Who Do You Want to Be?

by Katy on November 23, 2015 · 60 comments


I was walking through the grocery store this afternoon when the woman in front of me spilled a few coins from her pocket. She stopped, looked down at the ground and then continued with her shopping.

She chose to walk away from her money. Sure, it was only 35¢, but last time I checked, large amounts of money are made up of small amounts of money.

I started to think about how there were two women in this situation. A woman who walks away from money and a woman who’s willing to reach down and pick up money.

Who do you want to be?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth November 23, 2015 at 4:09 am

Definitely the kind that reaches down to pick it up! 🙂


laura November 23, 2015 at 4:17 am

Definitely the woman who reaches down to pick up the money!!!! That is a no brainer for me! I always have been that way and always will be that way! It is amazing to me that some would walk away from any amount of money. There has been a dime sitting on the counter at my work now for a about a week and it is driving me crazy – I am going to ask if it is any bodies and then claim it as my own if it is not. Hey a dime is a dime and ten dimes make a dollar!!!


Jennifer November 23, 2015 at 4:48 am

I definately am the type that picks up change but I have not always been. I am ashamed to say I used to leave pennies where they fell. Bad I know, but I have changed a lot over time. Not because I am poor, in fact, I have a great income. I just realize how fortunate I am to have what I do and not all people are so fortunate. Any situation can change in the blink of an eye and I know that and am greatful for what I have so I try to keep it. Happy Thanksgiving!


Linda M November 23, 2015 at 5:45 am

I am definitely a pick it up person. Last week I went to lunch with two friends and there was a penny under the booth. Well, of course I picked it up and recited the old poem I was taught as a child. “Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you will have good luck.” Neither of them had heard that and chuckled. Little things grow into big things. You can bet I will continue my “coin collecting”.


Kim from Philadelphia November 23, 2015 at 6:10 am

I worked with a woman who would throw her change in the trash can. The first time I saw her do this I was floored. I approached her and said instead of tossing it in the trash give it to me. So I put out a small bank on my desk and collected her change for her. Felt no obligation to share with her since it was headed to the trash!


Laura November 23, 2015 at 6:21 am

Throw it in the trash?! I am appalled.


Jennifer November 23, 2015 at 6:47 am

Wow, that is sickening. However, lots of people throw money away in many ways besides actually putting in the trash so I guess this isn’t all that surprising after all.


Karin November 23, 2015 at 10:57 am

I was picking up my prescription the other day at CVS and the cashier wanted to throw my money away. I had received a bunch of gift cards and used one of them to pay. After the transaction was completed, there were 59 cents left on the card. The cashier looked at me and said:”oh, I can just toss it for you, that way you don’t have to bother with it.” I checked with her about there being money left on the card and get the reply:” but it is not even a dollar, surely you don’t want to clutter up your wallet with a card that does not even have a dollar on it. And next time, you will Jane to remember that you have it and go through all the hassle for not even one dollar.” Ahem, yes I did want my card back and one month later when I picked my prescription up, I used my remaining 59 cents. No hassle involved and my wallet did not mind holding that card for an extra month either.

[WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.


K D November 23, 2015 at 6:25 am

It blows my mind when people literally throw money away, but I dislike waste of all kinds. I have always picked up coins. I am excited that my found change jar is almost full. I last emptied it on March 1st. I will probably empty it at the end of the month.


Carolyn November 23, 2015 at 6:47 am

I pick it up and read the text aloud, “In God We Trust”, it reminds me He is always with me. So I not only take it as gaining a few cents, but a daily reminder.


Ruby November 23, 2015 at 8:12 am

Bending down to pick up stray money is a rare instance of being paid to exercise, so I’m all over that. 😀


erin brain stead November 23, 2015 at 8:17 am

The only time I haven’t picked up money is when I was hugely pregnant. LOL Otherwise, it adds up!


tonya parham November 23, 2015 at 8:25 am

Over my adult years (and even as a kid) I have been wasteful in many ways, but I always pick money up. Except for one time, when I did literally throw money away on the ground. I’ll explain.

My father was a compulsive change hunter– he never was a frugal man, but he loved to find change. He’d park at the very back of the parking lot just so he could walk the parking lot to get to the store, looking for change. He’d pick up any change he saw.

When I was in my early 20s, I was a waitress and got change all the time– I loved getting change– I’d save it. Hell, I’d hoard it! Then when times were tight, I’d cash it in or I would keep it for Christmas.

But, one day when I went to see Daddy– he was mentally ill and often plagued by extreme depressive swings– and I just thought, I’m going to throw all my work change out here in his yard and he’s gonna love finding it. So, I did– he lived in a house that had several apartments but his was the only one on that side of the house.

