These exclamations punctuate pretty much every run my best running friend, Molly, and I take. As our conversation slides from best dance programs for my 8th-grade son and the retro-style dress she’s sewing to the new brewpub she and her hubby enjoyed last night, our eyes continually scan the road. Is that sparkle of silver half-buried under a leaf a quarter…or a bottle cap? Reddish, round blob: penny or wad of gum? Glint of a dime?
The radar-like visual sweep doesn’t distract from our chitchat: It’s unspoken, yet we’re both 100% aware the other one is doing it, too. Our continual search does, however, often determine what route we run or guide what direction we turn. (So many options: Our side of Portland is a grid!) On New Year’s Day, thanks to my jetlag, I ran several hours before Molly did. I nabbed three dimes and three pennies (woohoo: three is my lucky number!). Before Molly headed out, she texted me.
We are well versed in the pockets of Portland that reliably produce change (I’m not fool: I’m not telling you where!!). Molly coined (ouch!) the phrase, “Mo’ money routes,” as in asking, “Should we run a mo’ money route today?” when we meet up halfway between our houses at the start of a run. There are worse ways to choose a route.
Over the years, our #foundchange quest has gone through phases. At first, I found at least 85% of the money. Once Molly started to hit her money-finding stride, we got competitive, often arguing over who spied the moola first. (Yeah, now that I type that, I see where the issue may have originated… #OwnIt) When it started to border on contentious—my older daughter, Phoebe, asked if it was going to rip apart the close friendship Molly and I have—we laid ground rules. (Whoever calls it, gets it. After you find money, you switch places/sides if the non-finder wants to, on the theory the curb-side runner finds more change.)
And, perhaps most importantly, we changed our attitude. Instead of feeling envy or resentment toward the finder, we express delight and kudos. “Awesome: good eye!” “Nice work!” “Wow, I never would have seen that!” “Woohoo!”
At first, it was a bit of fake-it-until-you-make-it, but now our enthusiasm feels genuine. And we believe that attitude has karmic repercussions. E.g. On Saturday, about 5.5 miles into our run, we had found two pennies each when Molly yelped, “penny!!” I congratulated her, pleased for her. Then, adopting the Molly method of scanning the surrounding area for more coins (often done while singing lines from the musical Hamilton: “Look around; look around!”), I nabbed a dime. We resumed our run, commenting on our shared good fortune.
Some folks totally get the almost-electric surge Molly and I feel when we find money; other people are completely baffled by our quest. Especially when I admit I don’t spend or donate what I find. I squirrel it away, almost literally burying it on the upper shelf of my bedroom closet, up near shoes I rarely wear and an off-season purse or two. I occasionally I contemplate collecting it all and spending it on something significant—a pretty pair of sterling-silver earrings I’d wear frequently or a pendant from a favorite boutique—but I never can find the exact right thing. (Molly, on the other hand, donates her annual tallies to a local charity that helps the homeless.)
It’s definitely not about the worth of the money—it’s about the search and the thrill of discovery.
But, hey, since I suspect you’re wondering, I’ll tell you: Molly found $6.67 (all coins) on 2018 runs. Me? $67.43 ($44 in a wallet I returned to the owner; $11 in paper money; $23.43 in U.S. coins. Plus my first find of 2018: a 10 bani, the equivalent of a Romanian dime.)
Do you search for #foundchange, or think I'm a a bit loony?