Favorite 4-letter Words, part 1: Coin


Most days include the throwing of pocket-coins into a bowl. Work days include sliding register coins onto the whirly-platform of the machine that accepts cashier money. Since we had one at work, and this is the 21st Century, I naively thought I could take my bowl-coins to the bank and have the teller dump them into a similar machine. But Daniel the teller told me they didn’t have such a beast at the bank, no way, nohow! He gave me some coin rollers instead, though he was sympathetic about my arthritic hands.

Many grocery stores have a device labeled Coinstar. Unfortunately, they charge about 9% for the convenience of vouchering your coins. More unfortunately, before I went to the bank, I walked a mile to Fry’s and the nearest Coinstar I knew of, my right front pocket bulging with a sandwich bag full of metal disks, only to be told by the machine’s display that it was full and I should come back later.

It took me about 45 minutes to roll the coins. My hands actually felt better after doing the job–free Physical Therapy, folks! But some rolls were incompletely filled. I made labels of their dollar amounts, and more labels of name/address/account number info. (Scan a check deposit slip, open it in MS Paint, slice and dice so the acct# is just below the name/address, copy the resulting info rectangle, and paste it in rows and columns till you have a pageful. Print and get out your paper-cutter and tape. Quicker and easier than you’d think!)

Back to the bank, and Daniel. He marveled at my name/address/acct labels but then said they were unnecessary. (Grrr.) Then he got out a coin rack and said the bank would have no problem with any coin amount under $100.00. (Double grrr, and a See Ya Never for the Coinstar bloodsuckers.) I had given him exactly $25.00 of coin. “How do you want it?”

“Got any $2 bills?”

They had $18 worth of 2s, so I took $10 in 2s, a ten and a five. This made me feel lucky, somehow.


Sequential $2 bills made me feel luckier still, so I went home, waited till 2 PM, and took off on foot for Piestewa Peak, which is about 5 kilometers away as the crow flies, but more like 4-1/2 miles for the pedestrian.

It felt good to walk, but I could feel the fuel indicator slowly sweeping from F to E, and it was slightly uphill from Camelback Road northward. Then it kicked up a notch, and when I saw this Dead End sign, I felt like it was an omen.


But I was SO CLOSE, and so I made a deal with my legs: Fellas, get us just a little ways up, say to that memorial bench by the first big right turn, and down again and to the bus stop on Lincoln Drive, and I’ll baby you the rest of the day, and treat you to muscle relaxants to boot.

My legs grudgingly agreed, and trudgingly complied, and finally we were there:


To make a long story just slightly longer, I kept my end of the bargain with a Stella Artois, that smoothest of muscle relaxants, quaffed at the George & Dragon, and later washed down a maximum recommended dosage of Ibuprofen PM with some cool, clear water.

Why is Coin one of my favorite four-letter words? I love the way it sounds. I love that it is both a noun and a verb. I love that you can coin not just money but phrases. And I love that the Old French word it came from originally meant “wedge.”

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