Extra Penny
Off the Wall, Feb 20
, 2014

Recently I wanted to buy an extra copy of The Latrobe Bulletin that featured the story of Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited youth and their adventures from learning to tie flies to actually fishing with them. The president of the organization had not seen the issue and I wanted to share the front page write-up with him.

When I entered the business office, I stated what I wanted and was told how much one cost. Preparing myself for my investment, I reached deep into my pocket and dropped what I thought was $.50 onto the counter. Knowing that is how much it would cost, I deposited that amount into my pocket – at least I thought I did. When I got to the office, I took what change I had and placed it on the counter. One of the girls methodically totaled the cash. When she got down to the last cent, she stated, “You are short a penny.” I must have dug into my pocket three times to see if that copper-colored currency was hiding between the threads or among my keys. “I know I counted out $.50 when I separated the coins at home.

Here was my original thought that I ignored (or most likely, it was the Holy Spirit giving me a heads-up). “Include an extra penny in case you come up short.” I thought my way was better.

The gracious young lady was so kind as to drop an extra penny from the ashtray into the pile, so I could buy the paper. I was very appreciative.

Then, while walking down the street the other day, a little light bulb shined above my head (the Holy Spirit talking to me, again) and I had to smile. How many ways can we apply the “EPA” (extra penny acts) to our lives.

The cheerful employee may have given me one cent, but it was that effort that paid off – that something we all can apply to our lives which definitely will have an effect on others. To her, it was giving me something. To me it was receiving a gift so many take for granted, that something people just toss on the ground. I was in need of a heart-felt soul, and she was there to give it in the form of a penny.

Who is to say now that it always has to be done monetarily? This is the time of the year that senior citizens feel stranded in their homes. They don’t go out in fearing they may slip on the ice and break a hip, leg or some other part of their body. Is it so hard as to pick up the phone and inquire as to whether groceries are needed or maybe needs from the drug store? If the younger generation can turn knobs on the radios, then they can pick up the receivers and do some calling to neighbors they know. Maybe boyfriends or girlfriends know someone who is a shut in. What a wonderful community gesture this would be.

Maybe while walking through the mall, grocery store or pharmacy, someone drops something and the actor is unaware that he committed the action. How hard would it be to perform an “EPA?” “Excuse me sir. I believe this is your glove that fell from your pocket…” and then hand it to him with a smile from the heart.

Seniors have a way of leaving things behind and getting caught up in various moments. Recently, I was in a doctor’s office and saw a black cane leaning against a chair. Its owner must have been called into the office and forgot his cane. Then, while in the dentist’s waiting room, my name was called. When the dental assistant alerted me to the fact that I had forgotten my cane, I had to tell her it was not mine. Then I got this crazy notion. “Do I have a cane following? I’ve always had stick-to-it-tive-ness.”

But keep in mind, “EPA’s” can be extended to anyone, not just the elderly. Maybe someone could walk a dog for one who might have the flu or bad cold, telephone an old friend for twenty minutes who he hasn’t spoken to for a while, or offer to provide a service, such as driving one to the mall.

One’s actions may be the “penny in the pocket” others value. That EPA I received served as a reminder what God’s love was all about.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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