Three weeks later, I was taking him somewhere and he said to me, “Snookie, I don’t know what is going on, but I want you to know, I’ve found $2.76 in my yard over the last couple of weeks!” He sounded like a kid on Christmas! I laughed so hard I nearly drove off the road. So, I don’t know what sort of person that made me then, but even now, I don’t regret it one bit! He’s been gone 20 years this December, and I still make sure when I am walking around to scope out possible change floating around.


Monica November 23, 2015 at 8:55 am

I love that story!


A. Marie November 23, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Bless you, Tonya. You were a good daughter under difficult circumstances.


Marci November 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm

My father was a depressive as well. If $2.76 or even $20.76 thrown in his yard would have helped, I’d have done it a thousand times over. I can imagine your memory of doing that brings you great satisfaction, as well it should! Bravo for you!


Diedra November 24, 2015 at 8:03 am

That is the sweetest thing ever. You reached out to the Dad he always was even when he wasn’t quite himself.
omg I’m tearing up


tonya parham November 25, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Thanks, guys.

I find I’m missing him quite a bit this holiday season so it was nice to share that memory of him!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Dayna November 23, 2015 at 8:57 am

I wasn’t there but I can think of many reasons off the top of my head why some one wouldn’t pick up change they drop. Bad back, running extremely late, or they figure some one who needs/wants it more would pick it up. We all get to decide what $.35 means to us on any given day.


Jack Perry November 23, 2015 at 9:40 am

Yeah, as someone with bad joints, it’d depend on the day for me. I might decide that $.35 isn’t worth the pain and the possibility of making it worse.


Hannah K November 26, 2015 at 4:17 am

Right. I pick up change, but I don’t judge other people who don’t, I certainly don’t want to be that person. I don’t believe you can judge someone’s character based on whether they’re willing or able to bend over in public for 35¢.


Lazyretirementgirl November 27, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Thank you all for these comments. These explanations would not have occurred to me, and your insights, I hope, will help me be more compassionate.


Mariana Cisowska November 23, 2015 at 9:08 am

Picking it all up here. A penny earned (found) is a penny saved after all 😉


Marion Graves November 23, 2015 at 9:28 am

One summer during early morning walks I picked up change and put it in a separate jar. By fall I had found $37.00, a fleece jacket and a dive watch. You bet I pick up change!


A. Marie November 23, 2015 at 11:39 am

I’ve been picking up coins since my childhood BFF and I used to play under the bleachers at a very small college’s basketball games (we were 10 or 11 years old at the time, and this was about the mid-1960s). We used to find all kinds of change and other stuff down there. The only real problem was deciding how to divide the change evenly when we came up with odd-numbered amounts like 37 cents. Those were the days!


Julie November 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

I would pick it up ! We have a found change jar and it is growing .


Lindsey November 23, 2015 at 11:58 am

A serious accident resulted in a back that is like glass—the slightest twist the wrong way and I am in agony (surgery didn’t help). My nightmare is things that fall on the ground (please remember that you people who think it is cute to put glitter in your holiday cards, so that it rains down on the floor when the recipient opens the envelope). I have to decide if the dropped item is important enough to risk the pain and perhaps weeks of being out of commission. So, yes, I’d leave the 35 cents on the ground…in fact, I’d probably leave anything less than $10 on the ground.


Beth November 23, 2015 at 1:44 pm

I had someone send me a graduation card with confetti and glitter in it once. GLITTER. I opened it on my bed because I didn’t know. Though I don’t have major back issues as you’ve described, and it was on my bed instead of the floor, I found that extremely frustrating.


Karen November 23, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Lindsey I hear you! My back is the same way so it depends on the day. If I’m feeling pretty good I will pick up change but if it’s a bad day, I give it a pass.


Bettypants November 23, 2015 at 12:48 pm

I WANT to be the kind of person who just tosses bills out her window as she drives along, for the less fortunate to pick up. I AM the kind of person is still tickled she found a quarter in the grass last week.


Jane November 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm

I’d like to think I would have picked up the change and returned it to the lady who dropped it. Picking up change on the street or in a parking lot is a whole other thing. Like Lindsey, bending over is no longer something I can do so I’d like to think that if I had dropped some change, someone would offer to pick it up for me.


Dawn November 24, 2015 at 5:51 pm

I do this, Jane, and you would not believe how many people look at you like you are crazy when you hand them their dropped change. Some seem pleasantly surprised, though, so it feels like a good thing to do.


