A Ten-Cent Story

My son found some coins in the car and asked me what they were for. I explained the different denominations and when his interest faded I checked the dates. The quarter was 2020, a newborn. The nickel was 2018. But the dime was 1975.

What has that dime seen in its 45 years? How many hands has it passed through? How many of its users were poor? How many rich?

How far has it traveled? In 12 hours it could be around the world without anyone really trying. How many times has it gone around by now?

Was it the object of a child’s game at some point and the pocket change of a drug lord at another?

Has anything important been decided from its flip? Probably not much. Dimes aren’t great for flipping, so if it was used there must have been nothing else available.

Has a widow given this in worship? Has a cruel man hoarded it in greed?

Has in been in the pocket of a president? What if Reagan had it in his suit pants during a debate in the 80s? And what if he took it out afterwards when the night got quiet and rolled it through his fingers, looking at the image of Roosevelt and pondering his own place in history while Nancy took off her makeup in the vanity?

Maybe it was minted, circulated for one day, dropped by its first user into a street drain in 1975, and lodged somewhere safe until it was knocked loose just 6 months ago. Maybe I’m only the second person to ever possess it.

We’ll never know.

How can an object so small be so loaded with mystery?

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