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100 Pennies

I learned a lesson yesterday.
A valuable lesson.
Well, technically a lesson that would cost about $1.50, but some would say it was worth more than that.

Katie and I decided to sell our luxurious Buick Century in favor of something that we can grow into as a family a little more. Something with fewer miles, higher off the ground, and ready for a beating. We ended up landing a 2005 Ford Freestyle by the grace of God in our price range with only 28,000 miles. The God-timing of it all and the beauty of getting an offer on our car the same week led us to move on the Freestyle. The only hang-up was in selling the Buick.

I met with the buyer a couple days ago only to be reminded (as we were walking into the BMV) that the title needed to be in my name in order for me to sign it over. Doh! I drove home to Katie who was patiently putting two babies down for their afternoon naps and I quickly realized that signing the Buick over would have to wait until another day. So I set things up with the buyer to meet the following day (yesterday) at 11am at his house and we would have him give me a ride home and then he would take the car to the BMV to get plates and such.

Enter yesterday.

The day started off great. Since I was going to be at work all afternoon and evening I decided to take the morning and spend some quality time with the family before selling the car and heading into work. At this point, the title was still in Katie's name though all I needed was for Katie to get the thing notarized and brought back to the house so I could take it to the buyer. I interrupted Katie's blow drying of her hair so I could persuade her to get the title notarized. She left for the BMV at 10:20 which would give me just enough time to still make it over to the buyer's house and make the sale.

Enter the phone call.

Katie called at 10:24 asking if she would need cash or check to pay for the title transaction. I confidently answered that she would not. A bank will notarize a title for free (after all, the only cost to notarizing is a dash of ink on the page and the inconvenience of signing your name to it) and I assumed that the BMV would also notarize for no charge. Katie called at 10:28 saying that she needed $1.50 to complete the transaction. She was currently on her way home and the BMV lady was holding onto the title.
Did the BMV lady really have the audacity to make my wife drive home for a buck and a half?? SERIOUSLY?!?
I stormed upstairs to our change jar and quickly began to devise. I was like God at the day of judgement, separating the copper coins from the silver ones. I counted out four piles of 25 pennies each and (not remembering the rest of the count) grabbed a couple quarters to accompany them. Katie got home just as I was finishing my count. I handed her the double-handful of change and insisted that it was not rude to pay in cash in this manner. Katie would not have it because it was rude to pay in 100 pennies...until I started shouting about how it wasn't rude to pay in US currency, it was rude to make someone drive all the way home to fish out one dollar and fifty cents just to pay for a title that you have already signed!

Katie went on her merry way with 102 coins in a napkin and headed back to the BMV. I furiously washed the morning's dishes and tidied up the house while I watched the morning tick by. At this point I would be lucky to arrive at the buyer's house 30 minutes late. Katie got home at 10:52 and threw the title on the counter along with a receipt for $1.50 (I'm glad we have proof of that transaction in case we ever get audited) and ran upstairs to finish drying her hair.

I knew I was in the wrong for having sent Katie with a dollar in pennies against her will and I wanted to make it right, so I went upstairs to smooth things over. After all, what's done is done; the title is signed, the money is spent, and we used 100 pennies from our change jar in the best way possible.

Enter the crying.

I peeked my head into the bathroom and asked if Katie was mad at me. Through an onslaught of tears she responded that she was furious with me. I had completely humiliated her by making her pay with pennies. Apparently the lady at the BMV had first claimed she couldn't accept change (to which Katie curtly reminded the lady that pennies are a completely acceptable form of US currency). The lady then got her manager to confirm that she could accept pennies that weren't already rolled (because pennies wrapped in paper suddenly become permissible?) and the manager said that as long as the change was correct, they could accept it. The lady (we'll call her Bob) told Katie she had to count the pennies. Halfway through counting, Bob said that Katie needed to stack them in piles of 10. Katie did this and confirmed that I had correctly counted out exact change for $1.50. Bob then took the pennies and counted them herself, ensuring that the change was exact. Bob then printed a receipt, handed Katie the title, and the two parted ways without a "thank you" or a "goodbye". 

