Thursday, August 11, 2011

God is good

The years go by.  One goes on a daily basis to the supermarket.  One comes home with a one cent coin, a two cent coin; one rarely remembers to put these coins back into play on trips to the supermarket.  The coins accumulate in the home.

One, well, I try from time to time to spend them.  I collect, as it might be, one euro in 2-cent pieces, go to the newsagent, and am told off.  He won't take them; his bank will charge for depositing them; I must take them to the bank myself.

I go to a bank and am told they will not accept these coins unless I am a customer of the bank.  Do I have an account with another bank?  Yes, the Postbank.  Well, I must go to the Postbank.

Weeks go by.  I have 6 euros in small change: 3.70 in 2-cent pieces, 2.15 in 1-cent pieces, 15 cents to make up an even 6 in 5-cent pieces.

I go to the nearest Deutsche Post and ask if they can give me the paper rolls.  The woman at the counter says gaily (in German, but I give you the gist):

Oh, you don't need to do that, we have a machine! You can just bring it all in and fill out this paying-in form!


I'm not sure whether I can put everything in one container, or whether the coins need to be separated by denomination; to be on the safe side I separate the ones and twos.  I label the bags. I fill out the form. I return to this helpful branch of the Deutsche Post.

Where a different woman explains that the machine is kaputt.  And HAS been kaputt for four weeks. I need to roll up the coins. 

OK, I say, can you give me the Rollen?  (Not sure if this is the technical term.) 

She brings out a sheaf of papers, or rather two sheaves (is this really English usage?), one for 1 cent coins, one for 2.  These are not rolls into which coins can be dropped, these are small romboidal sheets of paper into which the coins must be rolled. 

I try to roll a couple. I am not adept.

I have a brilliant idea!

I can take the coins to a different branch, one where the machine is not kaputt!

I go to the branch where I have my PO box and am told they don't have the machine, the coins need to be rolled.

I go to the big branch in Haupstraße and am told THEY don't have the machine, the coins need to be rolled.

I am tired.  I am very very very very tired.

It IS petty.  Ezra Klein is not bogged down in these petty details.  The US just narrowly raised the debt ceiling; S&P has downgraded its rating, generating much of interest on the difference between S&P and Moody's.  The troubled Eurozone (Greece! But it's not so much Greece, what if Portugal, Italy, Spain?????) has markets in turmoil. (Or possibly not turmoil, maybe they're just worryingly going down, but meanwhile we at paperpools have 6 euros in small change which nobody wants.)

I go to Restaurant Toronto, just up the street, in my old neighborhood, Crellekiez.

Not without qualms.  Last time I came to the Toronto the waitress said the Stalker kept coming by and asking for me.  But I like the Toronto, so sod it.

(Does Ezra Klein have a stalker? Punk rock musician from Moscow? I'm guessing not.)


I'm sitting at an outside table at the Toronto.  My laptop is out, I'm online, I have a glass of Riesling.

A guy comes by selling a street magazine, and he also says, as they do, Kleine Spende?

Meaning, even if you don't want to buy the paper, maybe you could spare some small change.

I first dig out a coin, 50 cents.  Then I have an idea.

I say, Er, Moment.  Moment.  Ich weiß nicht (I don't know), ich bin nicht begabt (I don't have the knack), vielleicht sind Sie begabt (maybe you have the knack).

I root around in my three bags (handbag, laptop bag, gym bag) and haul out these bags of 1- and 2-cent coins, WITH the rolling papers provided by Deutsche Post.  I explain haltingly that I have tried many times to hand them in, without success; perhaps HE will know what to do, but if not I perfectly understand.

There is a moment of confusion; he is not sure what is on offer, whether he is being asked to roll up the coins for me.  A man at the adjacent table explains, no, he is not being asked to give them back, if he wants he can take them away.

We then exchange thanks many times.  He is happy to take away these bags of coins, I am happy that 215 1-cent coins and 185 2-cent coins are now HIS.  (Yes. He did not get the full Monty. The 3 5-cent coins are at the bottom of one of the bags.)

There is some sort of moral, if you want a moral.  Most of the things I need done for me as a writer are little 1-cent 2-cent jobs. If I have to do them all myself there is never a clear block of time for writing.
But I can't pay someone 6 euros to do 215 1-cent jobs, 185 2-cent jobs, and 3 5-cent jobs. Not only can I not pay 6 euros for this service, there is NO amount of money I can pay to get 403 microjobs taken care of.

Which is too bad, but somebody asked for small change and got 6.35 (5.85 in 1- and 2-cent coints, 50 cents before I had the brilliant idea of ridding myself of the copper).


considerphlebas said...

I'm not sure what kind of jobs you have that need doing, but there are internet services ( , not a recommendation, just a top hit in a quick search) where you can cheaply commission internet people to do very small tasks like making calls or setting appointments or whatnot.

Anonymous said...

I moved into an apartment in Japan where the previous occupant had left a small dish full of 1-yen coins. There was about 400 yen in the dish.

Everyday I put nine of these coins in my pocket, and if my lunch that day cost (say) 317 yen, I would dutifully hand over 507 yen, or 1007 yen.

It took three months to empty the dish, but it was the most satisfying 400 yen I ever (eventually) spent.