“Could you spare some change?”
I often hear this request from the residents of a nursing home where I serve. This usually occurs when I walk by the vending machine near my therapy gym. The residents roll up in their wheelchairs and ask for a dollar or seventy-five cents—enough for a sweet bun or a bag of chips. I don’t carry cash with me, so I offer an apology and keep walking.
One day, as we wrapped up his OT session, an unassuming resident mumbled quietly, “Do you have a dime?” I offered my usual excuse of empty pockets. With small shuffles of his feet, he propelled his wheelchair forward. He asked my co-worker, “Do you have a dime?” She pulled a coin out of her money pouch and placed it in his wrinkled hand.
Because gravity and age hold his head down, I could see his smile only from the side of his face. He leaned to the left to slip his treasure into his pocket. A nickel fell out, and he gathered it to tuck both coins in deeper. Fifteen cents wouldn’t buy anything in the vending machine; his request piqued my curiosity.
I asked my co-worker if he always asks for small coins. She affirmed, “People are reluctant to part with a dollar, but they are willing to give him a dime or a nickel. If he asks plenty of people, he eventually gets enough for a snack.”
The craftiness and patience of my quiet friend amaze me. He demonstrates the power of small change. He celebrates a little victory each time he adds a coin to his coffers.
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Photo credit: Morgan Sessions via Unsplash.