To Be Frank, by Frank Edmonds, August 25, 2015

editorial image
Have your say

Have you noticed that some people seem obsessed with small change? Look, I know every little helps and all that, but it’s still no reason to go around like some poor man’s version of the Royal Mint.

And is it any reason to use most of the coins in your frankly enormous collection, together with your frankly dubious counting skills, when there’s a shop full of people waiting to be served behind you?

Oh, and I lied when I said “some people.” Let’s be honest – it’s a female thing, isn’t it?

And before you reach for the nearest rockery to stone me to death for being sexist, let me say it was The Better Half who told me this – and she works in a shop.

Here’s a typical scenario. A lady – we’ll call her Mrs Banana – goes to pay for an item. No, of course Mrs Banana isn’t her real name. You don’t want me to be sued as well as stoned, do you? (don’t answer that) (actually, if you threw coins at me instead of stones, at least it might prove lucrative).

“Thank you, Mrs Banana – that’ll be £10.59, please,” says The Better Half – who we’ll call TBH, if only to save the energy I’ll need to deflect all those flying coins.

Mrs Banana hands over a £20 note ... but stops. “Oh wait, I think I can do it, if you don’t mind some small change – then I can hang on to my £20 note. Once you break into it, that’s it, you know.”

That’s it? What, you never see one again, or something?

But TBH smiles, and says: “No, that’s fine,” while Mrs Banana proffers a £10 note instead ... and then rootles around endlessly in a bulging handbag, finally locating an equally bulging coin purse. Meanwhile, the queue behind her gets longer.

“Ah, here it is! Now let me see ...” says Mrs Banana, slowly and deliberately counting out any and every coin she comes across: “10, 20, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 36, 37, 39, 44, 49 ...

“Oh no, wait, that’s not a 5p!” Holy moley, it’s a foreign interloper! Suddenly confusion reigns! “Hang on a minute ... now where was I?”

“I think you got to 44p, and then put that dime back in your purse,” says TBH. “Why don’t you tip the change out onto the counter so you can see what’s there?” she adds helpfully, as the queue gets longer still.

“That’s a good idea,” says Mrs Banana. “Oops! It’s all rolling across the counter! Quick! Catch it!”

Cue more customers joining the, er, queue. Some are now banging their heads against the walls and floors.

“Five, 10, 20,” says Mrs Banana, who’s started all over again, “30, 32, 34, 36, 40, 50, 55, 56, 57, 58 ... 59!” she finally says, triumphantly.

Someone at the back can’t help themselves, and screams: “Hallelujah!”

“Actually I think you’ve given me too much,” says TBH, returning a 10p piece.

But just as the next customer approaches the counter at last, success is cruelly snatched away.

“Oh! I just remembered! I also need some cotton wool!” says Mrs Banana.

“That’ll be £1.25 please,” says TBH.

“Oh dear,” says Mrs Banana, “I’m going to have to give you the £20 note after all, aren’t I?”