‘Keep the change,’ dismissed the lad with a wave of his hand as he loped out of the shop.
I shook my head and raised my eyebrows at my colleague Linda on the next till as I dropped the schoolboy’s eleven pence into our shop’s charity box.
‘Kids today,’ I said.
‘I agree,’ she replied. ‘Don’t we sound like our parents once did?’
‘They were right though. Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. I put my copper coins in a big vase and count them up when it’s full. It usually comes to about ten pounds. Which may not seem like a lot, but it’s ten pounds I wouldn’t have otherwise had.’
‘You can still do plenty with ten pounds,’ mused Linda.
‘Some would disagree, but I’m with you on that.’
‘The whole thing is an attitude of mind. People who dismiss the value of a few coins are probably the same people who think a tenner is nothing. I certainly didn’t think a tenner was nothing when I was saving the deposit for my house.’
‘Nor me. I used to have a fit if there was ever an emergency and I had to take money out of the savings account. Becoming a homeowner was a big thing for me. The first property we owned might have only been a one-bedroom flat but to me it was my own little bit of paradise. It was a ground floor flat and we had sole use of the garden.’
‘George and I bought our Council house over thirty years ago,’ reminisced Linda. ‘I remember how we scrimped at first. I certainly didn’t leave my change behind, and I’m still careful with my money.’
‘Have you noticed how some of our customers seem to hate coins?’
‘Yes, I know what you mean. The ones who moan about their purses being weighed down. Sometimes I feel like pointing out that they should be grateful to have such a problem.’
‘Do you know, last week a woman emptied her purse on the counter and expected me to count up all the small coins towards her purchases, never mind the people waiting behind her. Then she expected me to change the remainder for notes. I felt like pointing out this is a shop, not a bank.’
‘Some customers certainly push their luck,’ chuckled Linda.
‘At least we can put the school kids’ change in the charity box. I like to think it will do some good.’
‘I suppose you’re right,’ sighed Linda. ‘It’s another case of coins mounting up and becoming a worthwhile sum. I suppose I shouldn’t be so tight-fisted with my small change but it’s in my nature.’
‘Neither a lender nor a borrower be,’ I added.
‘The only money I’ve ever borrowed was the mortgage on our house,’ said Linda. ‘This country wouldn’t be in the mess it is today if so many people hadn’t taken out loans in order to keep up with the Joneses and have new stuff all the time.’
‘Oh, I agree! Most of my furniture is second-hand. Too many young couples these days set their sights higher than their budgets, I’m afraid. They won’t look twice at second-hand furniture. I’d rather buy something second-hand and do it up, put my individual touch on it.’
‘I’m not as creative as you, but we’ve certainly got our share of second-hand stuff and there’s nothing wrong with it. Better to give something a new home rather than chuck it away. That’s just plain wasteful,’ said Linda, pursing her lips.
‘That’s another way in which this world has gone to the dogs. Wastefulness. The amount of food that gets thrown away for a start. People who buy too much and don’t eat it before it spoils. And people who throw away half their dinner. Mind you, if I didn’t clear my plate every night this uniform wouldn’t be as tight,’ I added, tweaking the waistband of my trousers.
‘Best not to put so much on your plate to start with,’ said my slender colleague smugly.
‘Time for me to go,’ I said, glancing at the clock.
Five minutes later I was back at Linda’s till, fishing in my purse for loose change.
‘You could always put those coins in the charity box instead of buying that chocolate bar,’ she said with a grin.
‘Charity begins at home, and I need some energy to get me there,’ I said, laying claim to my chocolate before Linda could get her hands on it.
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015