Wednesday, January 31, 2007


This is a photograph of my penny box. What is a penny box you ask?
I will tell you.

8:30 am and 77 degrees.
My name is Patricia Wood and I collect pennies for luck.
It started innocently enough like all compulsions. I would be walking to my car in a parking lot -- find a penny at my feet, pick it up, put it in my pocket and say, "A penny for luck."
This habit became magnified when I finished my first novel, started my second and began the querying process.
I was not just happy circumstance to hit every green light. I decided I had to make my own luck.

I became a Penny Lurker.
I not only look for pennies that have been dropped, mislaid, rolled under a chair or at over the edge of a step -- I create my own opportunities. I hunt for pennies. I look for potential. A harried mother dropping coins into a gum ball machine with two howling children at her hip. Look! There! One penny escapes. I wait. When she leaves I scoop it up.
An elderly woman counting out change in the line ahead of me. She puts the rest in her coin purse. A stray penny drops to the floor. No one hears it.
I do.
I hear it.
When she goes out the door I pounce!
Even my friends are not safe.
"Let's clean out our purses, today." I suggest innocently, knowing a few copper coins will fall and roll into the voluminous throw on my settee.
My husband is horrified. "You have to stop this!"he says."It's stealing!"
"No it's not," I protest. "There are rules."
Certain, specific rules I must follow.
The penny leavers have to turn their back and walk away.
When they get at least 10 feet away the penny is mine!
These pennies cannot be spent. They must be saved forever. Hence the penny box.
My husband is not entirely convinced of the efficacy and ethics of my Penny Lurking.
It works for me.
So how about you?
What strange and odd things do you do for luck?


Maprilynne said...

*Snort* You steal pennies.:)

Now if they were dollars, I might have a problem with that.

But hey, they're pennies.:)

I think that's really funny though.

I'm not a huge believer in luck . . . at least not the lucky charms kind of luck. I'm really not supersticious at all. Sometime I wish I was--it would give me something else to focus on.:)

I'm more of a ritualist: things will work better if I stick to my routine/ritual. I guess that's kind of supersticious, but it kind of makes sense. You know, if I put my son down for his nap at exactly twelve, he'll sleep longer. If I wait to check my mail until noon, I'm more likely to have something from my agent. You know, weird stuff.;)


Holly Kennedy said...

Pat, you have a penchant for pennies and you LURK, which makes you eccentric, and that makes for a good writer.

Remind me not to empty my wallet around you, though. Canadian pennies are even luckier than US pennies. They're less....used and therefore more virgin-like with their lucky attributes. I have a bunch of 'em. Are your fingers trembling yet?! Ha!

(Wow, can you tell I wrote late last night or what??!)

ORION said...

I like those, too.
Maybe I should grow my hair long, dye it purple and wear robes and caftans.
It could happen.

Katie said...

This is TOO funny! You should make your own wishing well. Just think what your take would be! Except you'd have to have a sign: "Pennies ONLY!"

adrienne said...

Stealing pennies? Oh man, I have a friend who has a serious phobia of loose change, you two will never meet!

I guess what I do for luck is more similar to maprilynne. A routine, some superstitions.

Though I like collecting DVD's. But I think that just means I am a movie buff.

Kimber An said...

Your husband may resent me encouraging your obsession. If you want to be in Penny-Picking-Up-Heaven, you need to visit Alaska during Spring Break-up. That's when all the ice and snow begins to melt and break up. That's when we find all the things we lost during the winter. Cars, trucks, bicycles, Uncle Dead-Ed (if you like someone, don't let them walk alone in the winter), and pennies. And nickels. And dimes. Five dollar bills. Time it just right and you could fund your retirement on the parking lots of Anchorage. Just let the police know where to pick up Uncle Dead-Ed.

Anonymous said...

Still laughing at Kimber An's post -
I don't have any lucky rituals or collections. I always moved too much to collect anything. I do have what I consider my lucky coffee mug. If I have coffee in it I feel like the day will be a good one. (This is not scientifically proven...)

Kiskadee said...

I believe absolutely in not counting my chickens. Living in the present. Doing what has to be done NOW, and not imagining what the (good!) results could be. It's not always easy.
I also believe in putting things right with my world. If I am having a streak of bad luck I believe it is because I am doing something wrong in my life. I try to put it right. You know, the karma thing.

I love your penny trick, Pat. I tend to be far too casual about small change, and I shouldn't be. I remember when I got married the first time my dad told me: "Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves." I'm afraid I didn't heed him.
Then we went through a period of severe financial deprivation. There was literally NO MONEY avaialable. I and my kids scoured the house looking for stray pennies - at the backs and bottoms of drawers, under carpets, in old purses, in coat pockets, at the bottom of handbags, everywhere. It's amazing how much small change we found!
Since then I've been very, very careful. I keep my small change together.

Bernita said...

Not a ritualist nor particularly superstitious.
I just have habits (bad.)
But your penny pouncing is rather sweet.
Kimber is right, one finds lots of things, including change, when walking the dogs in the spring.

Anissa said...

You're funny, Pat!

I too believe in the luck of pennies. I've always picked them up, but instead of the a little saying, we always spit on them before putting in out pockets. It's a family thing. My mom's Dutch, maybe that's where it came from.

Anyway, I would find pennies on important days. Big basketball game, track meet, etc. Even on the morning of the ACT. They were my good luck charms. One day it finally occured to me that I was finding an awful lot of pennies outside our house. Turned out my dad was planting them. :) Didn't detract from their luck, so I never let on that I knew.

Ah...the pennies. I never understood those who would only pick up the ones that were heads-up. Luck is luck...and a little spit never hurts.

Anissa (wishing I had a cool penny box)

Kara Lennox said...

LOL, my husband and I constantly hunt pennies (and other currency). It gives us something to do on our daily walks.

Every day I post on my blog what treasures we found that day.

I used to keep all the pennies, but then it just got to be too much, so I started spending them. I call it recirculating my abundance back out into the Universe. Or "Catch and release." We find lost, abandoned pennies, rehabilitate them, and return them to the wild.