Beth November 23, 2015 at 1:41 pm

If I am being honest, it depends on the situation. Just a penny? Nope-it can stay there. A quarter, dime, or nickel (or any combination of change involving said coins)? I’ll most likely pick them up. Is it change that I dropped and NEED to make a purchase right then and there? I’d pick that up. Is it someone else’s discarded change that wasn’t mine to begin with? I might/might not, depending on how much/where it’s located. Am I going to have to crawl around on my hands and knees/search under racks or shelves to get it or can I just bend over and pick it up? How tired/pregnant am I feeling that day? Did I just throw my back out? I almost need a flow chart to decide whether or not I’d pick up the change, lol!

So no, I don’t always pick up change, and as I’m typing this, I realize that I’m okay with that. By me NOT always picking up change, I leave it for others who DO want or need to pick it up.

I would argue, then, that there are actually three types of women: those who pick up money, those that walk away from money, and those that sometimes do either/or depending on their situation.


Nancy November 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm

I used to work with a young man who bought lunch every day. When he got back to the office he threw the change from his pockets into a glass jar he kept in his desk drawer. Except the pennies. Those, he threw in the garbage. I asked him why and he pointed to the glass jar and said, isn’t it pretty? The pennies would just make it look ugly. I brought a glass jar to work the next day, and said to him – why don’t you just throw your ugly pennies in there? By the end of the year, I had over $20. I used it to buy treats for the office.

So by this story, I guess you can tell, I would pick up the change (and do).


Susan November 23, 2015 at 3:15 pm

I want to be the kind of person who sees a person drop change and picks it up for them.


Isabelle November 23, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Right there with you Susan!


Beth November 24, 2015 at 6:53 am

This. This is exactly who I want to be!


Kim November 24, 2015 at 6:57 am

My thoughts exactly!


Reese November 23, 2015 at 3:48 pm

2 things…

1) My stepdad used to literally throw pennies away when he got them as change. Sure it takes a while to have them build up…but it’s STILL money! ugh.

2) I was talking with a pregnant girlfriend of mine (she’s 38 weeks!), and asked her what she’d do if she dropped a quarter. And she legit had to think about it…I nearly cried laughing. She would have to spend 30 minutes bending down, then dragging herself back up, and she wasn’t sure it was worth the humiliation or effort to pick up that quarter. I told her I’d pick it up for her and she could call anytime in the next two weeks that that happened 😉


Isabelle November 23, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Ars you sure the lady saw where the money went? She could have had vision problems. I would have picked it up only to give it back to her.
On the other hand if I find random money on the ground, I will pick it up,


Marilyn November 23, 2015 at 5:01 pm

I pick up any and all coins that I find on the ground. I consider it a sign of good luck to come. Usually, I only find a penny or two, but once When I was taking a walk I actually found a $5 bill in the gutter on the side of the road. That was a lucky day!


Sharyl November 23, 2015 at 6:38 pm

That happened to me on Saturday…I was in the checkout line and the woman in front dropped a quarter and a dime. She looked down about to get it..then said forget it and walked away. I reached to help her and picked it up….she said its yours now??? Geesh…go figure. My father once told me never be so rich that a penny is not important. I will never forget that. Happy Thanksgiving week!


Tammy November 23, 2015 at 6:46 pm

I always pick up money that I find on the ground!

Once I found a $20 bill on the sidewalk when I went for an early morning walk.


Anne November 23, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Once my brother was driving in a wooded, rural area and he pulled the car over to, uh, answer the call of nature. He stepped a bit off the road and saw a twenty dollar bill, then another one a little further on, then another one. I remember he ended up with well over a hundred bucks.

We tried to theorize how this could be. Drug deal in the woods? Fighting couple throwing bucks out the window? Strong wind in the front seat of the car? Of course we never figured it out but laughed about it for years.


quiteandquieter November 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Let’s assume one of us is a woman in a grocery store, and let’s talk as if we are in the first person….

I’m in the grocery store. I’m usually a pretty sensitive person, and often get a good read on people even if I don’t know them.

I noticed another woman, obviously very frugal, who seemed to me is having trouble funding her son’s college tuition.

Then I dropped some coins. I was going to pick them up. But then I realized that this other woman probably needs the coins more than I do. So I’ll pretend that I don’t care about them, and I’ll walk away.


