Lessons Learned from Chuck

A while ago I wrote about being frugal in order to travel as much as I do. I’m the type of person that will go out of my way to pick up a penny on the ground; something most of my friends and family friendly mock me about, but it will never stop me. A year ago, I took a walk around my neighborhood in between travel adventures; I had found three pennies in just one day while walking. I continued to do the same route every day, and sure enough every day there would be another penny. I suspiciously started wondering if the people who lived in that house purposefully would drop them to see how many times I would pick them up.

Something else happened on these walks; I met a man named Chuck. Every day he would wave to me as I passed by, and on a muggy August evening, I decided to stop and talk to him. While he puffed on his pipe, he introduced himself and his dog, Charles. Chuck and I talked briefly about the weather and the resurfacing they did to our road. The next day I stopped again, and this continued for months; we would talk about weather and make small talk, but gradually we became more serious in our talks. I talked about my career aspirations, my ambition to travel, and how frugal I was.

Chuck is a Veteran, a great grandfather, a world traveler, and a former CEO. I couldn’t believe it, here I had been talking to this man for months, and had never known any real details about him. He said he commended me for being frugal, and I told him how I always picked up pennies every night I walked. He replied with this:

“Never let those who mock you stop you from picking up those pennies. I have tried to instill that in my grandchildren, but they wouldn’t stop for a quarter. I remember growing up a penny was the difference between me eating dinner or going to bed hungry. A penny isn’t just a penny; a penny is worth so much more, it kept me fed, it kept me alive. You never know when you will be starving and all you need is just one more penny to eat…you’ll be wishing you picked up that penny.”

While these walks were good for my health and helped me make a few dollars. It was the lessons learned from Chuck that benefited me the most.

Over the past year I have picked up the equivalent of 13 dollars in various coins on the ground, now each time I look at a penny on the ground I think of Chuck. 13 dollars may not sound like much, but that will buy 6 gallons of fuel, to which you can travel over 100 miles to someplace new!


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