Enter the husband.

I was OUTRAGED! No one treated my wife that way and humiliated her in front of others! (except me, of course, being the one who insisted we pay in pennies to begin with). I demanded to know what Bob's name was and I made swift plans to blow off the buyer and make a quick trip over to the BMV with a further handful of pennies to throw in Bob's face. Better yet, I would just rage in, deliver a swift one-two combo, get arrested, and really show her who was boss. No one makes my wife cry about paying in cash! (except me, for being the one to put her in the situation to begin with). 

Oooh, I was mad. 
But I was also late.

So I hopped into the Buick with the signed title and headed out to meet the buyer with 2 minutes to spare and a 30 minute drive ahead of me. During the half hour trip across town I started scheming how to seek my revenge in a way that wouldn't result in assault. I though of the wisdom of Proverbs 25 that "if [my] enemy is hungry give him food to eat, in doing this [I] will heap burning coals on his head." Yes, that was it, I thought. I will deliver my revenge through compliments. I made up my mind to dress up as a singing telegram and deliver flowers to Bob. I started writing the lyrics in my head along with a cheerful tune, "Bob is great, Bob is good, double checks everything like she should; when we pay in cash, she makes us glad, by counting every penny like she should." Yes, the plan was perfect--as soon as I got home I would suit up, buy some flowers, sing the song, and then pay Bob the nicest compliment she had ever heard, dripping with sarcasm like a beehive with honey. If I sang loud enough I could even get all the other patron's attention, I wagered, and I'm sure I would have been correct. That way Bob would be all the more humiliated by the words of affection that would surely be taken with their true intent. 

I brewed and I brewed. All the way over to the buyer's house. All the way back. As soon as I bid farewell to the buyer of our previous car, I headed upstairs to round up my tuxedo and shiny shoes. As I was pulling out the tux for a brush up my phone rang. It was my friend Trey. Instinctively I knew this was a word from the Lord being delivered by my best friend. I braced myself and prepared to change the prophet's heart. I answered the phone and quickly narrated my plans to a sympathizing and equally outraged friend. As a final ultimatum I asked what I should do. Trey answered that while he would be equally, if not more mad than I currently was, he counseled that I drop the matter and if anything go apologize in person. 

Wah, wah, wah. 

I knew that this was a learning moment however. This was not just wise counsel from an unbiased source, this was correction from God informing me to not take such liberties with His Book of Wisdom. 

I reluctantly took off the tux and prepared my heart for the humbling experience of driving to the BMV and apologizing to Bob in person. Upon walking into the BMV I scouted out where Bob might be sitting. There was only 1 other patron in the store and Bob seemed to be out for lunch. The nearest clerk asked if she could help me and seemed surprised to hear that I had come in looking for Bob. A concerned manager stepped over and asked what this was about. When I explained that I had come to apologize for my behavior earlier he asked me to wait a moment while he disappeared around a corner to retrieve Bob from the break room. 

Bob came out with a sheepish look on her face but a sweet expression nonetheless. I explained that I was the jerk who had sent his wife in with a dollar in pennies earlier that morning and that I was sorry to have done that just to spite her. She responded in the most wonderful manner a person could. She said an apology wasn't necessary at all and that she was at fault for having such a foul demeanor with Katie. She asked me to send an apology to my wife for the look she was sure had crossed her face earlier. Bob said that it had really bothered her for about 10 minutes but then she realized that it was the holiday season and she needed to show people extra grace. 
It was a beautiful exchange of humility from both parties. As I left the store everyone was bidding each other a Merry Christmas along with a host of "thank you"s and "have a nice day"s. 

The moral of the story: if you plot enough sour experiences, you too can find your father's tuxedo in your closet. 


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