The Coin
Author:Kent Herrick


I was in a store the other day waiting for two old ladies to check out. They didn't have much on the counter in front of them but they didn't look poverty stricken either. The first lady paid with money, not the stamps that I had seen a much young person use a moment before, the ladies did not look destitute or famished in any way. But they did not look strong either, not really alert. The last lady owed $5.50 and she laid a five dollar bill and a fifty cent piece on the conveyor. She remarked about the .50 cent piece although I was not listening really close. I had a banana and a donut and was in a hurry. I think she said, " I think it's worth more than fifty cents but I don't care." or something like that. She then left with her bags; another lady, an employee took their bags out for them. I laid my items on the counter and then decided I'd look at the piece the lady used so I asked for the half in change from my purchases. The checker had probably never known we had silver money and I was not sure it was real 90% coin silver or the last years when it was forty percent. At least that is the way I remember the coins; I'm not really up on my coins. I took the coin and did not check the date. I felt different than the half that I carry as a good luck piece. It looked different too. In the sun I could not quickly see the rich luster of real silver but I knew down in my heart that lady had given more than she had received.

I walked over to her car or at least the one she was getting into with her companion. The employee was putting her bags in the back and helping her into the front seat.

"Ma'am, I think you gave this coin for fifty cents inside and it's worth more. I'm not too smart on coins but it's worth more than fifty cents." I looked at the coin and saw it was a 1963 the last year before they made '64 Kennedy's and was 90% silver. " Ma'am I have no idea what it's worth but why not just take it back from me as a present. I give it too you."

"No sir, you bought it, it's yours."

"Yes I bought it but it ain't right I should keep it."

"Yes it is, I have no use for it and I spent it because I wanted too", or something of the sort. I still did not know what it was worth but the employee looked at it and handed back to me. " She says it's yours and you're right it's worth more than fifty cents." I had a $1.00 in cash left after my purchases, I offered her the dollar and that made a dollar and half of value she had received. "well Mrs......" the employee said, it's not worth more than 1.50 that I know." The lady took the dollar and thanked me. I offered her the coin again, it did not feel right but she was happy. "thanks for the dollar and you keep the coin."

I'll keep the coin and the lady's memory. That's worth more than a dollar or fifty cents to her and to me. If we could buy memories or should I say if we could sell remembrances, how other people think of us or just how people remember us, and do it for buck and change, well I'd be a poor man with all my money spent.

Kent Herrick