Keep Your Pennies, Canada

I’m so excited!!

Not because I’m going to Boise tomorrow to meet up with my girlfriend. Well, that too. But also…look what I found!

I’m unable to embed the video, but if you click on the link you can listen/watch on YouTube. A British pop group called Frazier Chorus had a hit song back in 1990 that was an ode to my favorite overlooked cloud. And if you never get the time, and never get to see cloud nine, there’s a place where you can wait on cloud eight. I feel better knowing that poor ol’ cloud eight did get a little love some twenty years ago. Thank you, obscure English pop band. I can now float on cloud nine free of guilt.

In other news, I won the lottery the other day!

OK, truth be told, I didn’t actually win the lottery. Or even play it. But a guy can pretend, right? On Tuesday, I sauntered over to the big, green CoinStar machine in Fred Meyer, where I deposited all the loose change I had gathered the past few months. If you’re unfamiliar with CoinStar, it’s a kiosk about the size of a vending machine, where you can convert spare change into either currency (less a small fee) or a gift card. I never carry change around in my pocket; I drop it into a piggy bank on my dresser instead, and when the ceramic pig gets full, I pay a visit to the CoinStar machine. The experience is sort of like being in a casino, anyway; you’ve got the sound of coins dropping and the palpable excitement and anticipation of seeing exactly what your payoff is going to be. It always feels like free money to me. I suppose I could meticulously count, sort, and wrap up all my coins and take them to the bank to cash in so as to avoid the 9.8% CoinStar fee, but where’s the excitement in that? Plus then, I have to deal with tellers. I’m a pretty likable guy who gets along with almost everybody, but for some reason bank tellers hate me. Seriously. It’s probably because I always screw up the deposit slips, or don’t have my account number handy. In any case, I prefer the anonymity of a big, green machine (in much the same way that I really dig the U-Scan self-serve checkout machines in the grocery store, even though cashiers, unlike tellers, like me just fine).

Here I am, hoping to hit the jackpot!

So anyway, I ended up with $38, minus a Canadian penny the machine did not like. Don’t you hate it when Canucks try to sneak their currency into our system? Nothing chaps my hide more than seeing maple leaves on a coin. Does it look like we have moose wandering through the streets? Viva la America, baby!

Interestingly, my link says the average CoinStar transaction is $38. Yay me for not being a statistical anomaly (though I kinda wish I was the guy in Alabama who cashed in $13,000 worth of pennies (minus the worthless Canadian ones, of course)).

It was a good trip to the grocery store because, not only did I end up with one of those baby carts I so adore, but I also had about $15 worth of coupons. My total bill was $18, which means I came home with food and, also, $20 ahead. Score!

The icing on the cake this week (it’s been a pretty good one!) was the passage of ballot measure I-1183 in Washington. This repeals the Prohibition-era state-run liquor store monopoly. It’s about time, Evergreen State! When I lived in California, I was used to being able to buy vodka and rum in the grocery store. Up here, you can only buy hard booze in a state-controlled liquor store. This translates to fewer options, higher prices, and the inability to get drunk on Sundays. That’s just not convenient, folks! But the voters spoke, and we’re abolishing the system. Come June, any grocery store larger than 10,000-square feet will be able to sell liquor. How great will that be? I can cash in my change with CoinStar and then go pick up a bottle of tequila!

It’ll really feel like a casino then.

I was somewhat dismayed when one of my very Republican friends named Eric “liked” the YES ON I-1183 page on Facebook, as I had. We couldn’t be further apart in our political philosophies. I never thought we’d agree on anything! The truth is, I voted against my party on this issue. Most Democrats, including our governor, were staunchly opposed. But I’m about as liberal as they come, and pretty sure this brief glimmer of conservatism is an anomaly. My “yes” vote simply means I’m against regulation and monopolistic practices.

Or a lush.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

16 thoughts on “Keep Your Pennies, Canada

  1. Again, we talked about this before I could comment, but I’m still cracking up over our parrallels. We’re gonna be, like, total twinners soon!

    And yay for better access to cheaper booze! That’s the only reason I moved to Nevada, ya know.


  2. In the late 60’s when in college my parents could give me only $8 a week for spending money. (I even had to grow my own paper and pens). Florida Southern which is in Lakeland in Polk County was dry on Sunday. I’d take my $8 and buy 8 six-packs and sell at $3 each on Sunday. Another way to make money was to go see the happy man at the park with the brightly colored clothing and a guitar and he gave you these little orange things that you sold for him at $2.50 and split the dough. Hey, hadda survive and $8 did not cut it.


  3. Yay for coin-star. Last time I did it, I had a little over $68.00…all for itunes. Totally worth it!

    When I was a server in Idaho Falls, we used to get tour buses from Canada. The majority would leave those stinking $2.00 loon coins as a tip, which were totally worthless to us…even the banks wouldn’t take them unless you had a whole roll. I finally had enough of the crap and spoke loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear..”You might as well pick up those worthless loon coins and put them back in your pocket. All we do is throw them in the garbage since they are worth nothing to us!” Slowly but surely, you could see American dollar bills show up on the tables.

    All the other servers couldn’t believe I said anything but I was tired of working my butt off for absolutely nothing.

    Rant over…sorry!!

    Have fun this weekend Mark…:)


  4. GREAT video, Mark!

    And what’s really funny, is that I actually remember hearing this song back in the 90’s, but forgot about it!

    “I never carry change around in my pocket; I drop it into a piggy bank on my dresser instead, and when the ceramic pig gets full, I pay a visit to the CoinStar machine.”

    Meeeee too! However, I don’t use the CoinStar machine, but rather ‘Penny Arcade’ at one the banks here in Philly. And I love using it because I no longer have to hand wrap my coins. They do charge a fee (6%) to use the service, but it’s so worth it.

    Wow!….$38?!? I think the most I ever got was like $20.

    “When I lived in California, I was used to being able to buy vodka and rum in the grocery store. Up here, you can only buy hard booze in a state-controlled liquor store.”

    Yup, it was the same in Florida (except Sundays). Well, you couldn’t actually buy hard booze in a grocery store, only beer and wine. However, here in Pennsylvania you can only get alcohol in a state store. And the tax is astronomical!

    I don’t think PA will ever change that law though.

    Have a wonderful weekend with Tara and your childern, buddy!

    Can’t wait to read all about it.


    1. Funny you should mention the Pennsylvania liquor laws…

      There was an article in our paper today about how Oregon, Idaho and – yep – Pennsylvania are all inspired by Washington’s vote to try to overturn their own state-run liquor store monopolies. Maybe it’ll be like dominoes falling.

      Have a fabulous weekend, my friend!


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