accept that you’ve grown into a cold disc of steel and move on, okay? YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL AS YOU ARE.

6. Rolling pennies. Ever sit down in front of the TV with your coin jar? It’s kind of exciting, right? I’m going to roll these suckers and have enough to buy me an iPod! Four hours later, in a haze of sweat and profanity, you’re carrying three metric tons of coins to the bank and walking out with $19. And a penny hernia.

It takes so long to count and wrap each roll of 50 pennies that I usually spend the whole time thinking, “Why am I doing this? My time is worth more than this. GRRRRR—PENNIES.” And eventually I just give up counting. Some rolls will probably have 52 pennies. Others may have 49 or 46. And here’s the thing: no one cares. I don’t care. Even the bank doesn’t care. Think about that: an institution that exists solely to care about money doesn’t care if I’m ripping them off by two pennies per roll. It makes you think. Specifically, it makes you think pennies have always been stupid.

7. Paying for things with pennies. Simply put, there is no way to spend your pennies without infuriating every other person in line. Plunk down more than 10 pennies on a counter and the people behind you will react as though you just punched a puppy in the face. YOU MONSTER! Pour out 25 pennies or more and every Canadian adult is legally entitled to kick you once in the shinbone. It’s in the Constitution.

8. The Take-a-Penny tray. Or as it should be called: PETRI DISH OF POCKET LINT AND HOBO BOOGERS.

Perhaps you’re wondering: wasn’t there one good thing about the penny? The answer is: yes, there was exactly one good thing about it. If you flipped over a pre-1965 penny, the Queen looked pretty hot. That is the only good thing, ever, about the penny.

Good riddance, Kashdashicoin.

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk




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Eight things to hate about the penny

  1. OMG! Thanks for the laugh, almost peed my britches reading the article. So i guess the penny is always good for a laugh.

  2. Another good one! And I can laugh, cause I did just roll pennies on the weekend…

  3. Obviously most people neither know or care that the penny is a reminder of the debasement of our currency.
    A penny in Saxon times was silver and heavy enough to do serious injury. A man’s wages for a day. Over the years it became smaller and worse less as governments debased it.
    We were being paid more with money that was worth less.
    If you dont know history, you will be doomed to repeat it.

  4. “A nickel for your thoughts” seem too much to pay for some now…

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