Monday, March 19, 2007

A Nickel For Your Thoughts ...

Have you ever heard of the “40 nickels in a jar” routine? Read on for additional information.

My parents decided to give weekly allowances to my sister and me. I can’t remember how much she got but mine was fifty cents. Probably I was in the third grade by the time this arrangement began. In order to qualify for the allowance, certain duties were expected of me. For example, I was supposed to carry the full trash can out to the side of the road and then retrieve the empty can once the pickup was made. Also I was to keep my room, “picked up.” Always thought it was funny to “pick up” a room. My parents never did acknowledge the great humor contained within this original pun.

Anyway, as time went along, a few changes took place. Evidently I was a bit too full of mischief to suit my parents. They decided that rather than to give me fifty cents per week allowance, they would instead give me two dollars per month. This would equal fifty cents per week, right? Not necessarily. Here’s the rest of the “new deal.”

On the first day of each month, my parents put 40 nickels into a jar and set the jar on a high shelf well out of my reach. Anytime I pulled a bratty stunt a nickel was removed from the jar. At the end of the month I would receive as my allowance the nickels that still were in the jar. However, for every nickel that was missing I would get a healthy swat with a choice switch from our hedge growing behind the house. For example, if 5 nickels had been taken from the jar then I would get the remaining 35 nickels and 5 swats with the switch. Dad wasn’t content just to swat my trousers. He would pull my pants legs up and swat on the skin. Let me tell you. That will tone down a bratty kid. I think the best month I ever had was the one when I merited 36 nickels.

Soon I discovered that I could contract out some of my assigned duties. For example, Jackie Garretson who was a member of the Pipkin Street gang, agreed to return our empty trash can to its spot by our back door. I paid Jackie ten cents per week for taking on this assignment. Since Jackie’s allowance was only twenty-five cents per week, he was delighted to add the additional ten cents per week to his gross income. And I was delighted that a system was developed to get me out of having to do some of my tasks.

As you already have surmised, this newly developed system ran onto hard times. Ms. Garretson, Jackie’s mom, found out that I was paying her son to do my duty of carrying our trash can. She visited with my mother and the entire arrangement was annulled. Also, my parents found that I had already paid Jackie twenty cents for two weeks worth of trash canning. Thus, four nickels came out of my jar. That meant four swats. My contract business was ended almost before it began.

Even today (I am 71) I’ll stop and think, “How were my business transactions of the day handled? Did I use integrity and truthfulness with my customers?” In other words, “Did I lose any nickels today?” It seems that no matter how hard I try, a few nickels manage to slip out of the jar now and then.

But also I know this truth by faith that when I reach the end of the road, by the Grace of God, my jar will be full of nickels.

Winston Hamby

The Beaumont Enterprise


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