Archive for the ‘In Traffic’ Category

Take the blinders off & look around!! Life's offering you joy at every turn. Are you able to SEE it?!

Sometimes I get notes from penny finders that absolutely make my day.  Pictures of finds, words of encouragement about my penny-finding obsession, or stories of my freinds’ own penny obsessed lives!   But sometimes the notes are way more than just a story.  Sometimes they get right to the HEART of what this project is all about.  And those notes…they make my week! 

This one was one such note.  A penny finding friend of a friend whom I’ve never even met in person but who clearly gets why it’s important to pay attention to the little joys life brings us! 

A big thanks to you, Sebouh for seeing the magic a penny can bring.  You didn’t just make my week…you made my month!  😉

I spoke to Nicole earlier this evening about the power of the penny and what it has meant to me in the past few weeks.  I explained to her that to me, the symbolism and act of manifesting the pennies or change, is the process that has been so impactful to me thus far.
It comes at a time where there is a fair amount of change going on in my life.  I am so excited about all of the change that I don’t know what to do.  Sometimes, I don’t know who to share the change with.  Just today, on my way to my sister’s house I was able to spot change while I was driving!  I pulled over, made sure I wasn’t about to get hit by oncoming traffic and honed in on the quarter that I spotted from my driver seat.  Then I continued to peruse the street and found another quarter and 3 more dimes.  It was quite astonishing and as I explained to Nicole earlier tonight, the grin on my face could have lit up a small village.
In short, (and I really mean in short) I wanted to share with you how much it has meant for me to be a part of this program.
Listen to how I worded it, program.
It’s not a program.

You don’t have to sign-up.
There is no fee required.
It empowers you to open your eyes – WIDER

And soak in more than you have previously.
It’s a wonderful thing and so I thank you.


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Who's the clown at the drive thru?!

One of the best parts about being me is the calls I get about penny finding. These calls are absolutely priceless and come more often than you’d think! Not a week after jumping out of my car at an on ramp, I got a call from one of my best friends telling me she’d done the same thing!

A few weeks ago I got a call from my dad saying he was stopped at a light and spied a few pennies out his window. He opened the door to get out and my mom yelled, “Do you see pennies?!” Not only did he think it was totally natural to just jump out of the car at this intersection…but my mom knew exactly what he was doing. And dare I say, she was jealous SHE didn’t see them so she could be the one to jump out in traffic!

Since many of these calls are conversations that I know the gist of but don’t have recorded, I can’t share the specifics of them with you. BUT…I do occasionally get a voice mail message. Those I CAN share with you!

Below are two recent voice mails I received Re: The Penny Project. I tried to punctuate to convey the emotion of the messages. Not sure I was 100% accurate…but I think you get the idea.

Enjoy what comes after my “beep”…and know that your penny messages are always welcome!
Call #1:
Hey Leslie, it’s Julia. I hope you’re havin’ a good week. I understand you’re being exhausted but I have this great penny story that I just had to share with you.

I was trying to go to Target near your house, um, for my little midnight run and unfortunately it closes at 10 and I got there at like 10 after 10, hoping that it was open until 11. No luck.

Anyhow…As I was crossing the street to get to the other side…um…I saw a penny. But it was buried in the tar so like the tail side was up and, um…but I had like 25 seconds…to cross. So I dug it out Leslie. I dug it out. I did. And I have the penny now with the dirty Lincoln face to show for it. That I hope to pass on to you. Soon.

Alright chica, God bless you. Will talk to you soon. Bye.

Call #2:
Penny, penny, penny, dime. YES! 13 cents at the McDonald’s drive thru. Oh yeahhhh.

So I looked like an idiot. I was like, “Oh…I dropped my change.” (Laughing) And she like rolled her eyes at me but I don’t care ’cause I got 13 more cents. I do have a lot of dimes come up for this year.

Ok, bye.

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You probably thought it couldn’t get any sillier than me hopping out of my car on the way though toll booths on the way home from my sister’s house. But you’d be wrong.

The weekend after my infamous toll booth score (tolls paid = $1.25, money found = $1.26, net gain = $.01), I had to go out to Ashburn again for a surprise slumber/birthday party (yes, this is my life). There were 4 of us in the car on the way out there and of course, I asked if anyone would mind a small delay in the toll booth area as I perused the road for dropped change.

Being my friends, the girls agreed (although they clearly thought I was nuts). Turns out it was an even better score than before as I found almost $1.50 at one of the toll booths. Yahoo! I was pretty excited and couldn’t wait to share my find with the other slumber party attendees (although a good half of us were in this car!).

My friends are used to my particular brand of crazy by this point, so no one thought it was unusual that I’d had the driver follow behind me as I walked through the toll area in search of change. Well…at least it wasn’t unusual for me (which is kind of sad now that I think about it!).

We had a smashing time that evening which included several bottles of champagne, a game of 31-questions on how well we knew the birthday girl (who was turning 31…hence the 31 questions), and a midnight viewing of “Step It Up,” which may have been the highlight of the evening.

But the REAL highlight of the weekend came the next day when 3 of us headed back to the city…through two more toll booths!

As we approached the first one, I hopped out of the car and commenced searching as my friend eased up to the booth behind me. The attendant looked at me and shook his head but was clearly enjoying my little display of change-gathering. I told him not to worry…my friend had an EZ-pass and we were definitely paying the toll. I let him know the change would be going to charity. He didn’t seem to mind and was friendly about the whole exchange. Sweet…over 70 cents collect and one toll booth operator amused for the afternoon.

Off to toll booth stop #2.

