Images of Canadian penny from Toronto Real Estate News
Yesterday I leaned down to pick up a penny from the rainy street. I could see that it was not a Canadian one -- just a shade smaller. It felt so slight in my hand -- very thin and light.
As I pored over the tiny printing to determine where the coin was from, a woman materialized beside me. She was wearing a CBC zippered hoodie, and over it, a jacket with a CBC logo.
"What is it?" She held our her hand and I passed over the coin.
"Some sort of penny, but I can't read the word -- too small." After a moment, she looked up.
"This penny is from Singapore. 1994."
She returned the tiny coin and I slipped it in my pocket. "Do you work for the Mother Corp?"
She nodded, and I seized the moment to ask her advice on pitching an idea I've had in mind for a while. But she shook her head. "Not a programmer, just a tech. All the programmers are in Toronto."
We looked at each other, shrugged the westerner's shrug. "You can go to the website, pitch it online." She disappeared into the CBC building. Penny in my pocket, I headed for the library.
As of last month, the Canadian penny is no longer in circulation. When I was a kid, a penny used to buy lots of penny candy. One cent bought three "strawberries and bananas," or a handful of licorice pipes and shoelaces. Now it's no longer legal tender.
Yet even though it isn't economically sound to continue manufacturing these near-worthless coins, the penny lives on in the language. At least for older generations, things can still cost a pretty penny, and harking back to our ancestral ties to Britain, we can be penny wise and pound foolish.
A penny saved is still a penny earned, figuratively speaking, but it will no longer be only the impecunious who don't have two pennies to rub together.
When we finally understand something, we'll still be able to say the penny drops, and no doubt occasionally, someone will turn up like a bad penny.
When I was in Hong Kong in the early eighties, the currency included paper pennies; I have some stashed away. Singapore is known as a very rational place; I wonder if it still has good cents.