Monday, March 28, 2011

Counting Pennies

I don’t know which is worse: waiting for the person ahead of you in the checkout line to find the three pennies they need to complete their transaction, or being the one digging down to the bottom of your purse for those three pennies as the line grows more restless behind you. You keep digging because you just know they are there, the bag weighs, like, ten pounds and the cashier won’t let you go without the three cents.

That hasn’t happened to me in Italy. Today at the supermarket my total was 15,05 Euro and the cashier politely told me my total was 15,00 Euro. Even though they mint a penny AND a 2 cent piece , they seem to dislike using them (they also have a 20 cent coin. They are prepared for any change emergency.) They aren’t too fond of 5 cent coins either, but they will round down to the nearest 5 cents. Restaurants tend to price things so that your bill will come out to an even Euro amount, or at least the price you see has already been adjusted so that they don’t need to deal with coins smaller than 1 Euro. There is a place we used to lunch at frequently and she would make us keep the cents no matter how many there were, because what’s change between friends?

I try to imagine my American accountant friend dealing with this kind of attitude…I don’t know that he can envision a world where pennies don’t matter. Where “close” is good enough and books don’t exactly balance. I think for him it would seem that chaos is eminent. I would like to meet an Italian accountant (there must be one) and find out how they deal with this…

No one here seems to concerned about it. Life is too short to worry about pennies so keep them, please. I wonder how this idea would go over in the States?

There you have my two cents for the day, but this is Italy, so I guess it’s really free.

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