At stop #2, the traffic was a little crazy in the lane we chose. The guy two cars ahead of us was having some issues. This didn’t bother me in the least as it just gave me more time for my search. I hopped out a few car lengths back from the toll collecting basket and started looking. When the big, red SUV between my friend & the guy slowing down traffic pulled forward…I was in change-finding heaven. There were quarters EVERYWHERE! It was a change bonanza!

I threw up the official sign for stop, just like I was one of the Supremes or something, and halted my friend as I proceeded to snatch up the quarters.

Suddenly, I heard a voice from behind me…”Ma’am! MA’AM!”

“Oh, don’t mind me,” I said. “I’m just picking up change for charity.”

The woman did not seem amused. “There’s cameras watching you!”

“Sweet!” I replied.

Apparently, this was not what she wanted to hear. “Ma’am…you can’t do that! There’s cameras.”

At this point I realized she was not at all like the amused toll booth operator from the first stop. She was more like an evil rule enforcer and was about to take down my friend’s plate #s to make sure we’d get a ticket. I jumped back in my friend’s car screaming, “Go! Go! Go!” as we headed out of the toll booth area.

I’m not sure she actually got the plate number (and there has been no ticket sent to my friend). But I am sure we had a major score at that stop…13 quarters plus other assorted change equalling $4.55. Talk about an exciting day for penny finders everywhere!

So that is my latest change finding excursion. It may or may not have resulted in a $50 ticket for breaking some kind of un-posted “don’t get out of your car in a toll-booth” rule…but at the end of the day, I think it was worth it. We laughed all the way home!

I realize my brand of crazy isn’t something everyone aspires to (although my sister apparently tried to stop in a toll area the next day when traffic was much heavier and called me in amazement over my ability to collect so much change via the toll roads!) but I encourage you to find your own brand of crazy. Something that only you might be willing to do…but you know you’ll have a great time doing it.

And if you find a penny along the way…be sure to let us know!

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It was not just a good penny day…but a ridiculously good penny day today. I found 15 pennies and…A QUARTER on my way to & from work.

It was exciting to have that many individual sightings. But for a moment, I thought perhaps someone was playing a joke on me. My friends have been known to throw pennies on the trail while we are hiking to test my penny prowess (I failed miserably…but who is on the lookout for change while rock scrambling on the Billy Goat Trail?! I’m good, but even pros need a day off now & then!). And all of these pennies, or at least a good portion of them (and the quarter too) were in the middle of the street! And I’m not talking about a crosswalk here…I mean smack dab in the center of traffic!

The first one wasn’t too far from the curb. I thought conceivably a guy had dropped some change while shuffling in his pockets to get quarters for the meter. But the next one, a few blocks later, was considerably further from the curb…out beyond the driver’s side door. What happened there?  Perhaps a lover’s quarrel that led to pennies being tossed in anger, “You cheat…I never want to see you again. Take that! (Insert a meanly tossed penny here).”

The best part was that I’d seen the second penny and was about to step in the street to pick it up when I realized a guy was trying to park his car in that space. So did I abandon the penny and move on like a normal person? I’m writing a blog about pennies…what do you think?! Of course not! I went around the front of the car as the driver got the vehicle settled in its cozy new spot and bent over to pick up the coin. I was right where the guy would have to open his door to get out and it occurred to me…this might look a little odd. So what do I do? I grab the penny and then show it to the driver as if to say, “I’m not trying to carjack you…I just wanted this penny.” The look on his face said he would have thought I was more sane if I was indeed carjacking him. A little embarrassing? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I love my pennies!

Finally, as I continued down 17th Street, still amazed by the brick gutters I’d discovered a few days earlier (why so fancy with the gutters?!) I saw the quarter in the middle of the road! Has jaywalking gotten that bad? People can’t be bothered to go one measly block to cross legally? Although I suppose I’m no better…darting into traffic for a quarter.

So, my day concluded with a total of 40 cents, most of which was found as I risked life and limb in the pursuit of stray coins. But hey…40 cents is a damn good showing for a single day! And although my mother did teach me not to play in traffic, I somehow think she would have approved of my forays into the street today (especially since she’s got 43 cents of her own on the spreadsheet!).

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For some reason…the nickel and seven pennies I’d already found today weren’t enough. I HAD to dig out that penny in the crosswalk at 14th & U Street NW…I had to.

I didn’t initially think I was going to do it (there were only a few seconds left on cross-walk-o-meter before the light changed). I walked past the penny thinking, “Someday I’ll be back for you!” But for some reason…today was the day!

I waited for the light to turn green again…and then I had free run of the cross-walk for 44 seconds (thank God for the little blinking green man w/ the timer!). So I fished my keys out the side pocket of my purse and commenced trying to loosen Lincoln from the asphalt. This sucker was in deep! A few people walked by and looked at me funny (I saw these looks because I’m a multi-takser…I can dig for penny AND watch to see if I am about to get hauled away in a straight jacket for attempting to free a single penny as if it were a bloody fortune). One guy asked me what the hell I was doing to which I just replied, “It’s a long story.”

This thing wasn’t budging. I looked up at the timer…26 seconds left. Plenty of time…no need to panic. But I was going to have to use a little more muscle (or a bigger key…I’d chosen the mail key, which although tiny in size, has a pretty impressive point on the end). So I took another stab at it (literally). I dug in as hard as I could an then all of a sudden…BLOOP…out it came. 21 seconds left to spare.

I looked both ways (I’m not sure why since I’d essentially been playing in traffic for the last 23 seconds without any concern for my safety) and made a dash to the sidewalk. It was my 13th cent for the day…hmmm.

A few minutes later I was home placing this tar covered penny in the “special stack” with his chewed up, oxidized, dirt covered penny-brothers. Some day I think I’ll frame the worst of the worst (some of which are barely identifiable as pennies). If that won’t be a conversation-starter…I don’t know what will be!

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