I’ve had a glitch in my accounts for awhile that I was finally able to fix, and once again I am balanced to the penny. Mr. Smith can tell you that there are two areas that can instantly turn my cranky – when my accounts are messed up and when my gadgets don’t work.
In the afterglow of account nirvana, I started thinking about how we often regard a penny as insignificant and yet how much joy hinges upon it. After bills are paid and groceries bought, if I am one penny short in my accounts I won’t be able to sleep knowing that the one cent shortfall could start an avalanche of overdraft. On the other hand, one penny surplus makes for sweet dreams. That’s why I always pick up a penny when I see it. Heads or tails, an extra penny is lucky.
I’m not the only one who thinks this. Mr. Wilkins Micawber, from Charles Dickens’s 1850 novel, David Copperfield, said it back then:
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
Interesting side note, the best fiction is usually thinly veiled reality painted up in gloss, and Dickens had a reality for his Micawber character to tap. His own father was the inspiration, and was actually incarcerated in the King’s Bench Prison, a debtor’s prison, after failing to pay his debts.