Cas November 24, 2015 at 12:55 am

I definitely pick up any change , I also save bits of change from shopping just 1p 5 p . I have just taken £27 to the bank , it’s so worth picking up change


Kate in NY November 24, 2015 at 5:08 am

I also pick up change, but I am aware that there are other associations with this action, and I can understand why some might be reluctant to do it. My son recently confided in me that even at his fairly progressive, liberal suburban NY high school, kids love to “tease” each other with racial/ethnic stereotypes. My son is adopted from Africa, and apparently, his friends will often “joke” – “Hey, are you going to KFC after the game?” or whatever. The Jewish kids get “hey, aren’t you going to pick that penny off of the ground?” So aside from the fact that this is horrible and ignorant and I am certainly talking about it with my son and the school – – – there is a negative stereotype associated with picking up money from the ground. I am Jewish myself, and since I am happy to be frugal, this doesn’t bother me – it even makes me proud. But for others, who knows – maybe the reasons they walk by dropped money are more complicated than we can understand.


Isabelle November 24, 2015 at 5:52 am

Back in the days my mom (no dad around) was struggling financially, approaching Christmas shopping with fear of not having enough to get us gifts. So she got to the mall and saw a piece of paper on the ground she thought might be money, grabbed it and walked away. After a couple of minutes she took it out her pocket to realize it was a 100$ bill! That paid the gifts for us (2 kids) this year!


Elizabeth November 24, 2015 at 6:17 am

I worked at CVS a few years ago. Had a customer ask me which pack of batteries was cheapest overall (not per battery) so I assumed money was tight. He took the cheapest one, added beer and cigarettes (which I’ll admit, I judged a little)…then literally threw the .11 of change at me saying “I don’t want that” …I was floored. Maybe you could afford the bigger pack of batteries if you didn’t toss your change at unsuspecting cashiers :/

My sister won’t pick it up if it’s not a dime or higher. She decided it’s not worth bending over. Not sure why, she’s not rich.


marie November 24, 2015 at 6:47 am

I used to clean for a woman that never picked up her change off her own floor.
I picked out a nice glass out of her cupboard, and started putting all the change into before i’d vacuum. After a awhile, she asked me to just get rid of it. weird!


Paul Rippey November 24, 2015 at 7:22 am

I’d pick up a dime and a quarter, but I wouldn’t pick up 35 pennies. A quarter is useful, since I can put it in parking meters (they still take coins in some places) and use them to round up tips and such. But they are useful for convenience, not for purchasing power.


Diedra November 24, 2015 at 8:06 am

I’ve been thinking of inventing a cane that picks the change up and deposits it right by the handle but I have no engineering/design skills. I keep thinking elderly people who can’t bend might like something like that.


Vickie November 24, 2015 at 8:26 am

Oh yes, I would definitely take the time to pick it up!


Cheri November 24, 2015 at 10:11 am

I pick up any money I find. The I say a silent prayer, “Thank you for the abundance you have allowed to flow into my life.” (I got it from Dr. Wayne Dyer.) The only exception I can think of was at the airport. There were several coins under the bag scanner at TSA. I pulled a dine and nickel out with my foot. I resisted crawling under the machine; it is an x-ray and the TSA agents have no sense of humor.


Karen November 25, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Thanks Cheri – I’m going to try to remember that silent prayer from Dr. Dyer. It is very powerful!


Carole Z. November 24, 2015 at 10:16 am

Last week I was going somewhere with a friend. She had parked on the street so I stopped to check the mail. I noticed that right at the curb (by our leaves) was a Dollar bill. It made me feel lucky all day.


Jill November 24, 2015 at 10:45 am

I’m a pick it up person. So is my daughter. My husband is a leave it person, at least around the house! I pick up HIS change and put it in MY piggybank. I figure if he doesn’t care enough to pick it up, then it’s free for anyone.


Karen November 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm

I have never thought so much about this. There were some very interesting responses.

I used to pick up all money including pennies. Then I had a friend say if he bent down to pick up a penny with his luck (he was having a hard year) his back would go out and cost him a lot more than a penny to fix.

I thought about this and thought it was funny. But now I realize I have stopped picking up pennies. And I never see any other money on the ground than pennies. It always amazes me that everyone finds so much money on the ground.


Dawn November 24, 2015 at 5:55 pm

I used to run competitively and found all kinds of strange and wonderful (and scary!) things while running. The best were a $100 bill and a bouquet of a dozen red roses (not on the same day.) The $100 came the day after I had rescued a horse from a neglectful situation and transporting him to my farm had cost..you guessed it..$100. Karma! The roses sparked a lot of fun imagining the scenarios which might have brought them to their place on the side of the road.


Michelle H. November 26, 2015 at 5:10 am

I’m usually picking up change everywhere I go, but toward the end of my last pregnancy I hit a point where I really had to decide if something was worth going to all the effort to reach the ground!


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