I absolutely LOVE people who pay with pennies!
Seriously. 4 years ago, I’m cashiering at a whacky mart on a register that holds all the smokes and alcohol. It’s 10pm and these two young men (early 20s) come up to the counter. They have three random novelty items (I don’t remember they were), but it was strange and unusual to get odd items this late at night. Maybe it was for some fraternity, I don’t know. It’s a college town so I get weird stuff from frats a lot. I scan the items and tell them their total is $22.xx.
Grinning at each other, they reach into their jackets and slam down two gallon zip-lock bags, full of only pennies. I stare them in the eye, but they didn’t even look back at me. Everyone else in line groan and went to other registers. These two kids knew what they were doing, but they didn’t know what they were in for because I prepared for this; I knew this was going to inevitably happen. I grinned with them, because I was gonna get paid during this. These pranksters are here for recreation. This convo occurs between Me, Ringleader (the other guy was silent and awkward), and a friendly coworker of mine.
Me: Is this $22.xx?
Me: Did you count it?
Me: Are you going to?
Me: Is it at least $22.xx?
Ringleader: Don’t know.
Coworker: Hey! You guys can use the self checkout. It can take all of your coins at once.
Me: Oh, don’t worry about it Cowor–
Ringleader: Nope, don’t trust them lady. (Partner laughs)
Coworker: What? Why!?
Ringleader: Doesn’t count all your change right.
Coworker: I’ve used them before. It really works!
Me: (to Coworker) I got this.
I unpacked the ziplocks and threw all the pennies on the counter. It was a beautiful, massive shitstorm of a mess. And I digged in it. I was Frank in a dumpster in ‘It’s Always Sunny’. The two, still averting my gaze, start chuckling as if they were taking away my dignity. They whisper to each other “Dude oh my God,” “Dude yeah,” “Dude, hilarious.” I counted each penny, one by one. My coworker comes up to me.
Coworker: Guess I’ll help you count this.
Me: Don’t worry about it.
(She looks at me confused. Then she puts on her 'get down to busy’ look.)
Coworker: I got your back.
We worked up a system where we counted ten, put them in a pile, then with ten stacks of ten pennies we separated them, making $1 piles. We made progress slowly but surely. Some customers came to the line, but we advised them to get to another line. Some of them looked at us confused, but when they saw the counter full of pennies they understood. Some decided to wait, but when they realized it wasn’t going to take just a few minutes they took their leave. Another register in the liquor department opened so it wasn’t too bad for other customers. We get to about $12 (about 10min in) until I “knocked” over the piles.
Me: Oops. Sorry.
(Coworker looks at my grin. I give her a wink and tilt my head, motioning her to leave)
Coworker: You know what, I think I better let you do this.
Me: Ha, alright.
(Coworker leaves. I look at the two guys. They are absolutely stunned at the fallen piles of pennies.)
Me: (To Ringleader) Yeah, I’m going to have to count all of this again.
I started from zero. I count slower then ever, and made my way back up. The duo is entirely silent. I get to about $7, when suddenly I say:
Me: Drats. I lost count. I better start all over again.
Me: Oh yeah man.
Me: I lost count, sir. I could be in trouble if my register doesn’t have the right amount of cash, and I don’t want to rip you off.
It’s about an hour later. My manager walks past, looks at me. I smile at him, and he looks at the counter. He walks away without a word. I eventually count all the change and surprisingly they had only $18!
Me: Hmm, I think that this is $18.
(The duo has been dead silent. They look done for the night.)
Me: I’ll recount it.
I fucking recounted it.
Me: I think this is actually $19.xx.
(Without a word, the Ringleader whips out a $5)
Me: Seriously? You had cash?
Ringleader: Needed to get rid of my change.
Me. No problem. I’ll just recount this again. I want to make perfectly sure that this is $19, since I counted $18 the first time.
Ringleader: Are you kidding me?
(I shake my head no, completely serious)
He takes out a $20 bill straight out of his pocket and throws it at me. My coworker gives the biggest WHAT THE FUCK face. Internally, I die as well, because they were smart enough to have a backup plan. And the fact that he was touching his cash in his pocket the entire time kinda messed with me. I take the cash, do the transaction, give him his change, thanked him and wished him a good night. The two start to put their pennies back in the ziplock bags and I didn’t help them at all. I watched them just as how they watched me. Lots of pennies dropped to the floor, but they didn’t care to pick them up. It looked like their souls were sucked out of them. It was past midnight and I clocked out way past when I was supposed to. A lot of my coworkers gave me a thumbs up or told me good night. Even my manager told me 'good job,’ the only two words he ever said to me. Went to bed at the dorms after such a great petty penny night and crashed. Strange to say, but I’d love to count pennies again.
TL;DR I recounted 1900 pennies like 5 times. Was it 5 times? I better count again.